OTD 1927 travelled to East End Park to play Dunfermline Athletic in a League Division 1 match.
This was Saints fourth Season in the higher division and Manager David Taylor had gradually put together a good squad with a mixture of promising young players coupled with more experienced men.
He selected the following team for the meeting with the Pars: – Sam Page, Willie Steele, John Jamieson, Willie Imrie ( making his debut ), Andrew Swallow, Jimmy Bolton, Peter Gavigan Andy Main, Jimmy Munro, John Stevenson, Harry Nicholson.
Heavy rain had made the pitch something of a duck pond but Saints had started well taking the game to the homesters. As often happens though, after doing all the pressing, Saints found themselves a goal behind in 11 minutes when in virtually their first attack the home team scored. 0 – 1.
Reports suggest that goalkeeper Sam Page did not look too clever for this one failing to properly punch clear a free kick into the penalty area. Undeterred, Saints resumed on the attack and after Dunfermline had withstood sustained pressure they broke away to double their lead. 0 – 2.
Things might have been worse still for Saints but the Pars missed an open goal. So when half time arrived the better team were 2 – 0 down.
However, Jimmy Munro pulled one back 10 minutes after the restart. Gavigan fired in a shot that the home keeper could only parry and the striker was on hand to slide the ball home.1 – 2 and game on.
Sam Page then showed his true abilities making some fine saves before Munro equalised with a beautiful header. This was the culmination of a lovely exchange of passes between Nicholson and Stevenson. Munro heading home the latter’s cross. 2 – 2 .
Both teams were now going all out for the winner and it was end to end stuff. Munro came so close to making it three but his shot hit the post and went out of play for a goal kick.
Just when it looked like the game would end in a draw, and with the home fans leaving, Munro popped up in the final seconds to complete his hat trick. Stevenson fired in a hard shot which the keeper saved but could not hold and in similar fashion to his first goal Munro was on hand to flick the ball into the net from a difficult angle. 3 – 2 and full time.
The result meant that Saints had taken 10 points from their first 9 games and was their best start to a First Division season.
At the end of the Season Saints were comfortable in 11th position in mid table with 36 points from their 38 matches. Dunfermline were, however, relegated.
It is interesting to highlight some of the Saints players in the team that day. All were David Taylor signings.
Jimmy Munro was in fact signed by the Manager on 3 separate occasions. The first time was in November 1925 when he paid Ardrossan Winton Rovers £10 for his signature. In February 1928 after scoring 55 goals in 79 games he was transferred to Raith Rovers. He was only there until the end of the Season and he re-signed for Saints in the summer of 1928. In February 1929 after 7 goals in 13 appearances he was transferred to Cardiff City. He returned to Saints in 1930 from Millwall as part of the Andrew Swallow transfer ( see below ). In December of 1930 after 5 goals in 6 games he again left Saints this time to play for Cork in Southern Ireland. Total 98 appearances and 67 goals.
Willie Imrie’s signature was secured from Dunnikier Juniors in Fife in 1927. A tough tackling wing half, alongwith Sandy McLaren, he was capped by Scotland in 1929 when he appeared against Norway in Bergen ( 7 – 3 ) and Germany in Berlin ( 1 – 1 ). Indeed he is the only Saints player to have scored for Scotland at full International level when he netted an 87th minute equaliser against Germany. He made 75 appearances for Saints scoring 18 goals before being transferred to Blackburn Rovers for a then record £3,750 fee. He later joined Newcastle United and Swansea Town.
Andrew Swallow was signed in November 1924 from Shettleston United Juniors and went on to make 191 appearances scoring 7 goals. He played for Saints at both the Recreation Grounds and at Muirton Park including the first ever game there against Queen’s Park on Christmas day 1924. He was a central defender and captained Saints. He received a Testimonial in 1929 when Blackburn Rovers came to Muirton Park ( Rovers won 5 – 2 ). In August 1930 he was transferred to Millwall for what was described as a substantial fee. Part of the transfer included Jimmy Munro coming back to Saints.
Willie Steele had been signed in 1926 from Bridgeton Waverley and between 13 August 1927 and 25 April 1931 he played a record 162 consecutive matches all at full back. Unfortunately, Saints were relegated at the end of that Season and Steele signed for Liverpool. He later joined Birmingham City.