Wednesday, March 2, 2011

It's not been an easy season for those of an East Fife persuasion. Inconsistancies and a relegation battle seem to be the two main outcomes of a season that promised so much during the freeflowing goalfest that was the pre-season.

My twenty quid bet's out the window, but it's not just the fans that are feeling the frustrations, the players and management are too.

Recent results have seen a barrage of comments and criticism on our forum about the performances we've been seeing and the results we've been getting.

With some players, especially club captain Steven Hislop, being singled out for personal criticism, the players felt that enough was enough and issued a statement in the programme for last night's match against Peterhead:

It is with regret that the captain’s column has been put on hold for this fixture as the team would like to issue a statement to those who are best referred to as the “minority”.

We are concerned that in recent weeks some comments on the AFTN forum have crossed the thin line between strong criticism and personal attack. We all understand and appreciate that the forum allows the fans to express their opinion and have their say but as a team, we firmly consider that some of the posts have become personal and damaging.

We, as a team, know more than anyone that we have under-performed this season. However, the table does not lie and we are where we are due to poor team performances and not individual performances. We win as a team and lose as a team and that is our philosophy. We back each other 100% on and off the park and have a very good camaraderie. Yes we appreciate that there is disappointment when some of us are not in the starting eleven or even the squad of sixteen on match day but we all wish each other the best and want the best for East Fife Football Club and its loyal fans. If a certain player has had a bad game, we all share his disappointment as we are a team. It is up to all of us to ensure that where a team-mate is having a poor game, we still support each other on the pitch. The least we will all give is 100% commitment; we owe that to the supporters.

The team does fully appreciate the support it receives from the vast majority of the fans. We would like to invite any supporters who have concerns about team and individual performances to come to the dressing room either at training or after a match to discuss them with us, as the club operates an “open door” policy.

We accept that in this day and age, a fans forum is part and parcel of football, yet it is unfortunate, as it appears to the team, that certain individuals choose to express their views in anonymity.

The team would also like to make clear that we are in no doubt whatsoever of the manager’s 100% commitment to the club. This has also been highlighted on the AFTN forum and is another issue that has disappointed the team as a whole.

As regards to tonight’s game, all supporters can be assured that the team, whoever is selected in the starting eleven, or who may come on as a substitute, will be doing their upmost to win this match. Your continued support throughout the game will be appreciated as always by the players. Enjoy the game.


Strong stuff but we at AFTN are pleased that the issue has been raised, if a little surprised at what news it has become. It even made the front page of The Courier newspaper today.

We let a lot go on the forum. The forum is self regulated by regular posters (and four moderators, including myself) but sometimes the criticism gets very very strong. There is a fine line between strong criticism and personal abuse. That line varies for different people and if you are the person being attacked then that line is very short indeed.

We have removed some posts over the years where we feel the line has been crossed. We also try to leave threads open so that the players can see that if the original poster is ridiculous with their judgements, then other posters will stick up for the player and show their support. We do this to show him that the majority don't feel that way. Sometimes though, the majority do feel that way.

No one likes to be criticised. I don't. I'm sure you don't. I admit I don't have my job scrutinised and criticised on a public forum.

A lot of flak has been aimed at AFTN over the years. We dish it out so we can take it back. A lot of people tend to forget that AFTN is more than just the forum though. There's a whole website, much of it historical, along with this blog and other social media.

Being a footballer is one of those rare jobs where your performances are always going to be scrutinised publically. We're not saying that makes it right to dish out non stop abuse.

Players and their families reading fan forums have to be aware that they might not like what they read inside and be prepared to read criticism, some of it upsetting to them. I've read a lot worse on other forums than what we've had on AFTN at times.

Steven Hislop has been singled out for a lot of the criticism this season and at some point it's going to get to you. He's only human after all.

Our support have been awful at times over the years for singling out players and making their lives hell, pouncing on their every mistake and poor performance and crucifying the fuck out of them. Last season it was Michael Brown. I'm sure we can all run off a list of names before him as well.

This is not just a problem reserved for the AFTN forum. It's rife at the games and it needs to stop before no players or managers want to have anything to do with the Club.

I've only seen one Fife game this season, so I can't share my views on how Hissy has been playing. If people are paying their money every week to watch the games then I firmly believe that they have a right to express their opinions and I will defend that right and their right to anonymity on the forum to the end.

If people want a forum where they can post under their own name or with a registered sign in, then they already have one. It's on the official Club website.

People want that certain anonymity. The Club need to ask themselves why people aren't happy coming forward with their real name and look at the problem within and the history behind it.

Yes, it can be construed as cowardly. Many regular posters can easily be identified and are known by their user name. The problem lies with those that seem to appear out of the blue with a new username to criticise. They're not always "new". We can trace that. So why don't they feel comfortable criticising under their usual username? Again, a question for the Club to consider.

Some posters do need to take a long hard look at themselves and what they're posting. Everyone should stop and think before they post. If they're being abusive, how would they feel if that was posted about them? I have no problem whatsover with posters being critical and very harsh. Out and out abuse is another thing though and again there's that fine line and where individuals see that line.

Everyone should also remember that no player goes out there to play badly. I'm sure you all have bad days at work. The players, the team and the fans all want the same thing and that's East Fife winning. Do you honestly think that being hypercritical of every little mistake or bad performance is going to make things better?

All this constant criticism will do is to piss of current and potential players. Word will get out and then who's going to want to join us?

It's good that the latest threads has brought this topic to the forefront. All the negativity from certain people starts to wear you down. Even I can't be arsed reading my own forum at times.

It used to be a fun and vibrant place to visit. Let's hope this situation brings some of that back again.

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