Fife is the third biggest council area in Scotland by population. Yet, when it comes to football, there hasn’t been a top tier team in the Kingdom since 2011-12. With four football clubs at their disposal, why is this the case?
The Pars were Fife’s last representation in the top flight but were relegated in 2012. It’s been a turbulent few years for Dunfermline after they went into administration in 2013. They faced a points deduction and were relegated to the third tier for the first time since 1986. The Pars were runners up to unbeaten winners Rangers in the third tier before sealing promotion in 2014.
Having lost out to Dundee United in the promotion playoffs last season, the top tier looks beyond them this season. Two-time Scottish Cup winners, an impressive European history and large fan base, maybe it’s only a few years before we see them grace the top tier once more.
Raith Rovers (League One)
After defeat in the Championship playoff semi-finals in 2017, Raith Rovers currently compete in League One. Rovers haven’t been in the top tier since 1997 after winning the First Division in 1994-95, the season in which they also won the League Cup for the first and only time in their history, beating Celtic on penalties at Ibrox after a 2-2 draw.
One of the scorers that day was current Dunfermline manager Stevie Crawford. Pars and Rovers are Fife’s two most successful clubs in recent times and there’s every chance both will compete in the second tier next season. Whether they can push for promotion remains to be seen.
East Fife (League One)
Semi-professional East Fife are the only one of four clubs bearing ‘Fife’ in their name. They were the first club to win the Scottish League Cup three times and also won the Scottish Cup in 1938. In doing so, they became the first of two second-tier teams to win the Scottish Cup.
The other was Hibernian after victory in their all Championship final against Rangers in 2016. East Fife have only been in the top tier once, not since 1930-31. Statistically, they are Fife’s most successful team when it comes to major honours. Here’s hoping they can climb the leagues sooner rather than later.
Cowdenbeath (League Two)
Cowden haven’t competed in the top tier since 1970-71. They are without any major honours but have won the old First Division three times. Another to have gone through a turbulent few years, The Blue Brazil were the victim of successive relegations.
They played in the Championship a few years ago, competing with the likes of Rangers, Hearts and Hibs. Fast forward a few years and they maintained their SPFL status by beating both East Kilbride and Cove Rangers in successive playoff finals to ensure they remain a league side in the fourth tier.
So there’s the four candidates. The Kingdom is a big place in a small country, the fact that it doesn’t have a top tier football representative should be a real frustration.
A few can hopefully be kicking about the second tier in a few years, Dunfermline are already there. If they can maintain their status, be joined by a few others then you just never know when Fife will be amongst Scotland’s footballing elite again.