Real Lives: Footballing hero Charlie Dickson

Charlie Dickson scored 240 goals for Dunfermline. Picture: contributed
Charlie Dickson scored 240 goals for Dunfermline. Picture: contributed
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Charlie Dickson, footballer and champion pigeon fancier, has died aged 79.

Born the son of Charles and Jean Dickson in Portobello on July 7, 1934, Charles junior was always known as Charlie, and even from a young age he was noted for his ability to score goals.

He trained as an apprentice electrician and after national service, he returned to his electrician’s trade and to junior football with Penicuik Athletic.

The 20-year-old’s talents were such that Dunfermline manager Bobby Ancell signed him almost immediately for the Fife club in January 1955.

In an era when players often spent long spells in the reserves before stepping up to the first XI, Dickson went straight into the top side, making his debut against Stenhousemuir and scoring twice in an away victory at Ochilview.

Dunfermline went on to win Division Two and stepped up to the top flight in Scottish football under new manager Andy Dickson. They were promptly relegated in season 1956-57, but Dickson was to play a massive part in the club’s return to the First Division after only a year, scoring 40 goals including four hat-tricks in the 1957-58 season. Dickson scored some 240 goals in about 500 appearances for the club, with 215 of those goals – 154 of them in the league – scored in 340 senior competitive matches.

The arrival of former Celtic captain Jock Stein as manager in 1960 began the glory era of Dunfermline. Dickson scored six in one match against St Mirren to equal the club record for goals in a game.

After Stein departed to manage Hibs, Dickson suspected his time at East End Park was up and he was transferred to Queen of the South in November 1964 before ending his playing career in Australian football with South Coast United. Although he was once named as a reserve for the Scottish League side, Dickson was never capped for his country, but in the mid-1960s Scotland did have players such as Denis Law, Ian St John, Alan Gilzean and Stevie Chalmers competing for the strikers’ positions.

He received the ultimate accolade of having a song written about him – Charlie Dickson, penned by another local legend, the Bard of Fife, John Watt.

In later life, he was a publican in Midlothian and hotelier in Dunbar before returning to his original trade as an electrician with Blue Circle.

He also doted on his racing pigeons. In a second sporting career, Dickson became one of Scotland’s top pigeon fanciers, and he and his son, also Charlie, held Scottish titles and bred and raced some of the fastest birds in the sport, including champions of long-distance races from France.

He died last Friday. He is survived by his wife, Frances, twin daughters Arlene and Karen, son Charlie and his other daughter, Yvonne, and their children.