A debut League Cup Tie for St. Mirren and Dunfermline

(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v Dunfermline Athletic, 13th July 2021)

St. Mirren v Dunfermline A. 1956

St. Mirren v Dunfermline A. 1956

St. Mirren welcomed Dunfermline Athletic to Love Street on 18th August 1956 for the first ever League Cup meeting between the sides. They had been drawn together in Section Three of that season’s competition along with Queen of the South and Kilmarnock and Saints hoped to go one better than their runners-up finish in the previous season’s final against Aberdeen.

The Buddies had opened their account with two drawn matches, 0-0 at Dumfries and 2-2 at home against Kilmarnock in the previous midweek. The Pars had edged ahead in the four-team table, having followed up their opening-day goalless draw at Kilmarnock with a 2-1 home win against the Doonhamers.

After an initial period of sparring between the sides, St. Mirren started to gain the advantage with Tommy Bryceland and Tommy Gemmell causing trouble for Mackin in the Dunfermline goal. A Jim Rodger corner found the head of Gemmell and Dunfermline’s Laird was forced to clear off the goal-line with his ‘keeper hopelessly beaten. The home side continued their aggressive attacks and made the long overdue breakthrough in the 39th minute when a Gemmell header from another Rodger corner gave Mackin no chance. Within eight minutes of the second half, Saints doubled their lead. A long punt up the middle by Neill Moore was chased by Bryceland, Flavell and Gemmell, with the latter getting there first to thump the ball into the net. Dunfermline’s persistence in using the wings for the remainder of the game suited the Saints’ defence, and Willie Telfer was given plenty of time to clear his lines whenever the ball came over. The 2-0 win took St. Mirren to the top of the section.

The eight-page programme was the first of the season, there having been no issue for the midweek match against Kilmarnock. Issue number 150 was of the same size and layout as that introduced three seasons earlier. The front cover carried the full match details below a photo of “Cairter’s Corner” and advertised the next home match against Queens on the following Saturday.

The Club Notes on page three discussed the results of the first two League Cup ties and reviewed Saints’ League double over the Fifers in the previous season. The notes continued on page six and mentioned new signings Hugh Cameron and Willie Dallas. A curiosity of these National Service times saw a report that Pilot Officer Jim Rodger was home on leave and his impact on the previous midweek match had been invaluable. Further news reported that, after a ten-year stint, Willie Telfer had handed over the Captaincy to Bobby Holmes. Finally, groundsman Malcolm McAulay and his staff were praised for their work in getting the pitch ready for the new season.

As usual, the centre pages displayed the team lines, surrounded by adverts. The only change from the Saints side which took the field was that Neil Moore played at left half instead of the indecisive programme listing “Holmes or Johnston”. The Pars made two changes from the printed line-up, fielding Chalmers for Samuel and Miller for McKinlay. Page seven provided the half-time scoreboard for the other fourteen matches being played that day and the back page listed adverts from local traders.

Saints managed another draw in the next sectional match against Queen of the South, followed by a resounding 4-1 win at Rugby Park which set them up nicely for the final tie at East End Park. Unfortunately, two goals in the final 10 minutes gave the Pars their revenge for the Paisley score line and allowed them to pip the Buddies to the only qualification spot by one point.