After yesterday’s love letter of sorts to East Fife, today was the real business. A win for East Fife in Cumbernauld would guarantee the League 2 title, promotion back to League 1 and general unencumbered happiness in the Methil ranks.
This was my second trip to Cumbernauld, the first being a frustrating 1-0 play-off semi final first leg defeat in 2014. Today would bring no more goals for East Fife, but a whole lot more pleasure.
The 90 minutes were filled with tension and the odd excitable outburst from my good self. While East Fife had arguably the better chances in the game, with Kevin Smith getting the ball caught under his feet as East Fife broke midway through the first half, Clyde perhaps circulated the ball better than the Methil men. Clyde’s five yellow cards also (rightly) suggested that they were the less well-disciplined of the two sides. The home side’s two enormous centre-halves (who were both yellow card recipients) were able to stifle Nathan Austin’s aerial threat in particular – the wonderfully gangly striker only really able to bring his skills to the fore when the ball went into his feet.
To Gary Naysmith’s credit, with 15 minutes to go and the scores still level at 0-0, he threw on Jamie Insall to give Austin some support and to seek a winning goal. As the Fife fans furiously checked Livescore on their phones (other football apps are available), and other results fell beautifully in East Fife’s favour, there were some slightly premature chants of “Champione” going up from the sizeable away support. Both sides still sought the winner, but about 30 seconds before Colin Steven blew for full time, suddenly all 554 of the East Fife fans in Cumbernauld knew the draw would be enough.
When the final whistle arrived, the relief and joy were glorious – I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a 0-0 draw more. East Fife’s exemplary finish to the season had brought another moment to add to those I listed in yesterday’s post. As my wife said on the way back to the car, Cumbernauld would, strangely, be another of those places that would hold meaning for me for the rest of my football-supporting life.
As an aside, there has to be an honourable mention for Podge. An East Fife fan who I’ve never not seen at a game I’ve been to (and who my grandad always asks after), he was for some reason singled out by one of the overly-enthusiastic Clyde stewards when there was a small and well-mannered pitch invasion on the final whistle. The steward did his best to lie on Podge, but Podge escaped, drew the applause of the crowd, then fell on his arse – to be fair to him, he wasn’t the first person to slip on Clyde’s artificial surface. Quite frankly, it was a hilarious way to finish an outstanding afternoon in North Lanarkshire.
Clyde 0-0 East Fife; East Fife win League SPFL League 2