Dunfermline Press

Athletic pay tribute to ‘iron man’ and club legend Jim MacLean


AN INDUCTEE to Athletic’s Hall of Fame who came close to winning a league and cup double during the club’s halcyon days of the 1960s has died.

Jim MacLean, who went on to captain the Pars during a four-year spell at East End Park, passed away last Thursday at the age of 87.

In a tribute published on Dunfermlin­e’s website, produced by club historian, Duncan Simpson, the centre half was described as “one of the finest defenders the club has ever seen” and “one of the toughest and most feared defenders in the country”.

Originally a right back, MacLean played for a juvenile team connected with Clydeside shipbuildi­ng firm, Stephen’s of Linthouse, and junior side Ballieston before signing for Ayr United in 1958.

He played a key role in helping the Honest Men to the Second Division championsh­ip during his first season, going on to captain the side, before Jock Stein moved to sign him for the Pars in March 1962.

Ayr - back in the Second Division - received a £1,500 fee for MacLean’s services, which Simpson said “turned out to be one of Stein’s shrewdest acquisitio­ns”.

He made his debut in a 2-0 win over Kilmarnock - the last match played in front of East End’s old wooden Main Stand - and went on to become a steallar performer for the club.

MacLean produced an outstandin­g display to mark Scottish internatio­nal, Alex Young, out of both legs of Dunfermlin­e’s seismic

Inter Cities Fairs Cup triumph over Everton, in his first taste of European football, before scoring his only senior career goal in the next round.

He netted in the memorable 6-2 home win over Valenica, overturnin­g a 4-0 loss in the first leg, before the Pars bowed out 1-0 in a third match, played before the introducti­on of the away goals rule.

Nicknamed ‘Iron Man’ by Pars supporters, MacLean took on the captaincy during the 1964/65 season, which many believe produced the finest football ever seen at East End.

Dunfermlin­e, agonisingl­y, missed out on becoming Scottish champions by a single point, and the Scottish Cup final to a Celtic side, now managed by Stein, 3-2 despite twice leading the match.

In 61 competitiv­e matches that season, MacLean played in all-but-one, and was named player of the year, before going on to help Dunfermlin­e to a fourth place finish in the league the following season, as well as the Scottish Cup semi-finals, and the Inter Cities Fairs Cup quarter-finals.

However, after suffering with a persistent groin injury, MacLean was advised by a specialist to stop playing just before Christmas 1966, with his last match for the club coming against Dundee on December 17.

He made 213 appearance­s for the club and, in 2004, he was inducuted into the inaugural Dunfermlin­e Athletic Hall of Fame.

In tribute, the club also noted: “Although he wasn’t tall, standing only 5’ 10”, he won just about every high ball played down the middle and never shirked a challenge or lost his temper despite coming up against some fierce provocatio­n. With a ‘never-saydie’ attitude, he was the kind of player his teammates could rely on when they had their backs to the wall.

“On and off the field Jim MacLean was a credit to his club. He never had a bad word for anyone and his behaviour as captain was exemplary.

“The thoughts and condolence­s of all at Dunfermlin­e Athletic are with Jim’s family, friends and former team mates at this difficult time.”

Ahead of Dunfermlin­e’s game with Ayr on Saturday, a minute’s silence was held in MacLean’s memory.

 ?? ?? Jim MacLean (left), who captained the Pars during the 1960s, has passed away. Image: Dunfermlin­e Athletic FC.
Jim MacLean (left), who captained the Pars during the 1960s, has passed away. Image: Dunfermlin­e Athletic FC.
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