Monday, August 5, 2013

The feelgood factor is back at Bayview. We've missed it, replaced as it was by another set of F words altogether.

Another new season and football fans across the land are filled with hope, expectation and a joy that their Saturdays can be put to good use again.

I've written before in these blog pieces about the often misplaced excitement each new season brings. Ultimately, the vast majority of football fans in Scotland are going to finish the season disappointed. Some very much so.

We came close to that ourselves last season but despite playing some horrible football at times and the lows that went with Billy Brown's now infamous open mic night, things ended on a high. I'm still not sure how if I'm being honest.

Who would have thought that a 9th place finish in the Scottish Second Division would end up creating such jubilant scenes and an actual feeling of achievement?

Maybe I was wrong all these years and the playoffs do serve some purpose in the Scottish game. It certainly felt like we'd won something. For those in attendance at Balmoor on May 19th, it was a feeling akin to having won promotion and after a winter of discontent, it set Fife fans up for a summer of solace.

76 days have passed since that Playoff Final victory. In reality of course, it just meant we had avoided being back in the dregs of Scottish football by the skin of our teeth.

Div Muir's goal at Peterhead elevated him to folklore status and if/when he comes back from his Canadian adventure with Toronto Lynx he should never have to put his hand in his pocket for a drink in local pubs for many a year.

We may have just avoided relegation by the skin of our teeth, not something to usually celebrate, but the repercussions from that goal were huge for the future of our football club.

That 48th minute strike meant that we have found ourselves in a League with two massive sets of fixtures to look forward to against Dunfermline and Rangers. The despair of being relegated and missing out on those would have been the final straw for many.

Staying up will have a massive bearing on the finances of East Fife and our immediate future, with four bumper home gates to look forward to and money from likely television coverage added in to that too.

Most of our support will have never seen us play League games against either. And let's be honest again here. 18 months ago, we would never have thought that we would be any time soon. How the "mighty" have fallen.

How different it could have been had Div not buried that chance. We'd be looking forward to trips to and from East Stirling and Albion Rovers instead.

Seeing how long it took for us to crawl out of the basement the last time we fell down there, it wouldn't have been an easy journey back and could have sounded the death knell for our proud Club in these changing times for Scottish football.

Now, we've already moved up a division and are playing in League One!

And of course, we have new, local owners, a new management team and a brand new squad.

Lee Murray's acquisition of East Fife has brought back a feelgood factor that hasn't been around for what feels too long a time. You actually feel good about supporting the club again and giving them your money.

But we should temper that joy and the expectations that go with it and be realistic. We're not going to become world beaters overnight.

The new board have breathed fresh life into the club off the pitch, with some excellent and long overdue changes and new ideas, but it will still take some time to see the results on it.

And that's where we all come in.

It's good to have our expectations. We all should have. But we need to make sure we bring patience and are not on the backs of the players like we have been in the past. This new squad will take time to gel but the roots for growing this club once again have been planted, especially around the youth set up.

This will be an exciting season. We're going to see some great games and there will be an interest in the club not seen for many a year from everyone from the Levenmouth public to the national media.

I'm hoping for the playoffs, along with taking several points of both the Pars and Newco, but as long as we don't end up in a relegation dogfight then that's improvement.

It's also progress I didn't think I'd be seeing just three months ago. That alone is reason to feel good right now. Anything else is a bonus.

'Mon the Fife

[This blog post first appeared in the East Fife programme 'The Bayview' on Saturday August 3rd 2013]

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