Monday, August 12, 2013

When the fixtures were announced for the new season, there were a few games that every East Fife fan immediately looked for.

Who would we have in the first League game of the season? Would we have a home game for Boxing Day? And what about for New Year's Day? When would we be playing Rangers? And when were the eagerly awaited Fife derbies against Dunfermline be back on the calendar?

Bizarrely it turned out that the answer to the last question was also provided by the first one.

It's only been 83 days since both sides had their contrasting fortunes decided in their respective playoff finals, and now they meet today on League business for the first time since all of us of a black and gold persuasion would care to remember.

The answers to some of the other questions posed above were thankfully, yes, two home games around the festive period and hopefully much needed bumper gate and hospitality receipts for the Club if mother nature plays nice.

But what is with the New Year game? Why no Fife derby and we host Arbroath and not Dunfermline? It's absolutely ridiculous, as I'm sure Pars fans reading this and having a January 2nd trip to face Stenhousemuir would agree. At least we're not having to head somewhere ridiculous like Stranraer.

New Year time is all about old acquaintances after all and after years of going in opposite directions, East Fife and Dunfermline only have a handful of Cup games in recent years to have helped keep themselves reacquainted with each other.

For those of us of a certain age it never used to be that way and we have many fond memories of battles at Bayview and trips to East End Park between these Fife foes.

When I first started watching East Fife in the 1980s I loved the games with Dunfermline and I looked forward to them more than the ones against Raith. It was helped of course by having AFTN hate figure Jim Leishman in charge at the Pars those days and say what you will about him, and we did, it's actually great that he's still around and playing such an important role in the club still today.

What fun we had at his expense in the fanzine, and then one day we found ourselves chatting to him at a pre-season friendly at Rosyth when he revealed he was an avid reader!

For those with memories of the 70s and long before that, there are some many great games between the two sides in the history books.

It still doesn't feel all that long ago that we were in a division higher than the Pars, whilst they had some battles of their own, both on and off the field, with Queen of the South in the old Division 2.

When we found ourselves in the same division, pushing for promotion to the promised land of the Premier League, there were some cracking games.

The 4-2 win for the Fife at East End Park on August 30th 1986 is still one of the my favourite games I've ever attended. There were 4,448 in attendance that day, as the Fife ran rampant with two goals from Brian McNaughton and one apiece from Stuart Burgess and Hugh Hill. Those two Pars goals couldn't dampen the black and gold mood.

Neither could being soaked to the bone for the 1-1 game at East End Park on New Year's Day that season.

Ah, 1986/87. When the Scottish League fixtures makers actually had commonsense.

The 4-2 game had come just days after the Fife took a newly built, Souness-led Rangers team to penalties in the Skol Cup at Bayview.

Such happy days and a period of hope and respective glory on the pitch.

For as we mentioned in last week's blog, there is a whole section of the Fife support who don't know what it's like to play the Pars on a regular basis, and even less who remember Rangers coming on League duty.

Many couldn't have seen those days coming around any time soon, but whilst East Fife have been financially prudent all these years off the pitch, and suffered as a result on it, our big spending neighbours and the blue yins from Glasgow have had their glories but now find themselves back down to earth with a huge bump.

Meaning now we're playing Dunfermline and Rangers again. Those fixtures are back. Let's hope that the relative glory days are too.

Another 4-2 victory today would do just nicely to kick things off.

'Mon the Fife.

[This blog post originally appeared in the East Fife programme 'The Bayview' on Saturday August 10th 2013 - minus the picture!]

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