Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I'm going to run a feature I've been writing for the East Fife programme on the blog. It's also going to appear on the AFTN website, but I thought I'd stick it on the blog first for those that haven't already seen it. This is Part One:

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The ice caps, the rain forests, endangered species. All part of our disappearing world.

As football fans though we’re part of our very own disappearing world. For older fans especially, many of the things we have grown up to associate with a day out at the football either no longer exist anywhere or are close to extinction. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for worse.

As East Fife supporters, spending so many recent seasons in the lower levels of Scottish Football has meant that we’ve seen some of these things disappear at a much slower rate than say fans of teams in the SPL.

In these days of shiny new, all look the same, plastic lego built stadiums by numbers, we’ve been “lucky” to have had visits to Albion Rovers’ Cliftonhill and East Stirling’s old Firs Park. Truly football grounds from a bygone age. Grounds where you can stand on terracing, lean on a crash barrier, go to an actual pie hut and not a concessions stall and, in the case of old Firs Park, use mens toilet facilities that wouldn’t look out of place in a third world country in the 1920‘s.

For the older ones, it’s a blast from the past, for the younger ones we take with us, it’s a chance to show them what their parents and grandparents grew up with as the norm. Things they wouldn’t believe if they didn’t see it with their own eyes and certainly not things you would see in the stadia shown on the Match of the Day or Sportscene, apart from perhaps on FA Cup minnows day. Is that perhaps part of the reason why people find their participation in the competition so romantic?

These were real football grounds and the things that comprised them were what helped all of us older ones want to go back to watching our team week in, week out. So as you sit in your characterless plastic seat, reading your glossy programme, let us take you back to look at a couple of these things that are now part of this disappearing world:

#1 : HALF TIME SCOREBOARDS

A 1-1 B 1-0 C 0, what’s that? A 2?! The crowd gasps. That’s a shocker. Who’s D again?

Long before even the most basic of electronic scoreboards were invented, people relied on the old traditional manual method of score updates. From people putting up numbers. Pah, who needs computers or Caroline yelling them at you?!!

I’ve always felt that the half time scoreboard at Bayview Park was one of the most characteristic features of the old ground. It used to have pride and place beside the advertising hoardings at the School End of the ground. Right by the corner flag. I seem to remember it moving into the far corner of the away end later on, which may just be my memory playing tricks on me, but then one day it was gone, never to be seen again.




East Fife Bayview Park Scoreboard

It was nothing fancy, but I always felt an important and charming feature of Bayview was missing. For those of you who have no idea what I’m slavering about, check out the photo. For those that do remember it, check out the photo and remember!

They were at all grounds and for them to have any meaning, you, or someone near you, had to have a copy of the programme at hand. Listed in there were all of the day’s fixtures and each fixture had a letter assigned to it. The old Bayview scoreboard had 15 spaces on it. No I or O or Q to avoid confusion, just a straight A to R.

Every half time a couple of lads would trot round to the scoreboard and put the numbers up against each letter to let you know what was happening in each game. A time consuming event I’ll agree, especially as there was a tannoy system to tell you, but it was a vital and traditional part of your day at the fitba. It also helped when they actually put the scores up against the correct letters! And if you were away to the loo or for a pie, they were there for all to see for the second half.

As electronic scoreboards came along in the bigger grounds, the old fashioned half time scoreboard became a thing of the past and of course nowadays the top clubs have super duper computer screens with instant replays and all sorts. A long journey from wooden letters and plastic numbers. I can’t remember exactly when the Bayview one disappeared but someone obviously forgot to order our plasma screen replacement.

I wonder if people will look back in the future and say “remember when that wifey used to yell the scores at us from her hand held mic?”!! You never know!

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