Away From The Numbers


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East Fife haven't made an over productive foray in the close season transfer market so far, but one of the signings they have made is the welcome return of defender John Ovenstone.

John Ovenstone At East Fife In 2002
The Club announced on June 9th that the 26 year old central defender was returning to Bayview after an absence of just over six years.

John is that rarity of things in recent seasons - a product of the East Fife youth system.

A local lad, born in Kirkcaldy, John joined the Bayview Youth Club under 18 side in 1999 but his talent was evident from an early stage and he actually played for both the under 18s and the East Fife reserve side, in the Reserve League East, throughout the 1999/2000 season.

He made his reserve team debut, aged just 16, in the 2-1 win away to Raith Rovers on August 30th 1999 and his performances for both the reserves and the under 18's saw him sign a professional contract with East Fife in June 2000.

The 2000/2001 season saw John continue in the under 18 side, playing alongside Stevie Ferguson and Paul McManus. He played in all 21 games that season, scoring two goals. Ferguson and McManus got 27 goals between them. Those were the days!

His form for the youths earned him a call up to the first team squad and he took his first place on the bench, as an unused sub, in the 2-1 win against Peterhead at Bayview on February 24th 2001. He finished the season with a couple of first team squad call ups but no appearances.

New East Fife manager Davie Clarke, who knows a good youth prospect when he sees one, threw John into the first team in the pre season friendlies of 2001 and the faith paid off with John playing very comfortably against his older opponents. He also netted his first senior goal in the 5-1 defeat against Livingston, in John Allison's testimonial on July 21st.

He made his competitive first team debut in the league match against Albion Rovers on August 4th 2001, which ended goalless with John turning in a good defensive display.

The season didn't quite prove to be the breakthrough season that John had hoped and he ended the 2001/2002 season with just 9 appearances (8 in the league, including 2 as sub and 1 in the Challenge Cup) and no goals, although he did feature on the bench as an unused sub on numerous occasions.

Undeterred, John broke back into the first team under Jim Moffat the following season and it didn't take long for him to make his mark, netting his first competitive East Fife goals with a brace in the 4-1 home win against East Stirling on August 10th 2002.

John Ovenstone At East Fife In 2002
He scored his third and to date, his last, goal in an East Fife jersey in the legendary 3-2 comback win at Gretna on November 30th 2002, scoring the Fife's first goal that day.

Sadly, again, the 2002/03 season wasn't the breakthrough that both John and the fans had hoped for and he was freed by the Club in February 2003, joining Glenrothes Juniors.

He made 16 appearances for the Fife that season (13 in the league, with 3 of those as sub, 2 sub appearances in the League Cup and one sub appearance in the Challenge Cup) and when he left he had played a total of 25 games for the East Fife first team, netting those 3 goals.

John's performances for the Glens for the rest of the season and the start of the next saw him earn rave reviews and it wasn't long before he was snapped up to return to the senior ranks, joining Alloa in October 2004.

He went on to make 100 competitive appearances for the Recreation Park side in all competitions, scoring 8 goals, before being signed by Forfar at the end of the 2006/07 season.

He only played one season for the Station Park club, making 39 appearances, scoring 4 goals and playing under Jim Moffat once again, as Forfar finished bottom of the whole Scottish League in 2007/08.

New Forfar boss Dick Campbell had a clearout of personnel and John was freed, only to be quickly snapped up by Stenhousemuir.

The 2008/09 campaign was a happier one for John as he saw his Stenny side clinch promotion to the Second Division via the playoffs. John made 35 appearances for the Warriors during the campaign and bagged 3 league goals.

And now John is back where it all started, at Bayview, much to the enthusiasm of the Fife faithful as he always impressed when lining up against us in recent seasons.

He's certainly matured into a big, strong and versatile defender since we last saw him in an East Fife jersey and should form a tough defensive partnership with Jonathan Smart. Both him and Smarty are also going to be dangerous at set pieces and a real handful for opposing defences. By all accounts he is also now a long throw expert. All excellent news!

I, like many, was disappointed when John was let go the first time around as I thought he was an excellent player with a lot of potential. It's great to see him back where he belongs and here's to a lot of happy seasons and goals from the big man.

Welcome home John.