SAT 15TH MAY 2004: A v STENHOUSEMUIR (SCOTTISH 2ND DIVISION)
D day. Second Division survival or back to Third Division mediocrity. It was huge.
The Fife faithful were expectant. Hopeful. Confident. Always a bad sign.
With the knowledge that it was never going to be 100% in our own hands, a tense afternoon was in store. Was it only a year ago that we went through all this to get here in the first place?
The omens weren't good. The fans were optimistic. It was a sunny day. There was a good crowd to cheer the Fife on (the third highest travelling support to go to Ochilview this season apparently). The usual recipe for disaster that all East Fife fans have come to know over the years!
And so it was to happen again.
It's hard to right a report when you're drained after a game and it's an overall result that we will all want to forget, so we'll keep this a lot briefer than usual.
Jim Moffat named an unchanged side to last week and East Fife went for it from the start.
Euan Donaldson was unlucky after 10 minutes, when his curling kick came crashing off the bar, with ex-Fifer keeper and arse shower, Willie McCulloch beaten. Three minutes later and East Fife scored when Greig McDonald's powerful header was stopped just over the line by Willie McCulloch - a fact missed by both referee and assistant. No goal was given and it was still 0-0, just as word was coming through that Berwick had taken the lead against Arbroath.
It was Euan Donaldson, in what sadly looks like being his last game for the Fife, who was causing all the problems for Stenny, playing almost in a strikers role and with 18 minutes gone his run from the halfway line won a corner, when more looked on the cards. Minutes later a shot by Euan was parried by McCulloch but he recovered the ball before Gordon Gilbert could get to it.
Then the fight just seemed to stop and the team settled back into a lacklustre performance for a while.
Stenny came close on 38 minutes when a bullet from outside the box whipped just past Gary O'Connor's post, but it was East Fife that had the last chance of the half when Johnny Mitchell found Greig McDonald on the edge of the box, but his fine shot was saved.
Half time. Still 0-0, but with news from Eng-er-land looking promising. We were hopeful and still expectant. Then our world caved in.
Arbroath equalised and Stenny got back into the game, nearly pouncing on the Fife's inability to clear, before Craig Lumsden and Euan Donaldson helped the ball clear of danger. Another Stenny chance soon followed and then came the news we were dreading. 2-1 Arbroath.
Kenny Deuchar and Jimmy Herkes then came on and immediately added that bit of spark that had seemed missing.
A penalty claim for handball was waved aside on 61 minutes, leaving East Fife to go the whole season without getting a penalty!
Brian Fairbairn came on and had a chance on 70 minutes, but as the clock ticked down and work came through that it was now 3-1 to Arbroath, the atmosphere died and went flat.
A great header by Greig McDonald on 84 minutes secured the win that the Fife needed, but the response was more muted than it could have been, before the fans rallied in the closing minutes, declaring "We're Going To Win The League" and "1-0 To The Champions".
Next season will come round soon enough. We have to learn from our mistakes this season, or rather, Jim Moffat has to. We didn't get relegated today. That was the result of a season long of patchyness. There's a lot of blame and finger pointing that could be apportioned but at the end of the day, the failure to beat Arbroath at Bayview on two occasions this season is ultimately what has cost us.
The players did all we could have asked for them today. They won.
Some said goodbye. And they'll be missed. But we'll all be there next season. I'm counting down already.
C'mon The Fife.
FINAL SCORE: Stenhousemuir 0 - 1 East Fife
EAST FIFE: O'Connor, Lumsden, Hall, Mortimer, Mathie, Blair, McMillan (Herkes 58), G. McDonald, Mitchell (Fairbairn 68), Gilbert (Deuchar 58), Donaldson Subs (not used): Graham and Bain
AFTN MAN OF THE MATCH: Greig McDonald did well, but EUAN DONALDSON takes it with an excellent overall performance.
Long Ball Game. Us?!
The Players Pay Their Respects
And The Fans To Their Tearful Hero As It Looks To Be "Bye Kenny"