Nostalgia: Raith Rovers seven-goal blitz that began the glory years

Raith’s David Sinclair is tackled by Robert Dawson.Raith’s David Sinclair is tackled by Robert Dawson.
Raith’s David Sinclair is tackled by Robert Dawson.
It was the performance that kick-started everything ...

The 7-0 destruction of highly-fancied St Mirren on the opening day of the 1992-93 season was the dawn of Raith Rovers’ glory era.

The years that followed produced two league titles, the Coca-Cola Cup and a European adventure that would see some of the same players from that day take on the mighty Bayern Munich.

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Here is the Fife Free Press report from that memorable afternoon at Stark’s Park on August 1, 1992:

Raith Rovers 7, St Mirren 0

Raith fans entered seventh heaven on Saturday.

They poured out of Stark’s Park sporting grins as long as Pratt Street – and probably pinched themselves all the way to their cars at Beveridge Park to make sure it wasn’t a dream.

Rovers were determined to erase the memory of their false start 12 months ago, but nobody could have anticipated such a breath-taking afternoon.

They ran riot against a team tipped to lead the promotion race, and could easily have strolled into double figures.

Little wonder the players looked pleased.

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There were some magnificent individual performances in a team display which must rank as one of the finest from any Raith side in recent years.

The highlights of a flawless display included Gordon Dalziel’s glorious hat-trick, Craig Brewster’s free-kick, Peter Hetherston’s delightful skills in the centre of the park, and an impeccable strike from debut boy Jason Dair.

Rovers could have scored at will against a side which defended with unbelievable naivete and surrendered midfield within 15 minutes of kick-off.

The Fifers made full use of their clear superiority to string together countless attacks their running off the ball was exemplary, and their passing game a genuine delight to watch.

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But while they basked in the glory of a dream, Saints boss Jimmy Bone was left to come to terms with a nightmare.

He must have arrived in the Kingdom with hopes of taking at least a point after Icelandic striker Gunni Torfason settled his differences with the club, and Scotland under-21 skipper Paul Lambert unexpectedly rejected a move to Dundee United.

Instead he was left to ponder on “the worst performance I’ve ever seen from any Saints side”.

The media swarmed round the manager, eager to catch his words of condemnation, and he went straight to the heart of the matter.

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His players showed no spark or commitment – only teenage substitute Paul McIntyre escaped his wrath and the defence was castigated for a “cardboard cut-out” display.

As he spoke, the club’s pros were as solemn as pall bearers as they carried the kit boxes to the team bus.

Outside, disbelief slowly turned to anger, and one fan made a determined bid to gatecrash the office to air his views.

By full-time, a substantial chunk of the visiting support had drifted away, but those who remained sportingly applauded the goals which obliterated their team. If nothing else, they could admire the quality of the strikes.

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The one-way traffic started after an evenly contested opening 10 minutes during which time the Saints actually knocked the ball about in style.

Skipper Charnley acted as the link man in the centre of the park, although his effectiveness diminished after a clattering challenge from Nicholl – a tackle fellow pros euphemistically refer to as “making your presence felt”.

In the fourth minute, Elliot cut inside Sinclair but was closed down by McLeod’s excellent covering tackle, and Torfason sent a free-kick wide of the target.

At that point. it all went horribly wrong for the Buddies. Hetherston came close with a good long-range effort, and then in the 15th minute Dair moved away from the wing and played an inch-perfect ball through the defence for Dalziel to slot past Money.

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Two minutes later Robert Dawson got into a dreadful mess deep inside his own half, and lost possession to Dair.

The teenage winger spotted Money well off his line, and beat him with an immaculate 26-yard chip.

If anything, the second goal sparked off even more traffic towards Saints’ highly vulnerable goal, and it was no surprise when Raith struck again in the 35th minute.

Ronnie Coyle collected the ball from Brewster and used Dalziel to destroy the defence with the most elementary one-two before firing home from the right.

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Dalziel could have hit a hat-trick before the half-time whistle. He saw one fine effort blocked by Money, and then failed to beat the keeper on a solo run, and Dair saw one flick shot scrambled away from the back post.

The Saints suffered another setback when Charnley limped off just seconds after the restart, but by then they were a beaten team.

They failed to put pressure on the home defence, and paid a high price as Rovers stormed through the second half.

Goal number four arrived in the 64th when a free kick from the hardworking Brewster picked out the unmarked figure of Dalziel, and he headed home from close range.

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The hosts endured one moment of panic when Arthur fumbled a high cross, but McLeod mopped up near the goal-line, and the action quickly switched to the other end of the park.

Dalziel tried a hugely ambitious long-range chip, and Sinclair let fly with a thundering low drive as Raith hit the Buddies from every conceivable angle and range.

Brewster made it 5-0 in the 70th minute with a stunning direct free-kick. His curling 25-yard drive round the defensive wall and into the top corner of the net was measured to perfection, and Dalziel completed his hat-trick with a glorious shot from the corner of the box just five minutes later.

To complete a quite remarkable afternoon, Dalziel strolled down the right wing, and crossed for Brewster to knock home number seven.

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The only blots on Raith’s copy book were the bookings of Nicholl for persistent fouling, and Coyle for a tackle which didn’t compare with some of the challenges Brewster had to endure.

Raith Rovers: Arthur, McStay, McLeod, Coyle, Dennis, Sinclair, Nicholl (MacKenzie S77), Dalziel, Hetherston (Thomson S70), Brewster, Dair.

St. Mirren: Money, Dawson, Reid, Manley, Baillie, Charnley (McIntyre S46). Elliot, Lambert, Torfason, McGill (Lavety S49), Broddle.

Referee: M Pocock (Aberdeen).

Attendance: 2254.

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