Dunfermline Athletic

George Peebles

Monday, 17th Oct 2016

Dunfermline Athletic lost one of its greatest players this week when George Peebles passed away at a nursing home in Stirling, aged 80.

In August 1952 George was playing for Secondary Juvenile side Gowanhill in his home town of Stirling when he was provisionally signed by Falkirk, who arranged that he step up a level to play for Dunipace Juniors. He was all set for a trial in Falkirk`s reserve team but a knee injury prevented that. The Bairns` interest then seemed to cool and at the end of the 1954/55 season he was released from his contract without being called up.

However, a Dunfermline scout had kept an eye on George while he played for Dunipace though the 19 year-old wasn`t initially too keen as he felt he had been messed around by Falkirk. Swayed by the offer of a one-year deal, he put pen to paper on Tuesday, 23rd August 1955 to become new manager Andy Dickson`s first signing for the club. The fact that Rangers and Stirling Albion were also interested perhaps explains why he didn`t have to go through the formality of a trial. Dunfermline paid £100 for his signature from Dunipace and it was to prove some of the best money the club ever spent.

The following evening he made his first appearance in a black and white jersey, scoring twice in a 3-2 defeat of Hearts in the Second XI Cup at Tynecastle. His performance persuaded the manager to hand him his first-team debut just three days later on 27th August 1955, taking the place of the injured Colin McKinlay in a League Cup at Clyde.

From that point on, George became a regular wearing the number seven jersey. He was not the tallest but his clever wing play was a joy to watch and his dribbling skills always entertained the fans. George’s play began to get recognition nationally with Liverpool showing interest in his progress and in 1958 he was chosen as a reserve for the Scotland Under 23 team to play Wales.
When Jock Stein took over as manager, George was not only a player he retained but one around whom Stein’s new team would be focussed.

George was central to the 1960-1961 Scottish Cup run. He was one of only four players who appeared in all eight Cup ties that season, and he provided the cross for Davie Thomson to head home the opener in the Cup Final replay.

He had a run of 130 consecutive appearances that was only halted after he was injured at Shawfield on 29th September 1962. He also featured in Dunfermline’s European exploits playing in every match in 1961-1962 and the following season when Dunfermline recorded wins against Everton and Valencia. Ultimately, George made 185 appearances under Jock Stein – the highest by any player and as good a testimony to his ability as anything.

George’s superb wing play created opportunities galore for strikers like Charlie Dickson, but he was also a goalscorer in his own right, and a great one at that. His powerful shooting brought him 85 goals, putting him 7th on the Pars all-time goalscorers list. He scored a lot of very memorable goals but none more so than the hat-trick he put past Raith Rovers in a famous 6-0 win on 8th September 1962.

George played his final game for the Pars on 16th April 1966 having made 413 appearances – the fourth highest in the club’s history with only Norrie McCathie, Kenny Thomson and Willie Callaghan making more.

His hometown club Stirling Albion then stepped in to sign him for a fee of £4000, some fourteen years after he had been rejected after appearing as a youngster in the club’s pre-season trials. Albion were a First Division side at the time and George was a full-time player. He was still a force to be reckoned with and tormented many defences in his spell at Annfield. He played in just over 100 games, scoring 18 goals before retiring in 1971. By that time he had started to coach the Albion Reserve side, and he was quickly promoted to First Team Coach under Alex Smith. He was Number 2 to Smith for 12 years before taking over as Manager when Smith departed for St Mirren. Towards the end of 1987/88 season George decided to call it a day.

Although he retained a football connection, particularly working with former Pars teammate Alex Totten at St Johnstone, George devoted his time to his painting and decorating business George Peebles & Son, from which he retired eleven years ago.

In recent years George has suffered from ill-health through Parkinson’s disease and dementia, and for the last three years has lived in a nursing home in Stirling.

Although he left the club fifty years ago, Dunfermline Athletic never forgot his fantastic contribution and in March 2007 George was inducted into the DAFC Hall of Fame. For his part, George continued to make regular visits to East End Park until relatively recently. Son-in-law Fred said that George has always had Dunfermline in his blood and even in the hours before he passed away he was talking to Fred about Jock Stein and the great days he enjoyed at the club.

Perhaps if George had been prepared to sacrifice some of his family life he might have gone on to do great things at one of the many bigger clubs that were interested in him. But he wasn’t – George lived all of his life in Stirling and was married to his wife Mary all his adult life until she herself passed away two years ago. His son George junior also sadly died a few years ago but he is survived by his two daughters Yvonne and Karen and their husbands Fred and Charlie, and by five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

The thoughts and condolences of everyone at East End Park are with them this week.

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