Thursday, July 30, 2009

East Fife finally wrapped up their pre season games last night with a 2-0 loss at home to a Hibernian XI.

Charging ridiculous prices and playing games against less than exciting opposition is hardly going to bring the crowds flocking in to Bayview, as last night's paltry crowd of 361 showed.

Pre-season friendlies and friendlies in general really, I can take them or leave them. It’s hard to get too excited by a lot of them. Yes it’s a great chance to see the new players and for the squad to get to know each other, but all the substitutions take away any aspect of the spectacle. And do 7-1 drubbings really tell the manager or the fans anything positive, let alone boost the confidence of the players?!

The annual tour is something different though and something to be looked forward to, when you don’t need a canoe, galoshes and scuba gear to take them in, like this year in Durham, that is.

Every now and again the pre-season does throw up clashes to whet the appetite, even a tournament. We had just that of course with East Fife in the 1980’s, the perfect pre-season tournament, but it disappeared without a trace.

What am I talking about? The Fife Cup tournament weekend.

The Fife Cup has seemed devalued in recent years, despite our successes, but it wasn’t always that way and in the 80’s they seemed to have found the ideal format for it – a weekend long tournament at one rotational venue in the pre-season.

Starks Park was the host of the first one in 1986. East Fife beat Dunfermline in the semi final on the Saturday, before losing to Raith in the final on Sunday. The 1987 tournament was held at Central Park, but East Fife never made it through to the big show at Cowdenbeath, losing their preliminary tie at home to the Rovers.

It was Dunfermline and East End Park’s turn to host proceedings in 1988. East Fife lost out to Cowdenbeath on penalties in Saturday’s semi final.

Then it came to 1989 and East Fife’s turn to host the tournament at Bayview. We’re still waiting!

For whatever reasons, the Fife FA decided to abandon the tournament idea and the fixtures went back to being slotted in between club’s other fixtures just whenever was possible. Looking at what fixtures we had that pre-season, our last one was a 6-1 thrashing of Inverness Clachnacuddin at Bayview. Surely a Fife Cup tournament would have been more useful preparation for that season and certainly a lot more enjoyable for the fans to watch?

In more recent years, it seems even harder to get the fixtures played. When you’re playing the previous season’s final well into the following season then you know that something, somewhere has gone drastically wrong with the competition!

The pre season Fife Cup tournament had been a great success. The fans loved it, the crowds were excellent, especially for that time of year, and it built up the great rivalries between the clubs and their fans once again. Good, friendly rivalries, with the fans mixing in the stands and terraces. It was also great value for money and you actually saw some good, competitive pre-season action.

For me, it was THE perfect pre-season “friendly” for East Fife. Even if the clubs were to be meeting on league business during the season, it didn’t matter.

We should all be looking to restore some respect back to the Fife Cup and there’s no better way than to reinstate it to tournament form and get it back to being played in the pre-season. I'm sure that the Dunfermline supporters would have enjoyed their 7-1 victory all the more if there was silverware at stake.

So the campaign starts here. Who’s with me? This time next season, we could have something a little bit more exciting to talk about instead of the weather! We can't guarantee no more horrendous defeats though.

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