This week saw us visit the Kingdom of Fife again and to New Bayview Stadium to take in East Fife at home to Brechin City. The forecasters had predicted snow but there was no sign of it and had a pretty decent day which made for a pleasant journey and arrived in good time after an hour and a half’s drive.
The chat in the car flagged up a few questions, why is the stadium called New Bayview? What happened to the old ground? Did Steve Archibald not play and coach East Fife? The answer, established once we had returned home, is the club moved to the current location in 1998 and “Archie” played and coached the club between 1994 and 1996.
We found the ground with considerable ease and again got ideal street parking literally fifty yards from the main stand. We bought the match programme then took a couple of photo’s and had a walk round what we could of the stadium perimeter. I had read that it was situated right next to the sea and it is a very scenic setting. We went through the turnstiles, watched both sides finishing the warm up and found ourselves some pretty reasonable seats high up in the stand with the home fans with a decent view of both goal ends.
Both sides had players on their books who were recognisable for playing in the SPL, First Division and from seeing the names on the vidiprinter when watching ‘Soccer Saturday’. Names including Collin Samuel, Paul McManus and Liam Gormley for the Fifers and for Brechin, Andy Jackson, Garry Brady, Alan Trouten and veteran goalkeeper Craig Nelson who was on the bench.
When the game got under way it was the visitors who started the brighter and created a couple of early openings before taking the lead in only the sixth minute. A cross come shot from McKenna came back off the back post and fell to Trouten who volleyed in the opener. This might have sparked the hosts into life but it didn’t make any difference as they continually gave the ball away cheaply and their passing was poor.
Brechin had a couple of half chances through some of their posesssion and pressure but young goalkeeper, Callum Antell dealt with anything that came his way. Almost against the run of play East Fife equalised just before the half hour mark when a corner on the far side from Darren Smith was met by the almost unchallenged Collin Samuel and he headed home from close range. The Brechin reaction to losing this goal was swift and it was a double blow for East Fife as they went behind yet again and lost star striker, Samuel to injury.
The home defence were all over the place as Brechin’s Derek Carcary was allowed to get a shot off inside the 18 yard box which seemed to go under the goalkeeper, who may have done better with the shot. At this stage you were left wondering if Brechin would go on to extend their lead but, once again East Fife drew level and with a goal you’d expect to see in the top leagues in Europe. A ball was played forward to the isolated Bobby Barr out on the left, and with limited options available he held the ball up keeping the defender guessing before curling his shot from about 25 yards into the top right hand corner. We joined in with the locals and applauded a simply stunning strike. In fact I think we may have commented about it with a couple of complimentary expletives!
The second half saw the roles reversed as East Fife came out far better organised and the more determined side as they took the game to their opponents. I’m sure Manager Billy Brown would have had a few things to say to his players at the break! Not long after the second half got under way I happened to glance to my left and saw my two boys with different expressions on their face. The oldest one was wide eyed and the youngest looked terrified, why? The youngest had dropped his large cup hot chocolate down the full length of my arm! It’s funny talking about it now but I tore strips off him at the time and am grateful that nobody knows us! I can only hope people are more likely to remember the boy kicking lumps out the seat in front of him when Brechin scored their second goal rather than my quick burst of bad language!
Back on the pitch the home side were the more adventurous and had the better of the chances created but couldn’t take the lead as Brechin seemed content for the score to remain as it was. Just as the game looked like it would end in a draw the visitors carved out the best chance of the half in the last few minutes when the ball was played through to striker Andy Jackson who found himself one on one with the keeper. His initial control was perfect having done everything right however with the goal pretty much at his mercy he slipped the ball past the post for what was a shocking finish. There wasn’t much injury time played and both teams had to settle for a point each.
From all the games I’ve seen in the SFL this season there has been some erratic refereeing decisions and have refrained from commenting however I feel compelled to highlight the referee and stand side linesman’s performance in this match. There was hesitancy and inconsistency in decision making throughout and East Fife were flagged wrongly for offside twice in the second half when nearly through on goal from an official who looked as if he should have been studying for his pre-lim exams!
This was a really good day out and enjoyed visiting the ground and the actual game itself. The set up is very similar to Dumbarton’s ground with a main stand the length of the pitch and the other three sides lying empty. On a couple of occasions the ball went over the fence and the game was held up until a replacement was found. Having done a bit of research after the game I never knew there was a huge power station facing the main stand and was demolished as recently as 2011.
The club have decent, modern, clean facilities, a good value programme, and very fair admission and catering prices which they should be commended for. The pre match and half time music play list needs to be revised though as in the 21st century ‘The Gay Gordon’s’ won’t entice young fans through the gate! It reminded me of the 1980’s ‘Naked Video’ comedy sketch when Gregor Fisher played the Highland newsreader on ‘OHBC News’ but each to their own! All kidding aside this was one of my best grounds visited to date.