East Fife Football Club
Centenary Celebration 2003
(Exhibition at Buckhaven Museum)
Programme front and back from the last game at Bayview
East Fife Football Club - Bayview - from the air
East Fife fans bid last farewell to Bayview
(The following 3 pictures and article are taken from the
East Fife Mail, November 11, 1998 - written by Iain Collin)
After almost a century of football, East Fife's Bayview Park has closed its gates for the last time. As the fans left at full-time in the game against Livingston last Saturday, Bayview was added to the list of famous old Scottish grounds consigned to the history books.
Kilbowie no more, Broomfield no more, Anfield no more, Muirton no more. And now, more importantly, Bayview no more. The final match with Livingston proved to be an emotional experience as the realisation hit home that fans were standing on their favourite spot on the famous slopes for the last time.
There was a sparse crowd of just 760 to see East Fife bid farewell to Bayview - a far cry from the ground's record attendance of 22,515 for a match against Fife rivals Raith Rovers in 1950. With the club still possibly needing the pitch for training, those 760 loyal supporters were denied the chance to take home a piece of the hallowed turf, but many still said their final farewells in there own personal
Years of history were replayed in people's minds as they made their slower than usual way out of the ground, stopping for one last lingering look at their beloved Bayview. Some did manage to snatch a souvenir - but the very fact that it was a piece of the crumbling terrace showed that the time had come for a move to the brand new stadium at Methil docks which will signal the dawn of a new era in the club's history.
Empty the room with no Bayview
(The following picture and article are taken from the Scotsman
Monday, 2 November 1998 - written by Donald Walker)
A minutes silence was sprung on the hardy few who turned up at Bayview Park on Saturday to pay their last respects to the 95-year-old ground, as East Fife took the field there for the last time. The tribute was for a former club secretary, who had died last week. You felt sure she would not have been offended if thoughts during that moment of contemplation turned to another passing away before our eyes.
Soon the bulldozers will move in to demolish the grand old home of East Fife and turn the park into housing. A new ground nearby in Methil has been over two years in the conception, but I still find it hard to believe that this is really the end of Bayview, despite the compelling evidence of a brand new stadium at Methil docks.
The demise of Bayview means only eight clubs still play at their original homes: Aberdeen, Ayr United, Dumbarton, Dundee United, Dunfermline, Forfar, Montrose and Queen of the South. Half of these will no doubt go the same way as Bayview, and the game will be poorer for it.
My father first took me to Bayview 22 years ago this week, and we have been going along together ever since. But if ever there was a sign of the passing years, it is the realisation that I now take him. On that first visit, I was lifted over the turnstiles to see East Fife take on a team called St. Mirren, ably guided by a man called Ferguson. A thrilling 3-3 draw ensued, and I was hooked. Three years ago, Alex Ferguson returned with his Manchester United side to play a testimonial, and a young lad called Beckham, of whom we'd never heard, scored a couple of stunning goals. It's perhaps fair to say he's gone on to greater things, and I sometimes wonder if he can ever recall Bayview.
The result of the final match against Livingston didn't matter, although I would dearly have loved my team to avoid defeat on this day of all days. After 15 minutes of backs-to-the-wall heroics, substitute Mark McCormick made it 3-2 to the visitors with a deft overhead kick.
"Worst f****** defending I've seen in my life," raged the sock puller, whose memory must expire every sixth day. I laughed, but I could have cried. At the end, there was no pitch invasion, just a reluctant drift towards the exits. We couldn't even dig up the hallowed turf as a souvenir. Some chose to linger awhile, as I did with my father. After 22 years, if felt like someone was taking part of my life.
I thought of Billy McPhee, a hero at East Fife in the Seventies whose father so loved the club his ashes were scattered on the pitch. How must Billy feel, knowing the ground would soon be no more?
I remember my mother's story of being held high on her father's shoulders to see the team bring back the Scottish Cup, and the pride the town once had for its club. I was glad she wasn't there to witness the end. My father cast a last look over the place, and I caught a few of his words as he said his own goodbye.
"That's 60 years I can't. . . ." I saw the look on his face. It was time to go.
Taken in July 2003, the former Bayview site
I'm sure the Bayview bar will have many stories to tell...
Two views of the new stadium at Methil Docks
The new stand facing the old power station (not very picturesque)
Our very own tribute from the Braehead News front cover 1964.
'Outside Bayview' by Tom Shaw 2G
The following links and resources
are available for East Fife FC
East Fife Football Club
East Fife FC Historian Web site
The above book is now available from the link above, £10.00 incl p&p.
'That windswept plain above the town' was how the local press often referred to Town Hall Park, a sports field situated on high ground above the town of Methil, during the early 1900's
It was on that windswept plain that the newly formed East Fife Football Club set up home during the summer of 1903. After re-naming the field Bayview Park, the Fifers played their first ever match on the 15th August 1903 against Heart of Midlothian. None of the spectators who lined the ropes that afternoon could possibly have known that they were witnessing the birth of a football club destined to have a huge impact on the Scottish game. In 1927, just six years after being admitted to the Scottish League, the Fifers achieved the remarkable feat of reaching the Scottish Cup Final whilst still a Second Division side. Eleven years later, again as a Second Division club, the men from Methil went one better and brought Scottish Football's greatest prize home after beating Kilmarnock at Hampden on 27th April 1938.
The decade following the Second World War, however, was undoubtedly the best period in the club's history, when they won the Scottish League Cup three times and were widely regarded as Scotland's most successful provincial football club. This book tells the story of East Fife's first 100 years, from their foundation in 1903 through to the present day, when the club won promotion in their Centenary year by scoring with virtually the last kick of the ball in the final match of the season against Queen's Park at New Bayview Stadium.
(The above text taken from the Back cover of this great book)
The Unofficial East Fife Web Site
Something to Shout About
Is a new publication printed locally and written by James Hastie.
It is a singular view of East Fife Football Club.
A personal celebration of East Fife Football Club, its players, especially, its
supporters in the clubs centenary year, 2003. (softback, 113 pages)
He would stand at the top level of Bayview Park's terracing (Aberhill end), his hands thrust deep in the pockets of an ancient herringbone overcoat, a long black and gold scarf - obviously handknitted - wrapped several times around his neck.
Occasionally he would shout a word of hope or encouragement, but in the main he said nothing. Just watched as the East Fife matches unfolded. And he stood there, same spot, season after season... until around 1957, when he vanished from Bayview with a gesture of despair and a cry of exasperation: "C'mon Fife - gie us something to shout about - like in the auld days."
Though it was easy to identify with the fan's vexation, those "auld days" were, in fact, not so old. Just a decade or two prior to 1957 East Fife Football Club had:
* Won the Scottish Cup (1938), becoming the first second division club to Scotland's premier knock-out trophy . . .
* Won the Scottish League Cup (1947), becoming the first second division club to have its name inscribed on the silverware.
* Won the League Cup twice more (1949 and 1953), becoming the first team to score a hat-trick of victories in the competition.
* Become the first provincial side to appear in two finals (League Cup and Scottish) in the same season (1949/50).
* Given the Glasgow-Edinburgh axis, the dominating Rangers, Celtic, Hearts and Hibs teams, something to worry about in the shape of a talented club from a wee town at the utter end of a minor road in Fife, and coming close, on several occasions, to wresting the league championship from the big boys' grasp.
* Set a never-to-be-eclipsed record of playing more minutes of cup-tie football than any other team in one season (1938).
Yet more . . . East Fife was the first club, along with Celtic, to have a game boadcast live by the BBC - the 1927 Cup Final which, sadly, was lost 3-1. It was the first club in Scotland to play a competitive match under floodlights - a first round Scottish Cup tie against Stenhousemuir in 1956, a game they uncomprehendingly lost to their lowly opponents by 3-1. The team pioneered floodlit friendly matches, playing strength-sapping, travel-wearying mid-week matches against English teams as far flung as Bath, Swindon, Gloucester, Bristol, Carlisle, Sunderland and Reading to top up the Bayview coffers. They travelled far, and often. Played hard. And were back in Scotland for league or cup duty on the Saturday. The Fifers were the first Scottish second division side to win full international honours: George Aitken, the club's immensely talented left half, was selected for Scotland in 1947 just before the team won promotion.
East Fife couldn't help setting records, pushing back the barriers of achievement in that golden period between '38 and the mid-50's. And it was all the more remarkable, incredible even, because the wee club formed in 1903 by a bunch fitba' enthusiasts led by Jimmy Campbell, proprietor and mine host of the Steamboat Tavern in Methil, could have had fewer expectations than Oliver Twist. Even when they broke through to the Scottish League in 1921, after the considerable feat of winning the Scottish Qualifying Cup a year earlier, they were thought by newspaper cynics in Glasgow and Edinburgh to be mere "chaff", or as a Glasgow Bulletin reporter saw it: ". . . another tiny team to clutter up the lower league." Years ahead East Fife would make that kind of comment appear plain stupid.
But in the grey, uncelebrated inter-war seasons there might have been some sense in the Bulletin man's opinion. Why should East Fife expect to do better than, say, Forfar Athletic or King's Park of Stirling or Perth's St Johnstone? Or even county neighbours, Lockgelly United, who were admitted to the Scottish 2nd Division at the same time.
Aficionados of football know, now, the history . . . magnificent years of accomplishment and triumph, not only in terms of trophies won and status achieved, but in the manner East Fife played their football. Immensely skilled individuals, personalities all, blended as a unit to produce a standard of performance - a kind of soccer sophisticaiton - most other clubs could only admire and never even attempt to counterfeit.
But it was all condensed into a period of less than two decades.
From 1938 through the mid-forties to the early fifties East Fife, by astute management, some luck, and a great deal of applied ability, was a team admired, feared and respected for their studied, athletic and masterly approach to the game. Not only in Fife, not only in Scotland, but also in the UK and in the more knowledgeable football countries of that period. Had it not been for the tedious intervention of Austrian housepainter Adolf Schickelgruber, who wasted everybody's time between 1939 and 1945, the possibilities for East Fife might have been boundless - but, to the immense regret of all Fifers, they can only remain speculative. Their Scottish Cup win had given the club confidence and, more important, a cash reserve to build a team capable of reaching the top league, the 1st Division in those days, and staying there.
Instead, as a dry handwritten not scrawled in East Fife's official record book observes, "League cancelled owing to outbreak of war."
They returned, however in '45 with a determination barely different from the single-minded resolve they set about winning the Scottish Cup.
And it is those years of achievement this book salutes: years that took the club to a level envied by all the real wee teams, and not a few of the so-called major players.
Now, available to buy from Buckhaven Library at £7.99 per copy.
East Fife - Northern Soccer Kings
Summary (part of)
The UK popularity of East Fife Football Club in 1953/54 as floodlight football made its introduction to the game is there for all to see.
The people who had the foresight in 1903 to "invent" East Fife Football Club would be very satisfied that they have reached their 100th year. Many attempts to put such names as Kings Park, St. Bernards and Lochgelly United on the football map failed.
It is important that the history of the Club is recorded for future generations. Once section of this history was in years 1953/1954 as floodlighting made its introduction to the game.
East Fife seemed to be at the top of everyone's invitation list. We shall never know how many were turned down. The reports in this book are by the 'Biased' journalists used to publicising the home team but in nearly every report they have had to concede that the team from Fife was the best.
Introduction (part of)
In this Centenary Year of East Fife Football Club attention has to be drawn to the exploits of the Club during these hundred years.
One such period was in 1953 and 1954 when the team was on a high in Scottish Football. Invitations rolled in for the Club to play under the new floodlight systems in England.
The Sunderland Echo in its pre-match review of the game between Sunderland and East Fife in February 1953 described floodlights as "a most attractive and lucrative innovation."
The dictionary meaning of 'innovation' is 'something newly 'introduced' and I suspect the Sunderland Echo as well as myself was surprised when the 2003 Spring edition of 'Soccer History' did a six page section showing artificial light at football matches took place as early as 1878.
The article in 'Soccer History' states "that a form of electric lighting had been possible since the middle of the 19th century mainly used in light-houses. The invention of the dynamo-electric machine which produced enough power to light a number of lights soon followed. The lights were on wooden platforms or supported on wooden poles."
Occasional matches under lights were held up to 1890 but the novelty of it eventually waned to be re-introduced some 60 years later.
The younger of the present day supporters who have grown up taking floodlighting at football matches for granted have no idea what football was like without them. Midwinter meant early kick off's, some as early as 2.00 p.m. Midweek cup replays were played on a Wednesday afternoon and time of work to go, as well as a fixture backlog of postponed games in the last few weeks of the season.
It seems difficult to imagine now but it took three years for lighting to be used in competitive matches. There was general opposition and the authorities had to wait till a majority of clubs had them because it was thought that clubs with lights would have an advantage over those without.
A great wee booklet that is available from Buckhaven Library or from the author at a cost of £4.00. (I would expect there to be a cost if you want the booklet posted):
64 Robertson Avenue,
Fife. KY8 4AP
Also available from this author at this address is "Black and Gold All the Way". Special memories of supporting East Fife over 50 years from 1949 - 1999. (no price given, please write and ask for a price).