A World of Football at East End Park
Against Hearts on the 2nd of February this year, Dunfermline fielded a Senegal internationalist for the first time.
Also featuring that day were a Moroccan, a Lithuanian and an Australian. Had Marco been in goals, a Dutchmen would have obviously added to the list.
Over the last couple of years, Jimmy Calderwood has heralded a foreign revolution within the walls of East End Park. Not too long ago, it was big news for a foreign player to come to the club. Now it appears perfectly normal for the club to be looking outwith the Scottish lower leagues to pick up new talent.
For decades, few foreign imports donned the black and white. Bent Martin and Gier Karlson were goalkeepers from foreign shores in the 60s and 70s, but few others came to the club.
After the `wilderness` years of the 1970s and early 1980s, Jim Leishman started to look at bringing in talent from pastures new.
Vetle Anderson was a Norwegian under 21 international who came to the club in 1987. He played a few games as defensive cover, most memorably in the 2-0 Scottish Cup victory over Rangers in 1988.
Bordeaux provided the next bit of foreign flare. George O`Doul and the amazing Stan Kozma both came from the French giants. Kozma played 13 games for his native Hungary whilst at East End. Few who saw him play would argue against him being one of the most talented players ever to grace Scottish football.
As Leishman left, Milos Drizic arrived. The Yugoslav internationalist played few games for Dunfermline, though he certainly had a foreign style of play! Anyone who saw him attempt to dribble the ball from box to box will remember his few appearances well. 6 first team appearances over 2 seasons were all he had to show for his time in Scotland under Ian Munro`s management.
Big Ivo in action in 1996
Jocky Scott did not bring a single foreigner into the club during his time in charge (which should make his spell at the wee team interesting!) so Bert Paton was the next man to look abroad.
Ivo den Biemen was one of his first signings, and perhaps, one of his best. Already experienced in Scottish football by the time he came to East End, Ivo was one of the best utility players ever seen in Dunfermline`s history. He played in every position bar goalkeeper and was a consistent performer for Paton`s Pars. Big Ivo running down the wing and his monster throw ins were just two features of this likeable player`s style.
Guido Van De Kamp was a fellow Dutchman brought in by Paton. A cup winner with Dundee United, he became a regular during season 1994/95. Paul Fenwick (of Canadian background) also appeared the same season.
Kai Rissanen appeared, albeit very briefly, during the championship season of 1995/96. His Pars career was rather short lived!
Colin Miller was an established Canadian international when he came to East End. He is now the current record holder for caps won whilst with the club, though that record may not survive for too much longer.
Zoran Lemajic was the next in line for the imported goalkeeper berth. A former international, he was brought to Dunfermline late in his career and played over 2 seasons, battling with Ian Westwater for the number one jersey.
Great excitement swept the club in 1997/98 season. A Brazilian was coming to Dunfermline! Sergio Duarte came and played 10 games from the start for the club. He did look at times like the only Brazilian who could not actually play football! A tad harsh, but he did not fit into the Scottish route one style favoured by the club at the time.
Another was to follow however! Edinho joined the club on loan from Bradford City. Playing 10 games (5 as a sub) his jinking wing play was not suited to the team plan at the time. His brief appearance did create excitement amongst the fans, but the management did not agree and he was back to Bradford before ling. Irish international Owen Coyle also joined towards the end of that ill fated season.
As Dick Campbell handed over the reigns to Jimmy Calderwood, the foreign invasion really started! During the promotion season of 1999/2000, Kris Mampaey (Belgium) and Michel Doesburg (Holland) were brought in to boost the squad.
As the team narrowly missed out on a top 6 place last season, more were coming into Calderwood`s revolution. Andrius Skerla (Lithuania), Marco Ruitenbeek (Holland) and Youssef Rossi (Morocco) were big name signings pre season. Rob Matthei, Marinus Dijkhuizen and Tomas Danilevicius (also Lithuanian) also appeared in the same season.
Since then, we have seen the addition of Jack De Gier (Holland), Mikael Panopoulos (Australian from Greek parentage) and now Sengi N`Diaye (from Senegal). Dunfermline have, belatedly, become part of the foreign revolution that has swept British football over the last generation.
Which country will be next on the East End Park atlas of the world? Watch this space!