Away From The Numbers



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Scot Symon. The player.
This "Folklore" feature is a little bit different. The attention is turned away from the playing side and onto that of management, and the greatest East Fife manager in the club's history. Scot Symon.

In his six seasons at Bayview, James Scotland Symon turned a minor provincial club into one of the top three clubs in Scotland. What is even more amazing is that he did this on a shoestring budget, and ended up producing some of the best East Fife players ever.

As a player, Scot Symon had been a half-back, turning out for Rangers, Portsmouth and Dundee, gaining one Scotland cap in the process in 1938. It was his management skills though that saw Scot Symon make a major impact on Scottish football.

East Fife had finished as runners-up in the Scottish League "B" Division in season 1946/47, but the lack of promotion and relegation that season prevented them from moving up to the top flight.

The Fife's brilliant Chairman, John McArthur, decided that an injection of new blood was needed on the management side, and approached Scot Symon.

Symon's 'job' interview itself has gone down in the Bayview history books, with a famous conversation having taken place along the lines of:

SS: "Do you want a team to get promotion or a team to sell?"

JM: "Promotion"

SS: "Right"

Scot Symon. The manager.
And promotion it was, for in Scot Symon's first season at Bayview, 1947/48, the Fife became "B" Division Champions, League Cup Winners, and Supplementary Cup Winners, as well as reaching the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup. Not bad for a first season in charge!

This was to be the beginnings of an amazing trophy haul for Symon, in over twenty years of football management.

Symon started season 1948/49 with the same side that had finished up so successful the season before. Not one single penny had been spent on transfer fees. That season saw Symon guiding the Fife to the quarter-finals of the League Cup, fourth place in the "A" Division, and to the top of Scottish football. The Club were now a real force in the game.

Scot Symon had four further successful seasons at Bayview. Season 49/50 saw him guide the club to their second League Cup Final success and to a place in the Scottish Cup Final. Season 50/51 was pretty uneventful, with a tenth place in Division "A" being all to show for it, but in season 51/52 and 52/53, Scot Symon guided East Fife to third place finishes in the Championship. If only there had been European competitions in those days!

East Fife's Chairman John McArthur had described Scot Symon as " the greatest 12th man any club ever had", which was quite an appropriate simile as Symon had represented Scotland at cricket!

Scot Symon was a great football tactition and a perfectionist. Even after East Fife had won the League Cup in 1947, he gave his players a rollicking in the dressing room after the game, before they got any champagne.

He was a manager who liked to keep ahead of his fellow managers and he even asked special permission of the then SFA secretary George Graham, to study official methods and forms, spending a week with him, just so that he made sure that he had all the procedures in Scottish football at his fingertips.

Scot Symon. Relaxing with a game of golf.
Scot Symon was certainly a very special manager.

It wasn't just his managerial side that saw him leave his legacy at Bayview though. He was an architect by profession and it was Symon that drew up plans for the reconstruction of the pavilion and the extensions which doubled the capacity at Bayview. With the way that the team were playing under his management, this was certainly needed, as crowds soared.

Scot Symon's six year reign at Bayview ended in May 1953, when he decided to test his skills south of the border with Preston North End. His legacy lived on at Bayview though, with the team that he built going on to record the club's third League Cup triumph in their first Symon-less season.

This was to be a last taste of success for East Fife though, for without Symon's brilliant guidance, the club suffered a decline in fortunes and lost their place as one of the top three clubs in Scottish football.

The same decline certainly didn't apply to Scot Symon's career though, for his success had only just begun.

Simon only stuck it out at Preston for one full season, but in that 53/54 season, he took them to the F.A. Cup Final. His talents were clear to see and it was no surprise when he found himself moving back north again, this time to manage Rangers, and what a success story he brought to Ibrox.

Many Rangers fans regard Scot Symon in the same way as East Fife fans - as their greatest ever manager. When you look at his managerial record at Ibrox, it's easy to see why.

Scot Symon. Managerial legend.
In his twelve and a half seasons at Ibrox, Scot Symon won six Scottish League Cup Championships, five Scottish Cups, and five League Cups, as well as being runners up in the European Cup Winners Cup Final in 1960/61. These successes included winning the treble in 1963/64.

Scot Symon's full managerial success story reads as follows:

1947/48 "B" Division Champions; League Cup Winners; Supplementary Cup Winners
1948/49 4th in First Division
1949/50 League Cup Winners; Scottish Cup finalists
1950/51 10th in First Division
1951/52 3rd in First Division
1952/53 3rd in First Division

1953/54 F.A Cup Finalist

1954/55 3rd in First Division
1955/56 Champions
1956/57 Champions
1957/58 Runners-up in First Division; League Cup finalists; Scottish Cup semi-finalists
1958/59 Champions
1959/60 3rd in First Division; Scottish Cup Winners
1960/61 Champions; League Cup Winners; E.C.W.C. Finalists
1961/62 Scottish Cup Winners; League Cup Winners
1962/63 Champions; Scottish Cup Winners
1963/64 Champions; Scottish Cup Winners; League Cup Winners
1964/65 League Cup Winners
1965/66 Scottish Cup Winners; League Cup Winners
1966/67 League Cup Finalists

Scot Symon. Managerial legend.
Scot Symon's managerial reign at Ibrox ended in November 1967. He later went on to manage Partick Thistle for a short spell then becoming general manager at Firhill but it was a hard act to follow what he had achieved with East Fife and Rangers. He also served as a member of Dumbarton's board inbetween.

Scot Symon was one of Scottish football's greatest ever managers and when he died aged 73 on April 30th 1985, the Scottish game lost a real legend. He achieved unprecedented success wherever he went, and it's unlikely that we will ever see his likes again at Bayview. Scot Symon more than deserves his place in Bayview folklore.

In 2008, Scot was voted as the manager of the pre 1970's side in AFTN's East Fife's All Time Greats poll. A fitting legacy.