Dunfermline Athletic

Norrie Tribute Night - Part Six

Sunday, 17th Jan 2016

"I can sit here seriously, all night and give you funny stories about McCathie as the boys have always done.

In the summer of 1993 the Dunfermline directors were faced with a real quandary following their dismissal of Jocky Scott. With the acrimony over the departure of Jim Leishman still reverberating, the Board needed a manager who would not only restore the supporters' faith in the club but was capable of achieving this on a vastly reduced budget.

The appointment of Bert Paton was a masterstroke; already a legend at East End Park thanks to a sublime playing career, his coaching experience and eye for talent made him the ideal choice for the task in hand.

Dick Campbell was Bert's Assistant Manager and Norrie McCathie was one of the players to benefit from the new management team. Dick took the stage at the Norrie Tribute night on Friday 15th January. He told the audience that Jocky Scott would not play him but Bert Paton loved Norrie the way he was.

"Every week somebody would come and ask if Norrie would go to a supporters do. Norrie would never ever turn them down. That was Norrie for you. But I can sit here seriously, all night and give you funny stories about McCathie as the boys have always done.

"He was unusual to say the least. Be there a great spirit in their dressing room under the Leish campaign and with the players that are all there, there might be personalities involved. You walk into a dressing room when McCathie was there, you had Davie Moyes, Billy Davies, Rab Shannon, Westwater, McNamara, Big Smudger (Paul Smith), Big Toddy. You name it there were characters in that dressing room but there was nobody there bigger than McCathiie.

"When you are the assistant manager you are in charge of all the training. You know when you blow the horn at ten o'clock we are down the road for work. Sometimes I would hear Norrie's car screeching up with two minutes to go. Bert would say words in his own Valleyfield way. You just handed the kit to Norrie and he would change on the way down.

"I had five and a half years with him. He may well have been last into training but I would tell you one thing; he was never ever last up for the training. He had a natural enthusiasm for the game of football that lifted him to the legendary status that he is. I am telling you, he was magnificent. He would always moan at you in training to get the ball out.

"I was familiar with him because I had a pub, Bert had a pub and of course Norrie and John (Watson) had a pub and we knew the problems that you had with them. Getting the toilets all cleaned, getting the change into the tills. I was aware of that but he never ever let us down with his attitude to the game.

"In training you try to make up sixteen to make it work for you. - two eights or four fours. One day we were short and Bert said 'we are only 15 Dick what do you think?' I said wee John Fraser is doing well - wee Valleyfield boy. So Bert said bring him in to make up the sixteen.

"He is from Valleyfield remember because that says it all. Norrie McCathie nutmegs John Fraser and wee Fraser is not happy when everybody starts up. He is sixteen years of age but he goes up to Norrie who is an institution at Dunfermline and says 'do that again and I will ---- stab you!"

Norrie did look after the young players inviting them to his pub to feed them meals. He was well liked by everyone at the club.

Dick explained that a team needed a cause to win the league championship and went on to explain the match at Tannadice in April 1996 when Stewart Petrie scored the winner to spoil Dundee United's promotion party.

"Jim McLean was the Chairman and Billy Kirkwood was the manager. In the Sun newspaper that morning it said that it was Dundee United's trophy. All the managers in the league felt Dundee United would win the championship. The one person that said Dunfermline would beat them was Jimmy Bone, the manager of Airdrie.

"When we went up to that game there was a feeling and a cause to win the championship. If you look back on it Jim McLean changed the whole situation at Dundee United. All the away supporters used to be behind the far goal but he thought that in case of intimidating circumstances in the penalty box, we will put the Dunfermline supporters in the stand. Honestly that is the worst thing Jim McLean could do with the Dunfermline fans that day.

"We won it and I can always remember going down the road that night from Dundee to Dunfermline, we sung in the bus that night and the songs we sung were all about Norrie McCathie. I honestly believe Norrie was there and kicked every ball for us that day. Ian Westwater had the best performance that I have ever seen from a goalkeeper in my life. He will tell you that was because of Norrie."

Every person who was interviewed on stage was asked for one word to sum up Norrie McCathie. Dick Campbell felt that he was talking for everyone inside the Carnegie Hall and chose five- We miss you Big Man.

The one word answered were as follows:-
Rab McCathie - smiling
Jim Leishman - wonderful
John Jobson - unforgettable
Gregor Abel - awesome
Jim Bowie - magnificent
Ian Westwater - tough
Pip Yeates - irreplaceable
Ian McCall - DAFC
John Robertson - Legend
Stewart Petrie - inspirational

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