Dunfermline Athletic

August 13, 2014

The series wasn’t dead, it was just resting. Briefly rousing it from a long slumber is Michael Wood (from The Michael Wood blogspot) who brings us the worst XI players from his time watching Dunfermline.

Goalkeeper – Chris Smith

The defence in our most recent spell in the Premier League was perhaps the worst the SPL had ever seen but under Paul Gallagher you felt some sort of solidity even if Alex Keddie was in your back line. How Smith got the starter’s job was due to the fact Gallagher got sidelined with a back injury for the remainder of the 2011-12 season and then Iain Turner got injured in training which ruled him out for six months after a good start to his loan spell from Preston. That’s when it became time for shambolic Smith and then it was mistake after mistake in vital situations. He couldn’t catch the ball, he couldn’t kick the ball, was dreadful in one on ones and the couldn’t organise the back line. The only positive attribute to his game was his reflex saves. It’s accepted that mistakes happen but when it’s week in and week out, it’s obvious your not cut out for the top division or the one below.

Centre back – Youssef Rossi

He cost Dunfermline £200,000 which was the start of the club’s financial downfall. It took him four months to make his debut only to get sent off 25 minutes in. He was dismissed twice in his first three games, while not helping matters by making obscene gestures against Dundee United when coming off the field for a second bookable offence. Then he went AWOL and moved back to Morocco which caused FIFA to intervene and gave him a worldwide ban. 

That’s a lot to fit in to a career never mind a debut season!

His signing was probably the start of Dunfermline’s slow decline into financial troubles but on his day he was one of the best centre backs in the league but you never seen it enough. He was at NEC Nijmegen the same time as Calderwood was managing them. Not that you knew Jimmy had ever managed in Netherlands before. His ability was there to see as he played at 1998 World Cup for Morocco. It seemed he just chased the money though as he ended his career with a three year stint in Qatar after a year at home town club Raja Casablanca.

Centre back – Yannick Zambernardi

Zambernardi, just the name brings laughter to many a Dunfermline fan. If only The Pars fans thought of the the Human League terrace chant that is now synonymous with Aberdeen’s Peter Pawlett because his name would’ve fitted perfectly and would have saved him from some of the abuse shouted from the stands. In all honesty, I don’t think Zambernardi was that interested in football, I’m sure Hibernian fans would agree. Hibs was the club that Zambernadi spent the most time at; making 35 appearances in his two years. He only play 87 professional games in his career that spanned 10 years at eight clubs across France, Belgium and Scotland. That showed on the park with his lack of urgency to mark, track runs from deep or even jump. Anything you want from a centre half you got the opposite with Zambernardi and he was soon on his way to Ligue 2 side FC Istres before being released after five games and is now effectively retired.

Centre back – Alex Keddie

Should have had studs sewn on his shorts because he was always on his backside. No matter the pitch conditions you’d see him slip at least once a game, more often than not in situations in which the opposition was bearing down on goal. Keddie is at Arbroath now and got relegated from League One in a team that conceded 75 goals. In his top flight season with Dunfermline he was a big part of the team (36 starts) that conceded 82. I really felt for Andy Dowie. He was a good centre half who had to play next to Keddie and in front of Chris Smith. Many of the players said that Keddie was one of the best in training but just lost his bottle out on the field because he made the most peculiar mistakes. It could be argued he just wasn’t cut out for the SPL but that is easily quashed because even in Division One he looked out of his depth and probably past his best, whatever that was, at 31. Now unemployed at 33, at least he has his degree in Charted Surveying to fall back on after football.

Centre midfield – Stephen Simmons

Loved a sideways or backwards pass but struggled to accurately find a team-mate if he was more than five yards away even with little to no pressure upon him. Him and Stephen Glass promised a lot in the middle of the park but never delivered. Simmons would’ve been a great footballer if he could have done any of the following: pass, shot, tackle or hold on to the ball. It would’ve helped if he could run or even jog as well but even my out of shape body probably could have out paced him. Gus McPherson took him on at Queen of the South and somehow made him worse from what I heard. Was one of Paul Hartley’s trusted lieutenants at Alloa Athletic in the Championship, though he is part-time.

Centre midfield – Simon Wiles

I have played better games hungover from the night before against “professional footballer” Greig Spence than Simon Wiles ever did for The Pars. One of the many blink and you’ve missed them signings made by McIntyre. Just hopeless: seen the game go past him all the time and was always caught in possession. When he left he struggled to get a game for Barrow in the Conference because in part he had worse knees than Scott M Thompson and is now at Salford City who play in the eighth tier of English football and he’s still the right side of thirty.

Centre midfield – Paul Burns

McIntyre’s love child? Perhaps McIntyre just needed a travel buddy for his daily commute from Dumfries? All allegedly of course but those are the only conclusions I could conjure up as to why McIntyre continued to play Burns.

He must have been the shortest 5 foot 9 inch footballer I’ve ever seen or we were just that strapped for cash due to our imminent entry into administration that he wore Sol Bamba’s hand me down kit when he left for Hibs. They were always ill fitting and he did look like a wee wean running about the park lost looking for his mum most of the time. Feeling as low as I could as a Dunfermline supporter when they entered administration, his performances on the field still drew ire from me and many in the stands.

Went back to Queen of the South where he’s played 302 games over the course of 11 years and is now playing again for his alleged father.

Left Midield – Frédéric Daquin

Daquin came in of the back of a massive season at Saint-Raphaël in the third division of French Football scoring 17 goals in 42 games and was a let down in the 18 months he had at Dunfermline. He had two spells at Hibernian making six appearances and they should have known by now from the amount of poor players that we shared in the past that he wasn’t going to work out. He looked decent but what seemed like a graceful footballer was little more than a foreigner with pace but couldn’t cross or shoot, he tried but never looked like having the ability to play at the level of the SPL.

Maybe he was more suited to the Division One game with Dundee who he went to after but then again I heard not.

Right midfield – Kevin Harper

Harper was good when he was up for it. The problem was that Harper was up for it at best three minutes every fortnight and his attention span was shorter since you’d find him in about every position bar goalkeeper just gravitating towards the ball. He’d run but only when he had the ball at his feet and wanted to go on a wander with it. He was like a poor Joe Cardle. There was also off the field problems with him as well which certainly didn’t help his cause to The Pars faithful. All four of his goals in his debut season were against a Stirling Albion team that got relegated with only four wins. Retired after his spell with the club and after working with Stephen Kenny and Jim Mcintyre, I don’t actually blame him if he fell out of love with football.

Centre forward – Gjorgji Hristov

After a few months of living in Barnsley in 1998, their record signing Hristov said: “England is a strange country and I found it hard to adapt to living here.”

That in addition to his comment about the girls being ugly and drinking too much was never going to endear him to the Tyke fans and the infamous interview to a Belgrade newspaper was his lasting legacy in Great Britain.

Six years later he turned up in Dunfermline and obviously thought pretty much the same of our country as our southern neighbours.

Whilst he may have been there in body, that body was a carcass with no spirit and was restricted to just four starts for the club. His ability must also been left in 98. You’d never thought of him being a former Premier League striker or even Macedonia’s second all time goalscorer with 16 goals but when he played on Halbeath Road you could tell he wasn’t bothered just from the way he meandered around the pitch looking uninterested. 

Went to Hungarian Champions Debreceni after and played two games, scoring no goals.

Centre forward – Andy Campbell

That experience is crushing my soul so I’ll make this short: I don’t think Campbell had a shot in his five appearances for the club. To sum him up in a word, it rhymes with bite. Went to English side Halifax Town who played in the Conference.

Manager – David Hay

David Hay’s managerial reign inspired chants of ‘Oh my God I can’t believe it David Hay is still in a job’ and ‘Oh my God I can’t believe it, why is Hay still in a job?’ That pretty much sums up how poor as a team they were and as a manager he was since those chants were coming from his own fans. 
Tactically he was just lost and no idea what to do when they needed a goal. The majority of the team were still on the books from the 2004 Scottish Cup Final defeat and finished fourth, not that you would have realised the way Hay set them out to play. It’s worth noting Hay won the League Cup with Livingston the season before he joined the club.

The only reason Athletic stayed up was because he was sacked two days before they played Dundee who were situated three points ahead in 11th. The Pars won 5-0. That was only part of “The Great Escape”. The Dees couldn’t pick up a win against either seventh placed Inverness at home or against 10th spot Livingston away. Whilst Dundee United most probably out of spite lost to Dunfermline at Tannadice a day after the Jags stalemate.

It’s a wonder how the same combination of Jim Leishman and Hay worked so well at Livi and had them finishing as high as third in the 2001-02 season but was a complete failure at East End Park.
Five of the 11 players that appear on the list were signed under one of those men.

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