I DON’T think I am the only Celtic supporter who feels depressed that the Pars are in the doldrums these days. A good provincial club with a fine ground, and decent supporters, and of course we share a common interest in Jock Stein.
They had their heyday in the 1960s, having risen from not very much to European respectability when Jock Stein arrived. There was that awful Scottish Cup final in April 1961 – the irony of that one being that the two architects of that Dunfermline victory were both Celtic daft. I refer to Jock Stein, and goalkeeper Eddie Connachan mainly, although one or two others in the Pars side were on record as saying that they wished it had been Rangers they beat.
The Pars then lost to us in 1965, of course, but won the Scottish Cup again in 1968, putting Celtic out in late January and beating Hearts in the final. But then from 1970 onwards their affairs took a downward turn from which they have not totally recovered even though they have reached two Scottish Cup finals and one Scottish League Cup final (losing all three to Celtic) in the 21st century.
But to the Scottish League Cup. I can find only nine occasions on which Dunfermline and Celtic’s paths have crossed in this competition.- four times as East End Park, three times at Celtic Park and once each at Ibrox and Hampden. The Pars have beaten us only the once and that was on 15 September 1956 in a 3-0 doing in the second leg of a quarter final.
Not that it mattered all that much however for Celtic had won the first leg 6-0 at Parkhead with Neil Mochan, Billy McPhail and Bobby Collins among the goals. Then in 1966/7 the two came together again – this time Celtic won 6-3 and 3-1, the two teams living up to their reputation of playing attacking football.
Next came the sectional stage at the start of the 1982/83 season – 6-0 and 7-1.
So far, every time that Celtic had met Dunfermline in the League Cup, they had gone on to win the competition. The only exception to this rule came in August 1984 when Celtic beat the Pars 3-2 at East End Park in a tight game in which Dunfermline had scored first, but then we lost the next game to Dundee United.
Arguably the best game of the nine was the semi-final of 1997/98 at a rainy Ibrox when Craig Burley scored the only goal of the game following a brilliant lay-off from Henrik Larsson who actually passed the ball back to him! It was Dundee United in the next round as well – the Final – and this time no mistake, a 3-0 win and how we needed that trophy!
3-0 was also the score in the final in March 2006, and this time Dunfermline were the opponents. It was only a few days after the death of Jimmy Johnstone (sportingly applauded by the Dunfermline fans) and Celtic remained well on top with goals from Maciej Zarawski, Shaun Maloney and Dion Dublin (who thus won his only ever medal in a long and distinguished career.)
The Pars have never won the Scottish League Cup, although they have appeared in two finals. One was the one mentioned in 2006 and the other was in 1949/50 when the Pars lost out to their fellow Fifers, East Fife. Celtic on the other hand have won the Scottish League Cup 18 times.
Sadly, this Scottish League Cup is Celtic’s unfavourite domestic competition, for their record of 18 trophies lags far behind the 27 of Rangers (1872-2012). Time to do something about that, Celtic!
Also on The Celtic Star…Neil Lennon on Ryan Christie and Christie on his Champions League Dream…see HERE.