Monday, 9 May 2011

Dunfermline Athletic - East End Park (2)

7th May 2011

Dunfermline Athletic 3-0 Falkirk

This match was, of course, Dunfermline Athletic’s promotion party – a return to the Scottish Premier League after a four year absence.  And there are probably few better ways to party than to give your local rivals a fair old spanking in the process.  

The goals, for the record came from two Nick PHINN headers in the 21st and 52nd minutes, plus a late counter from sub Pat CLARKE, three minutes from time.

That matches with Falkirk FC have evolved into the Pars’ local derby seems to me to be more a marriage of convenience than to have much basis in geographical reality.  Falkirk’s local derby should be with East Stirlingshire, and Dunfermline’s with Cowdenbeath, but such is the disparity between the two halves of these pairings, they rarely share the same league division.  

There were, perhaps understandably, less than 100 Falkirk supporters in East End Park this afternoon, but I was cheered to note around 20 or so stayed to applaud Dunfermline receiving the First Division trophy.  I should like to think I would be that magnanimous.

The honorable few Falkirk fans who stayed to
acknowledge The Champions - take a bow, folks.

Is this football or synchronised Zumba?

Falkirk's Austrian 'keeper Robert Olejnik slaps clear a Joe Cardle corner-kick.

I, along with Son, had been to three Cup Finals (Two Scottish Cup and one Challenge Cup) with Dunfermline and, although we had both attended a number of matches in the various cup runs, I always felt a bit of an intruder at these occasions.  There seemed an element of Glory Hunting involved as, not being a born Fifer, I had not grown up making the emotional investment many of the other attendees had.

This triumph, however, felt different.  I felt I had earned my right to be part of the fun.  I had endured Dunfermline’s first match after relegation (at Hamilton in August 2007).  I had followed the club to Clyde, Partick Thistle, Dundee and Hearts over the years since.  And even this season, I was there to witness a seemingly endless run of midweek draws, including 85 minutes of hapless nonsense at Stirling Albion.  Son and I had forked out to lend our support at the big one against Raith Rovers two weeks ago, and were present when the title was clinched through at Morton.  

Yep, we had earned our right to party.

At the end of every season each club
invariably releases a number of balloons.

Jim McIntyre.

And yet there was still an odd feeling of unease about being part of all this.  To explain – I had moved to Fife in 1993, and for the following 10 years or so Dunfermline Athletic barely impinged upon my consciousness.  I had attended two or three matches over the years, but only as a mildly interested neutral – junior football was still where my main obsession lay.  But it was Son’s emerging awareness of football as he grew older which begat regular trips to East End Park.  

I was determined should he decide to support anyone it should be his local team, so exposure to Dunfermline Athletic became part of a cynical and calculated brainwashing of Son, to attempt to keep him out of the greedy clutches of either of Glasgow’s Ugly Sisters.  Fortunately, this period coincided with a spell when Dunfermline, spending beyond their means as it later transpired, had amassed a number of pretty decent players at the club: Stevie Crawford, Craig Brewster, Barry Nicholson, Scott Wilson and the like.  

Consequently Son saw just wins and draws for his first dozen games or so.  Indeed, the first time he tasted defeat was at the 2004 Scottish Cup Final – Big Bloody Bobo’s handball and all!

Anyway, the point is by season 2010/11 Son and I were both committed Pars fans.  We knew the team had its flaws, but it was our team, our flaws.  We knew Neil McGregor was going to do at least one silly thing per game, and despite all his talent we knew Nick Phinn would just disappear out of matches for whole half-hours at a time.  We knew we would never get much more than an hour out of Alex Burke.  

Steven Bell, although a bit of a hot-head, we realised could do opponents severe damage down their left flank, and up front we accepted the injury prone Andy Kirk’s strike partners Pat Clarke or Steven McDougall were maybe not quite of the calibre of some of their predecessors.  All these limitations were acknowledged, accepted and forgiven, as the team by Xmas were doing rather well.

But then came the January transfer window and in came Liam Buchanan, Kevin Rutkiewitz, Martin Hardie and Graham Bayne - a third of a team, really.  Don’t get me wrong, I am the last to understate the contribution made by these lads, particularly Hardie.  Indeed, it is quite possible promotion would not have been attained without his eight goals.  

But there was still this lingering feeling that there was a little bit of financial doping going on here.  OK, it happens everywhere – this is the name of the (football) game.  Our club has more money than yours, so we can buy better players than yours.  And, I suppose, you need someone with a bit of nous to ensure the money is spent wisely (which Mr McIntyre, certainly did), but I was nevertheless left with a slight niggle, that maybe there was a bit of a “Big Club buying the League” feel to it.  

A touch of that Old Firm style capitalism, I had tried to steer Son away from…………………but not enough to stop me dancing.  J

The East Stand - usually used to house away support.

Panorama of East End Park, Dunfermline.


  1. Steven Bell has never played at left midfield and also hasn't played since November btw.

    And all those players came in for free's, Martin Hardie is on a pay as you play deal, Dinky is a loan signing from St Johnstone, Bayne was on nominal wage to try prove his fitness.
    Both our title rivals did buy, Rovers brought in Gary Wales and McBride, Falkirk brought in some loan signing from Rangers(Perry?) was just a case neither made as big an impact.

  2. Grant. Thank you for your input.

    I am aware Bell plays on the right and I think my blog (perhaps not clearly) states he tends to do his business on the opponents' left flank.

    Your comments regarding the club's financial arrangements and Falkirk's incomers are, of course, quite valid.

    I suppose I was trying to articulate my sympathy for the likes of Dowie, Clarke, Higgins and Phinn who had each made a significant contribution to getting us to where we were prior to Xmas, and who then had to spend much of their time afterwards watching from the sidelines, their places taken by incomers. Although injuries did play a role, I acknowledge.

    Anyway, Upwards & Onwards.