Saturday 4 February 2017, Fife Fiasco
I’ve witnessed many teams from Fife play in the East Juniors over the years, but had never been to one of the grounds in Fife at that level, so we had decided to rectify that. With a hotel booked in Dunfermline for the Saturday night, we had a number of options which we narrowed down to:
Hill of Beath Hawthorn v Linlithgow Rose
Crossgates Primrose v Edinburgh United
Kirkcaldy YM v Craigroyston
Lochgelly Albert v Livingston United
Rosyth v Dunbar United
While there were a few other options, these were the ones we settled on. Hill of Beath had originally been scheduled to play Bonnyrigg Rose, but their Junior Cup replay meant that the other Rose would be the visitors.
While frost is often the problem at this time of year in Scotland, it was the rain which was causing concern this time. Scotland is notoriously cold in the early months of the year and visitors shouldn’t be fooled by forecasted temperatures, as it’s the wind chill that gets you. It wasn’t that long ago that the “ice bucket challenge” swept the world, or as it was known in Scotland “going outside”.
The recent wet weather had me worrying about whether or not the games would survive, but a Saturday morning check only ruled out Lochgelly Albert, which had succumbed to a waterlogged pitch.
The field was further narrowed when we found out that Rosyth would be playing their game on the astroturf at Kelty Hearts’ New Central Park. We were likely to visit Kelty for one of their own home games, so decided to also rule that one out. The inclement weather also ruled out Crossgates, as their Humbug Park didn’t seem to have any cover against the elements.
The journey across the Forth Rail Bridge saw the weather deteriorate to the extent that when we got off in Dunfermline, it was torrential rain. Another check of social media showed there was nothing more to be concerned about. An overly long wait for a taxi to the hotel followed and once we had checked in, it was already 1.40. All the games kicked off at 2.
We had decided by now that Hill of Beath would be our destination and were just about to headup to the taxi rank to do the 4 or 5 mile journey when I checked Twitter again. Game off. Twenty minutes before kick-off. The weather had been bad, but this seemed very late.
With Crossgates the only option left in the time available, a rethink was required. Crossgates was very close to Hill of Beath. That was off. Crossgates had no cover.
We decided on a change of plan. Cowdenbeath were at home to Elgin City in a Scottish League Two fixture. Plenty of cover, a short train journey from Dunfermline and, more importantly, a three o’clock kick off.
We got a taxi back down to the station and went to buy our train tickets. The next train to Cowdenbeath had been cancelled due to a stray dog on the line. The following one would have seen us not getting to the ground until about 3.15. We paused. Was someone or something trying to tell us something?
The plan had been to get to a Fife Junior ground. Central Park Cowdenbeath was not that. We had been there several times before. We’d miss the start. We decided not to bother.
Back up into the centre I cut a forlorn figure. No football game on a Saturday! Sacrilege. We headed for a coffee shop and sat down with some food. I had a look on my phone. Sky Sports said the Cowdenbeath game was off. I checked the Twitter feeds of Cowdenbeath and Elgin City. Nothing. Then, at 14.42, Cowdenbeath tweeted that the game was off.
I accept that many have stories of games they were going to being called off late. I do too. But never when I have such a comprehensive list of games that I could have gone to. I feel in particular for any fans of Elgin City who would have made the long journey down to Fife only to hear of the very late call off.
Crossgates’ game was completed. As was nearby Oakley United’s which I hadn’t even spotted beforehand.
Needless to say, the vast majority of games I might have gone to nearer home escaped the weather. Even Whitehill Welfare survived!
Never mind, not long until the Scottish summer. And what a day that will be.
PS for those who are wondering (ok, perhaps not) we still had a decent night out in Dunfermline – the pubs tend to be located quite close to each other and it’s much cheaper than a night out in the big smoke Edinburgh. And it’s a friendly crowd (although to be fair we have only been out there twice in the recent past, so maybe we’ve just been lucky!) However, I wasn’t desperate enough for any kind of football fix on Saturday to hang around Lourenzo’s to await the guest appearance of Calum Best. However good his dad was.