Dunfermline Athletic

Paul Smith answers your questions!

Author: Jason Barber Date: Sunday, 15th Aug 2004

We`ve since spoken to "Smudger" and he was more than happy to recollect some of his highlights during his two playing spells with DAFC.

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In a career spanning 1988 to 1995, Smith played in 214 matches for Dunfermline and scored 30 goals. The hardman midfielder was known for his determined, battling qualities and never pulled out of a challenge.

You asked him about his midfield battles and his thoughts on Dunfermline back then and today, here he answers!

Nottingham Par asked "As Dunfermline fans, we have an idea that East End Park had a special atmosphere before the seating. As a player, would you say this was true in comparision to other grounds, and what were your favourites?"

Smith answered that East End Park was certainly up there with his favourite grounds. During his first spell with the club especially he said "Jim Leishman used to send me out with the strict instruction of clattering whoever the opposition had in front of the Dunfermline fans! He would fire us up just before we left the dressing room and always asked me to get the crowd going by making sure whoever their left back/right back on the terracing side was knew I was there!"

Larbert Par asked "What was your favourites memory with The Pars and who was the best player you played with at East End Park?"

Paul spoke fondly of his achievement of helping win the first division title in 1989 "The deciding match (drawn against Meadowbank) was incredible. Having gone one nil behind, our heads were down until John (Watson) pulled us level. That one game sticks out in my memory more than any other one to be honest."

As for player memories, he added "The group of players we had under Leish were something special. Ross Jack, John Watson, Norrie McCathie, so many great characters. It was the best time of my playing career without a doubt"

Dino 4 asked "What did Bert Paton do to change the atmosphere at the club (on and off the park) following Jocky Scott`s time in charge?

Paul defended Scott to a certain extent, though he did concede that "Yes, Jocky was very dour! I learned a lot from both Jocky and Gordon (Wallace) and they were really good guys to work for. I also knew Bert and Dick before they came to DAFC. However, Bert never really liked my style when he first arrived! He played me in a few games and seemed to change his mind however, giving me a decent run out in the team"

Divitparsfan asked "In a game against Airdrie, you crippled two of their guys in the first 10 minutes or so and were sent off, as you left the pitch can you remember what you were thinking?"

Paul remembers the match clearly and added "The only thing I was thinking about was a shouting match with Alex McDonald! He was giving me pelters from their bench and I was giving as good as I got! They were none too happy with me!"

Chewie asked about other Pars midfielders at the time, Paul replied:

"Obviously Istvan Kozma stands out, but he used to be more of an individual. Fans thought he was two or three moves ahead of the rest of us, but often he could have done something far more simple and ended up costing us possession! Stuart Rafferty and Davie Irons are two guys I liked playing with. Davie used to get terrible stick from some fans and we could not understand it. I remember when he came back to East End with Partick and he got a great reception, which we were all pleased about. He was a hugely underated player for Dunfermline"

Back on the subject of discipline, or lack thereof, Deepar asked "I`ve seen you clatter a few players in your time, at any point did you target anybody in the way Roy Keane describes in his book? Don`t expect you to name names!"

Well, Paul did name names! He recalls that "Peter Grant is really one that sticks in my mind. We had some good battles and neither of us wanted to concede anything to the other. Some tackles would still be remembered by the time the next match came along and we would always be looking to get each other back.

"I also remember being told by Leish to man mark Jim Bett. It was a great feeling to see Bett being substituted in a game when he hardly got a touch of the ball, it was a feeling that you`d really done your job properly when that happened"

Deepar also asked if Paul had any regrets from his playing career. Paul replied that "No, don`t think you ever can. I was lucky enough to play at the top level for a while, you can say you want to go on and play for your country etc. but everyone wants that of course. I don`t have any regrets from my playing career at all"

With regards to Paul`s reputation for hating goalkeepers, his reponse was that "Ross Jack taught me everything about getting stuck into goalkeepers! I remember catching Campbell Money once and I was given a hard time for that, but the ball was there for the taking I`m sure!"

Will Bryce also asked "During your time at the club a number of players (Davie Irons for example) seemed to get some undeserved stick from the crowd. How do players really react to that kind of thing?"

Paul recalls "As I said, we were pleased when Davie got a good welcome back when he played for Partick. We were all a really close knit group of players back then, closest I`ve ever known in my career. We used to go out on a Tuesday if there was no midweek game and we liked each other socially as well as team mates. Leish had us working together on and off the park the whole time. We were always told how important team spirit was"

HoosierDaddy asked "What was your most memorable goal for the Pars and which player did you least like playing against for 90 minutes?

According to Paul "I never scored too many goals, so cannot really remember any! However, one player I never liked playing against was Stuart McCall. He was just like a wee terrier and gave you no peace at all, he was a real pain to play against."

In reponse to Coodenpar, Paul says that he "always looks for Dunfermline`s result at full time. As I`ve said, they were the happiest times of my playing career and I like to see them doing well still"

Superally asked if Paul had any ambition to further his career with a club on a managerial or coaching basis (with all respect to Berwick. Paul has always told the Berwick chairman that he wants to coach/manage on a full time basis and that is still the case now. Regarding his playing for F*lkirk, Smudger admitted that "I was lucky when I went to F*lkirk in that they never gave me too hard a time, must have been the only player that has happened to!"

In response to Parklands Par, Paul admitted "I never really wore that many bandages or plasters, Doug Rougvie always used them up on himself!"

Pompey Par asked about Leishman as a manager and if Paul used any methods of his today. "Team spirit meant so much to him and us as players. That is the one main thing I try and instill into my players now. He was excellent at picking out players` strongpoints and maximising them from game to game. But if there is one thing he really taught me, it was the importance of team spirit"

Finally, westquarter violet (thanks for the tip off about Paul wanting to do this interview!) asked:

"After Davie Hay has been moved upstairs having led us to our 1st European cup victory, would you consider following in his managerial footsteps and take over the reigns at East End Park?"

Paul exclusively revealed that "I have already considered it in the past but someone else got the job! I would absolutely love to be back at East End Park at some point in the far off future, best days of my playing career by far!"

Our thanks go to Paul for taking the time out to answer these questions, we wish him and Berwick Rangers success in the new season!

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