Dunfermline Athletic 0v3 Falkirk
Scottish Premier League
May 19th 2007
I’ve been meaning to cross some ticks off my Scottish grounds total,but opportunities have been limited this season,so bearing this in mind I sacrificed sitting in front of the TV watching the country’s two biggest clubs battling it out for the oldest cup competition in the world,with the added attraction of the first historic final at the finest football arena on the planet. (too many red seats for me) I haven’t missed an English cup final either in front of the box or in the flesh since 1973,but I would rather attend a live game and visit a new ground than watch a game where I would happily like to see both teams lose,so it wasn’t a hard decision to head north into the ‘Kingdom of Fife’ for the SPL meeting at Dunfermline’s East End Park against local rivals Falkirk.
The Pars were born in 1875 when members of Dunfermline Cricket Club formed a football club to keep them occupied and retain there fitness during the long winter months,their home during this period was just west of the present ground and it wasn’t until the clubs Board of Directors purchasing new land for £3,500 from the North British Railway in 1920 that the club moved to the present East End Park.
The ground has had an eventful life during the past 87 years,in the 1930’s for example the ground staged greyhound racing and the extra income during the Depression years helped save the club from going bust at a time when things weren’t going well on the park,during the Second World War,East End Park was used by the Army as a base as well as a Polish transport unit,the ground also hosted a boxing match during the war to raise funds to help the Russian war effort.
East End Park first appearance under floodlights was in October 1959 when the Pars played Sheffield United in a friendly,this was on the eve of the clubs most successful period in their history all thanks to the arrival of one man – Jock Stein,his arrival at Dunfermline in 1960 saw the club win their first ever trophy,when they lifted the 1961 Scottish FA Cup,beating Celtic after a replay,this success funded the completion of the Main Stand at a cost of £60,000.
The cup success catapulting the lads from Fife into Europe, amassing 42 European ties between 1961 and 1970, Jock Stein left the Pars in 1964 but he laid the foundations as the club progressed under managers Willie Cunningham and later George Farm, they reaching an additional two Scottish Cup finals,as runners up in 1965 and winners in 1968,the year which witnesses the East Enders biggest attendance when a crowd of 27,816 saw a clash with cup winners against champions Celtic,this successful decade witnessed their highest league position of third place in 1965 and 1969 (I wonder who finished first and second?),they also achieved a semi-final spot in the European Cup-Winners-Cup.
The grounds progression continued through this era with the North Stand roof being extended as well as cover for the West Stand which linked the two stands together,the ground stagnated with only new terracing added in the mid 1980’s until the ground was rebuilt and made all seating in the nineties.
East End Park has been described as a mini-Ibrox (before the corners were filled) the East and West Stand’s were built in the Summer of 1998,both have a capacity of 3000 and are steep single tier stands with sharp edges and Perspex sides,the East Stand is the away end while the West has been named after Pars legend Norrie McCathie.I went in the North Stand which has a smaller single tier of seats,installed in 1997,it has a capacity of 2400,it houses the TV gantry and there’s a brilliant mural at the top of the stand in between the toilets (see Football Bog Blog no.5)the stand is split in two with only the North West side open.
You can see how the Main Stand has been modernised after it’s original construction in 1962,there’s a small corporative area behind the dugouts with ‘Welcome To East End Park’ printed above as well as a crowd control building to the west,the rest of the bottom tier has been filled in with bench type seats in dark red,the same colour as the rest of the stadium.
There are continental type floodlights which were installed in November 1997,making the stadium easy to spot from a distance and until recently the pitch had the artificial XL-Turf after receiving a grant from UEFA.The turf was laid in September 2003,but after becoming unpopular with the fellow members of the SPL the club returned to playing on grass last season,but if you look closely you can see evidence of the old turf running along the touch line
The tunnel is in the corner of the stadium in-between the Main Stand and the McCathie Stand,the first face to appear pre-match is a hairy one,club mascot Sammy the Hammy appeared and took great delight in an attempt to wind up the rival Falkirk fans,he ran towards the away end with a cardboard placard with the words ‘Whey Aye,we’re off to Europe’ there was a party atmosphere amongst the Pars fans,the fact their team were relegated the previous week didn’t seem a setback,they have a cup final next week as well as trips to distant shores to look forward to,therefore a season in Division One isn’t a crisis,as the attitude seems to be a ‘back in one season’ one.The club and supporters have a strong believe they’ll bounce straight back,just like the pre match beach balls that littered the pitch when the teams came on to the pitch,along with rubber rings and water wings as well as the sound of ‘Viva Espania’ the fans feel it’ll be destination Spain or Greece in the UEFA Cup,so let’s hope it’s not Iceland or Latvia.
I was pleased to hear the sound of Dunfermline’s finest when the players emerged from the tunnel,the distinctive sound of Stuart Adamson on guitar with the Skids and the classic ‘Into The Valley’ (I still have my copy on 7’ white vinyl,pic cover) as for the match,it wasn’t a classic,but a disappointment for the home supporters with a shocking performance against their bitter enemies from over the Kincardine Bridge,the team seem to be saving themselves for the cup final next week,so there’ll need a huge improvement or it’ll be an embarrassment against Celtic,the Pars fans made their displeasure know with chants of “You don’t deserve the jersey” as Falkirk won the game at a canter with three second half goals after a scrappy first half.
My companion today was again Alan Price and we enjoyed a cheap day out,thanks to my mate 'Jimmy Jimmy' fixing us up with free return train travel to Edinburgh,the fare to Dunfermline Town was only £4.80 return and the match admission was half price at only £12.00,on top of this Alan gave me a history lesson on the former capital of Scotland.We visited to resting place of Robert The Bruce in Dunfermline Abbey as well as St.Margaret’s Cave,like Alan says,you come to these places,so you may as well see it while you’re here.
I have no doubt that getting up at 6.30am and heading off to Scotland and so missing the FA Cup Final was the right decision, I saw the match highlights (or is it lowlights) on Saturday night and I apparently missed nowt,but I intend to spend next Saturday afternoon in front of the tele with an 8-pack of John Smith’s and a few packets of pork scrachings and watch the cup final,the Scottish Cup Final,Dunfermline v Celtic “Come On Ye Pars”