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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Post-war record goal scorer George Dewar was guest of honour at last weekend’s game v Raith Rovers. Stephen Mill looks back at his East Fife career in an article which appeared in the program that day.

 

Having attended Aberhill Primary School, next door to Bayview Park, it was his boyhood ambition to play in the Black and Gold. He had previously turned out for East Fife reserves at Tynecastle some two years earlier, following spells with Leslie Hearts, Methilhill Strollers and Wellsgreen Athletic but after facing a Hearts team which included Willie Bauld, Alfie Conn and John Cumming he was advised to “get a pair of spikes and speed up!”.

Five months after signing, the 23-year-old was handed his first team debut by Charlie McCaig at home to Stirling Albion. Dewar wore the number sever shirt in a game that ended in a 1-0 defeat and retained his place in the side for the remainder of the season, opening his scoring account two weeks later, finding the net twice in a 4-2 defeat of Forfar Athletic at Bayview. The youngster’s performance offered a ray of hope for the supporters who had witnessed a calamitous fall in the club’s standing in Scottish Football in recent years.

1961-62 started with a bang as the Fifers won all six of their League Cup sectional ties with Dewar hitting four goals in an 8-2 win at Brechin, following this up with a hat-trick at home to Arbroath four days later in a 6-0 success. A quarter final tie with Rangers was earned after Albion Rovers were seen off in the supplementary round. Although both legs against the Ibrox side ended in a 3-1 defeat, Dewar’s performances had caught the eye, scoring in each game. Despite being unable to reproduce this cup form in the league, the Methil men did manage a mid-table finish, an improvement in the previous two campaigns, Dewar finished top scorer with 31 goals having forged a productive partnership with Ian Stewart and goalkeeper-come-striker George Yardley.

Dewar continued to hit the target regularly the following season, finding the net on 24 occasions, including four goals in a 5-0 Scottish Cup win over Edinburgh University but the continued lack of league success saw Charlie McCaig replaced as manager by Jimmy Bonthrone in April 1963. Bonthrone made an immediately impact, with East Fife reaching the quarter finals of the League Cup, once again being paired with Rangers. It was a much closer affair this time around with Dewar’s second half equaliser earning a 1-1 first leg draw in front of a 14,000 Bayview crowd. A 2-0 defeat followed at Ibrox but, perhaps more importantly, performance in the league were showing marked signs of improvement, notably a 3-1 home win against eventual runaway Champions Morton. Dewar notched the second goal in a victory that brought the Greenock side’s record breaking 23 successive wins to an end. Fourth position was achieved at the end of a season with ever present Dewar finishing top scorer with 34 goals.

From a league prospective, 1964-65 was disappointing but the 9th place was compensated by another quarter final appearance in the League Cup with goals gfrom Andy Waddell and George Christie helping to secure a remarkable 2-0 first leg defeat of Celtic at Bayview. Unfortunately, a defensive collapse at Parkhead resulted in a 6-0 reverse and no place in the semi-finals for the men from Methil. In the Scottish Cup East Fife created another upset after holding Aberdeen to a goalless draw at Pittodrie. A 27th minute goal from Dewar was enough to see off the Dons in the replay. Kilmarnock, the side that would go on to lift the First Division Championship that season, were just too good for the Fifers in the next round, although it took another replay before the Ayrshire team progressed with a 3-0 win at Rugby Park.

The following two seasons saw the Fifers finish six points short of a promotion place. For the fifth successive season Dewar finished top goal scorer in 1965-66 but the next campaign found him on the side-lines through a knee injury, requiring an operation in December 1966 and causing him to miss out on another Scottish Cup shock, a 1-0 success away to Motherwell. Manger Bonthrone continued to bring in fresh blood in his efforts to return o top flight football, signing the experience Bertie Miller, Walter Bothwick, Peter McQuade, Dave Clarke and Dave Gorman. A third-place finish was achieved in 1967-68, four points behind runners up Arbroath, with top scorer Dewar also receiving the accolade of club’s Player of the Year. The goal of promotion eluded East Fife in the following campaign, again missing out by one place in Jimmy Bonthrone’s last season in charge. Bill Baxter taking over the reins after Bonthrone’s appointment as coach at Aberdeen in April 1969. For a club record seventh time Dewar ended the year as top scorer.

1969-70 was to be Dewar’s farewell season at Bayview Park as a player. He found the target for the last time in November 1969 at East Stirlingshire and played his part in a thrilling Scottish Cup run which saw Raith Rovers and Morton being knocked out before losing narrowly to Dundee in the quarter final. His final appearance in the black and gold was away to Brechin City in April 1970. After 337 appearances and a post-war record 193 goals for the club, Dewar elected to hang up his boots and was awarded a testimonial match against a Stoke City side that included Gordon Banks in November 1970 which attracted a 6,000 crowd

George Dewar gas a spell as a coach with East Fife, assisting Pat Quinn in bringing top division football to Methil after 13-year absence in 1971. A successful businessman, he continued to retain strong links with the area and in 2008 was voted into the pre-1970’s All-Time Greats team; a fitting and deserving tribute to a true Bayview legend.