Away From The Numbers

A BRIEF HISTORY OF EAST FIFE FOOTBALL CLUB

Bayview ParkBayview StadiumEast Fife FC #1AFTN Flag38 Cup Winning Squad47 Cup Winning Squad

1903-19 | 1920s | 1930s | 1940s | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s

1903-19

East Fife Football Club were formed in 1903.

There were a lot of football clubs in the Levenmouth area at this time but there was a growing desire to see a senior football team in the area. Meetings were held in Methil on March 9th and April 2nd and after the initial suggested name of East of Fife FC was rejected, East Fife FC came into being and are still going strong over 100 years later.

Town Hall Park in Methil became the new club's home ground. It was renamed Bayview Park and was to be the Club's home for 94 years.

The Club's colours were set as green and white hoped shirts with white shorts - the colours of Sir John Gilmour, who had until recently been the Colonel of the local Fife Light Horse regiment.

Harry Allan - East Fife's First Signing and Club Captain
Harry Allan
Former Scottish internationalist Harry Allan gained the distinction of being the first player signed to the new side and the Club played their first competitive match against Hearts on August 15th 1903, drawing 2-2, with J Nangle scoring East Fife's historic first ever goal.

The first ever East Fife team line up was: W. Moffat, Harry Allan, Tom Drummond, Peter Middlemass, D. Melville, Willie Bell, J. Nangle, Houston, Arthur McArdle, Willie Wilson, Manson.

The Club's first ever win was the following week in a 2-1 friendly win against Kirkcaldy United at Overton Park in Kirkcaldy and the Club's first ever League match was against Hearts of Beath on August 29th 1903, with the Fife running out 3-1 winners, in what was also to be their first ever win at Bayview Park.

East Fife had been granted membership of the Scottish Football Association in April of 1903, but were refused admission to the Northern League, having to settle for playing their first season of games in the Fife League, where they finished 4th of the 7 teams, notably above Raith Rovers!

Scottish Qualifying Cup matches, a number of friendlies and a Wemyss Cup semi final made up the rest of East Fife's first ever season in existence.

The Club played in both the Fife League and the Eastern League for the 1904/05 season before being admitted to the Northern League, at the third time of asking, for 1905/06, where they recorded a magnificent fifth place finish (out of 12 teams), as well as finishing runners up in the Wemyss League.

Following ground improvements and league expansion, East Fife applied to join the Scottish League but their admission was voted down as it was later in 1907 as well.

The Club continued to play in the Northern League for the next three seasons before joining the Central League for the 1909/10 season.

East Fife's Cup credentials started to be set in the 1907/08 season though, as not only did they reach the semi finals of the Consolation Cup, but they also won their first piece of silverware with a 4-2 Fife Cup Final replay win over Lochgelly United.

East Fife started the 1908/09 season in a new strip, forgoing the green and white hoops and replacing them with navy blue jerseys instead.

The 1909/10 season saw another milestone in East Fife's burgeoning Cup history as they qualified for the Scottish Cup for the first time.

January 15th 1910 saw Bayview host it's first Scottish Cup tie, with East Fife beating Hurlford 4-1. This was followed by a narrow 3-2 second round defeat at home to powerhouses Queens Park.

Another piece of silverware came winging it's way to the Bayview trophy cabinet that 09/10 season though, with the Club's first Penman Cup triumph in a 2-1 second replay against Stenhousemuir, in matches that had to be carried forward to the following season due to a fixture backlog.

Dave McLean - East Fife's First Managerial Legend
Dave McLean
That 1910/11 season was certainly one of note off the pitch. The Club were close to going bankrupt due to poor crowds and the lack of money coming into the club and eventually became a limited liability company in March 1911. The Club also switched from playing in navy blue to what was almost an all black strip. It was also the season that the East Fife legend-to-be Dave McLean was appointed player-manager, an appointment that would see East Fife grow and go from strength to strength.

A new lease of life for East Fife and this renewed enthusiasm led to the Club making a momentous decision - East Fife Football Club's colours would now be black and gold.

The 1911/12 season started with this historic change and ended with another piece of history as East Fife won their first ever Wemyss Cup, a trophy which they would retain the following season.

Leaguewise, East Fife continued to play in the Central League up to the breakout of World War One. The Scottish League decided to increase the amount of clubs in their second division for what would have been the 1914/15 season, but East Fife were again unsuccessful in their attempt to gain League membership.

Wartime let to curtailed and sporadic fixtures, with travelling around the country not being advisable, so East Fife spent the rest of wartime playing out fixtures in the Eastern League once again and bringing home the Penman Cup in the 1916/17 season and the Wemyss Cup the following season.

With the war ending and the nation still being in a state of shock and disarray at the amount of lives lost, there was no league action during what would have been a 1918/19 season but East Fife returned to league action in the Central League for 1919/20, finishing in third place and agonisingly just two points behind Bo'ness and what would have been their first Championship.

Two decades that saw the formation of the Club, the near death of it and the rise once again that set them up nicely for a roaring twenties.


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1920's


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1930's


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1940's


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1950's
The 1950/51 season saw East Fife record a tenth place finish in Division A and bow out of both the League and Scottish Cups at the first round stage, with Celtic being their downfall in the latter after a hard fought 4-2 replay defeat at Parkhead.

1951/52 saw East Fife record their highest ever League position, finishing in third place in Division A, behind champions Hibs and runners up Rangers, on 37 points, 8 behind the champions. The team again failed to progress past the first round group stages in the League Cup and went out 2-1 to Airdrie in the second round of the Scottish Cup, having beaten Eyemouth 4-0 in the first round. The team did finish the season with some silverware however, beating Cowdenbeath 2-0 in the Fife Cup Final at Bayview.

The following season saw the Fife finish with two more points, but still no advance on third place, with Rangers winning the title this time around on goal average from Hibs. No luck in the first round group stages of the League Cup again and it was a case of déjà vu as Airdrie put them out of the Scottish Cup in the second round again, this time 3-0, with the Fife having beat Vale of Leithen 7-1 in the first round. The Fife finished the season with two pieces of silverware this time. They beat Hull City on a coin toss after drawing 1-1 in the final of the East Riding Invitation Cup down in Hull and then six days later, they held onto the Fife Cup, following a 1-1 draw with Raith Rovers at Starks Park, which saw both teams share the trophy.

Manager Scot Symon left the Club at the end of the season to go and manage Preston North End with Jerry Dawson becoming the new manager.

East Fife's 1953 League Cup Winning Heroes
The 1953 Scottish League Cup Winners
1953/54 was another, and to date, last of the major Cup glory seasons in East Fife's history, winning their third League Cup trophy when they defeated Partick Thistle 3-2 at Hampden on October 24th 1953. The Cup run had seen them put out Aberdeen, Airdrie and Celtic in the group stages, followed by Dunfermline in the quarters and Hibs in the semi. The came back down to earth with a bump in the Scottish Cup, bowing out 3-0 to Queen of the South at Bayview. In the League, the Club finished in sixth place.

The following season could be deemed the one which started the downwards spiral in the Club's fortunes. It started promisingly enough, with Motherwell putting an end to the bid for a fourth League Cup trophy with a 2-1 semi final win at Hampden. An 11th place finish in the League and a 2-1 loss to Kilmarnock in the Club's opening Scottish Cup match (in the fifth round) was to follow.

1955/56 saw a further slip down the League table, finishing 12th, and a failure to advance past the first hurdle in either the League Cup group stages or against Stenhousemuir in the Scottish Cup.

1956/57 saw the Fife face something they weren't used to - a relegation battle. It was a tough season but they finished it in 15th out of 18, in what was now called Division 1, and they avoided relegation by just two points, thanks to winning both of their last two vital matches. Bowing out again during the first round group stages of the League Cup they beat St Johnstone 4-0 in the fifth round of the Scottish Cup before going out 2-0 to Kilmarnock in a sixth round replay at Rugby Park.

East Fife's 1953 League Cup Winning Heroes
Charlie McCaig
The slide continued the following season and 1957/58 saw East Fife play their last games in Division 1 for another fourteen seasons. The Club finished second bottom and were relegated, five points adrift of safety, in a season which saw them record their biggest ever defeat when a rampant Heart side won 9-0 at Tynecastle on October 5th 1957. Hearts did finish that season as Champions and with a staggering 132 league goals but still! That defeat was nearly matched earlier in the season when Airdrie destroyed the Fife 9-1 at Broomfield in the League Cup first round group sections. Unsurprisingly the Fife didn't make it through the group stages and also bowed out in the first round of the Scottish Cup against Hearts at Bayview, this time by a more respectable 2-1 scoreline however!

As the season finished, so did the managerial reign of Jerry Dawson and Charlie McCaig is appointed manager.

1958/59 saw East Fife back in Division 2 and it was the signal that it was going to be a difficult League to get out of, with competition more fierce than ever. The Club finished 8th out of 19 teams, 22 points behind the Champions Ayr United and 13 points behind Arbroath in the second promotion spot. To add to the woes were the traditional exit from the League Cup in the first round group stages and a first round Scottish Cup 2-1 defeat at Aberdeen.

Things were to only get worse the following season and the 1959/60 season can be classed as one of East Fife's worst ever seasons. The Club finished second bottom of the League in 18th place, with only 20 points and 7 wins to show for their efforts. They did get past Brechin City, Forfar Athletic and Queen of the South in the League Cup group stages only to lose 5-2 in a two legged quarter final against Cowdenbeath. Losing to Cowdenbeath in any Cup competition would be disappointing but it wasn't helped by the fact that Cowdenbeath were the only team to actually finish lower than East Fife in the Scottish League that season, with a lowly 14 points! A first round Scottish Cup exit followed with a 2-0 home defeat by Partick Thistle.

It was to be an inauspicious end to what had started off as a promising looking decade in the Club's history.

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1960's

This downturn in fortunes was to come at a cost and the 1960/61 season almost saw the Club go out of business, as finances became very tight.

Surviving off the pitch, the fortunes on it also improved slightly with a 13th place league finish, a first round group exit in the League Cup and a second round Scottish Cup exit at the hands of Partick Thistle, having beaten Keith in the first round.

A further climb up the table to 10th followed the next season and a decent showing in the Cups. The Fife won their League Cup group and supplementary round matches before bowing out to Rangers in the quarter finals. It was the third round of the Scottish Cup that was their downfall this time around. Having disposed of Gala Fairydean and Albion Rovers, Stenhousemuir ended hopes with a 4-1 victory at Annfield.

The 1961/62 season did feature a return of silverware to the Bayview trophy room though, with a 3-1 defeat of Stirling Albion at Bayview bringing the Club their fourth Penman Cup triumph, in a match that had to be held over until the start of the following season.

That 1962/63 season saw a stall in the continued climb up the table, as the Club dropped a place to finish 11th. A first round League Cup group exit was followed by a second round Scottish Cup second replay exit to Third Lanark, having taught Edinburgh University a first round lesson.

Towards the end of the season, an East Fife legend was to return to the Club, as Jimmy Bonthrone took over as manager.

His impact was immediate and the Club finished the 1963/64 season in 4th place and won their League Cup group section. A two-legged quarter final defeat by Rangers followed and a Scottish Cup first round bye was followed by a 1-0 second round defeat at home to East Stirling.

1964/65 saw a slip to 9th in the League. Winning their League Cup group once again, Celtic won the quarter final 6-2, with the Fife having won a historic first leg match 2-0 at Bayview. The Club were taken to replays in the first two rounds of the Scottish Cup, beating Aberdeen in the first but going out to Kilmarnock in the second.

The next season saw the shape of what was to come for the next few seasons, as the Club missed out on promotion by 6 points and finished 4th in the League. A first round group exit in the League Cup was matched by a first round Scottish Cup exit to Dundee by a scoreline of 9-1! The Club had "earned" the right for that mauling by beating Elgin City 1-0 in a preliminary round.

A temporary drop down to 5th in the League, a first round League Cup group exit and a second round Scottish Cup exit to Clyde were all that was to show for the 1966/67 campaign, although defeating Division 1 side Motherwell 1-0 in the Scottish Cup first round would have made shock headlines if it hadn't have been for Berwick beating Rangers on the same day!

An agonising four points was all that was to keep third place East Fife from promotion in the 1967/68 season. It was getting closer to getting back to the top league. Winning their League Cup group section, Dundee were to be the nemesis once again, with a 5-0 aggregate quarter final win, and Morton put the Fife out of the Scottish Cup after a second round replay defeat followed a first round home win against Alloa.

The agony continued the next season as well, with another third place finish, five points being the margin this time between East Fife and promotion. Another excellent League Cup group win saw a quarter final meeting with Hibernian this time, with the Edinburgh side running out comfortable 6-2 aggregate winners. Stranraer ended Scottish Cup hopes in the first round.

A disappointed Jimmy Bonthrone felt he had taken the Club as far as he could and left to become the number two at Aberdeen, with Bill Baxter, brother of director Jim, taking over as the new manager.

It wasn't to have the result hoped for and 1969/70 saw a slip to 10th in the League and a first round League Cup exit. Raith Rovers and Morton were disposed off in the first two rounds of the Scottish Cup before Dundee yet again ended Cup hopes with a 1-0 third round win at Bayview.

That brought to an end a decade that wasn't exactly swinging as far as the fortunes of East Fife Football Club were concerned.


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1970's


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1980's


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1990's


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2000's