Another Saturday, another East Fife game I’d been really looking forward to. This time it was “getting the trophy day”, but before that, 90 minutes of something approaching football.The match itself was, predictably, about as flat as a flat thing. One point it was good to get clarification on was in the third minute, where referee David Munro confirmed that attempting to brawl with someone you’ve just fouled is in fact only worth a yellow card. Shire’s John Fraser was the incomprehensibly lucky recipient of the yellow, and set the tone for his team-mates’ slightly petulant display. Mr Fraser didn’t see a great deal more of the game, coming off 8 minutes before half time. A fairly insipid first 45 minutes ended scoreless, with the season-high 1,360 crowd at Bayiew a little underwhelmed. I was perversely quite pleased when, only 6 minutes into the second half, Shire took the lead with Michael McMullin firing a lovely left-footed free kick past Liam Kelly in the Fife goal. Shire’s opener provided the proverbial rocket for the home side, and captain Kevin Smith bundled in an equaliser two minutes later.
While East Fife did their best to find a winner, the main highlights of the second half were the opportunities to give three important players in the black and gold a decent send-off. Firstly, club stalwart and occasional free-kick scorer Stevie Campbell was given an excellent ovation before his switch to the UAE’s top tier, as he was replaced by Declan O’Kane. Jamie Insall, who had provided some vital goals since arriving on loan from Hibernian in November, was next to receive the crowd’s appreciation, being replaced by Jordan Austin.
Finally, Nathan Austin came off, to cap off an outstanding season and to return to Falkirk, who had signed the striker in January and loaned him back to Methil. The local boy (though originally from Hertfordshire) done good might even have a crack at the Premiership next season should his new side see their way through the Championship play-0ffs. His replacement, Paul McManus, ensured his own little bit of history in receiving his second league winners’ medal, having been part of the Fife’s 3rd Division title winning side in 2008.Full time arrived, and the anti-climactic game against the league’s bottom team was soon forgotten. After some set-up and a colourful array of pyrotechnics, the trophy was in Kevin Smith’s mitts. And then, the fans were given the club’s permission to invade the pitch – not something that happens at most football games. How Gary Naysmith fills his squad over the summer, particularly filling the rather large hole left by the departure of Nathan Austin, will keep every East Fife fan interested prior to restarting life in League 1 – in the meantime, however, soaking up a rather unexpected title win in the late April sunshine did the business quite nicely. East Fife 1-1 East Stirlingshire (Smith; McMullin)