Friday, 29 April 2011

East Fife - Bayview Park

18th April 1998 

East Fife 0-2 Clydebank

This was a second attempt to tick Bayview Park off the list.  I had taken the short trip up the Fife coast a few weeks earlier, only to notice halfway there I had forgotten my camera.  And, of course, I needed pics to properly tick the box, particularly given this was East Fife’s last season at Bayview prior to decanting to a new home near Methill docks.  I had contemplated purchasing a disposable camera, but decided to divert to a junior match, and return to Bayview later. 

And glad I did, otherwise I would have missed the decidedly bizarre spectacle of a few dozen of the Clydebank FC travelling support venting their wrath at their own club’s owners by cheering every miss by their team, and hooting every positive move their side put together.  

Bankies’ Manager Ian McCall, in particular, seemed to raise the ire of this bunch, with the afternoon’s biggest cheer coming when the ref chose to give McCall a ticking off following some overly dramatic whining about some decision or other. 

To understand the reasons for this odd behaviour a short history lesson is probably apt here.  Clydebank FC were elected to the Scottish League back in 1966, and really acquited themselves rather well, including spending three seasons in the Premier League.  

The decline began with the sale of the club in 1996 to an American-based businessman who promptly sold off the ground for development.  The club then endured six years of ground-sharing with various clubs, during which time attempts were made to relocate to such diverse locations as Galashiels, Carlisle and Dublin.  

And it was the proposed attempt to take their club to the Irish capital that these vociferous Bankies fans were protesting about this afternoon.  Clydebank FC eventually ended up in Airdrie, rebranded as Airdrie United, a direct replacement for recently liquidated Airdrieonians FC.  A sneaky piece of sleight-of-hand which left a bad taste in many mouths (if that is not mixing too many metaphors).

Bayview Park - the ground closed in 1998.
The land is now used for housing.
above is the same view of the corner of Kirkland Road and Wellesley Road in 2016.

The main stand, Bayview Park.
 Despite the singular backdrop to proceedings both sides served up quite an entertaining afternoon’s fare, with the Bankie Boo-Boys given two opportunities to vent their wrath when first Colin McDONALD and then Gary TEALE scored in a 2-0 win.  East Fife toiled away, with former Sweden International Robert Prytz prominent in their midfield, even smacking the crossbar at one point, but they were well beaten in the end.

I was pleased to see Innes Ritchie, a former Bathgate player, getting a regular game for the Fifers.  Ritchie had been farmed out to Bathgate by Motherwell as a teenager in the early 1990s ostensibly as a central-defender, but he was such a class above the rest of the side we eventually started playing him at centre-forward.  

His career never quite took off at Motherwell (although he did make around 40 appearances, mostly as sub), and had been transferred to East Fife in 1996.

East Fife defender Innes Ritchie swoops to conquer.
Panorama of East Fife's Bayview Park, Methil.

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