by Ronnie Kerr

HE REMAINS to this day, the only captain of Dunfermline Athletic who can truthfully say: "I think we would have beaten Barcelona in the final."

Pars legend Roy Barry, skipper of the side that narrowly lost a European Cup Winners Cup semi-final, knows only too well the despair that comes with just missing out on glory.

The Scottish Cup-winning captain, who considers defeat to Slovan Bratislava in April 1969 his greatest disappointment, hopes the current side will not be looking back in anguish when the season ends.

Last Friday marked 52 years since that Dunfermline lost that semi against crack European opposition – six of the Slovan team played in the 1970 Mexico World Cup and briefly led Pele’s Brazil.

It conjures fond memories of a team from the coalfields of West Fife who went toe to toe – and beat – some of the very best.

A year earlier - the 53rd anniversary of which was yesterday (Tuesday), Barry led the Pars to Scottish Cup glory for the second - and, so far, last - time in their history against Heart of Midlothian.

That saw them qualify for the following season's European Cup Winners Cup, in which they embarked on a run to the last four.

For Barry, the agony was compounded by his belief that the Pars would have won the final in Basel – for the current team, the frustration would have been that if they missed out on this season's play-off places for a shot at the Premiership, they had been in the top four for most of the season.

That, however, has been put to bed after Saturday's win over Arbroath sealed at least fourth place with a game to spare.

Speaking prior to that match, Barry said: "It’s the same whether you’re playing in a European tie or the Scottish Championship – no player wants to miss out on a place in a final.

“The performance against Queen of the South on Saturday was much better than in recent games. The players seemed more comfortable on the ball and that gives everyone hope.

“It looked to me as if the penny had dropped and the players had realised, ‘if we don’t step up here then we’ll miss out’.

“The players must be positive. Apart from lapses in two recent games, the defence has looked solid so if the team can be as effective in attack, then they have a chance.”

A return to the top flight for the first time since 2012 would be a thrilling prospect for a player who is revered by fans of a certain vintage.

“No club has a divine right to be in the top division so the players have to go out there and earn it. No-one will be cheering them on more than me – I wish the team all the best for the run-in.”