Euan McGuffie looks back at the SFL playoff results but first, a little sing a long…..all together now…..
(To the tune of Lonnie Donegan’s ‘My old man’s a dustman’)
Kevin Cawley’s magic
He wears the magic hat
And when he saw The Recs
He said ‘I’ll have some of that’
He could’ve signed for Falkirk
Or Rangers but they’re SHITE
But he signed for the mighty Alloa
Cuz we’re FUCKIN DYNAMITE!
This little ditty was added to the repertoire of the youngers on the supporters bus hurtling through the misty Fife countryside on Sunday. And it’s been stuck in my head ever since. A head that’s still throbbing from celebrating Paul Hartley becoming the first Alloa manager to ever win back-to-back promotions. The pain of being relegated to the 3rd Division two seasons ago is now a distant memory and it’s all down to hard work on and off the pitch.
Dunfermline 1-0 Alloa (agg 1-3)
All the signs were good as I arrived at the Star Inn for a swift hoff while waiting for the supporters’ bus; Sam Sparro’s ‘Black & Gold’ on the dukey, geeing-up fellow refreshed Wasps. It’s always a pleasure swapping Glasgow prices for Alloa prices and a swift hoff soon became several double vodkas. And when a load of pink-clad lassies arrived on what was some sort of sponsored piss-up and started downing shots at 2:30 on a Sunday afternoon I almost went all Winston Zeddemore with ’I love this town!’.
I used to love going to Dunfermline when I was a bairn, mainly due to the prospect of seeing the Piranhas in the aquarium at Pittencrieff Park or of visiting the Co-op and their massive collection of Star Wars toys and amazing walk-in displays. Last time I was at East End Park though the East Stand was terracing. It’s still a very nice stadium, with unrestricted views and loads of room between the rows of seats; I hate paying through the nose to be crammed into a plastic bucket. Strangely the car park is situated in the opposite end to the visitors’ stand so that both sets of fans have to walk through each other on the way in. Not that there was any trouble. I parked myself in the centre of row Y with a view that reminded me of playing Sensible Soccer on the Mega Drive. I was right next to one of BBC Alba’s cameras so apologies if anyone heard me urging ref Craig Thomson to fucking open his eyes.
The crowd of over 5,100 were in for another good match. Alloa started with the same concentration and determination we showed in the first leg and we continued with the passing game which has been our trademark since Paul Hartley took charge. It wasn’t quite the canter it had been for The Wasps on Wednesday evening but we created early chances for the always-immense-in-midfield Ryan McCord and top-scorer Kevin Cawley. Kevin was in the mood to find the net but Michael Hrivnak coped well with his attempts on goal.
Alloa could’ve been out of sight by half-time had we taken our chances but there were a few tense moments for the visitors when The Par’s Ross Millen swung over cross after cross. Luckily we had Jason Marr and skipper Ben Gordon who dealt with all incoming and were solid in defence along with full-backs Mikey Doyle and Daryll Meggatt, who broke forward down the flanks at every opportunity. Both full-backs had seemingly endless reserves of energy and a ‘none shall pass’ attitude. It was all level at the break and I think the supporters began to realise fate of both teams.
Jim Leishman was out to address the fans at the interval. Lot of respect for Jim and you can see how much it means to him if you catch the TV coverage. Alloa continued where we left off after the restart, with Cawley producing a good save from Hrivnak who turned his curler round the post. The Pars had to go for it and looked more dangerous upfront after Craig Dargo came on. Dunfermline had a good spell of pressure with a couple of corners and you could feel a goal was coming. And it came in the 72nd minute when another cross from Ross Millen fell to Alan Smith who drilled it low under Scott Bain. The Wasps looked a bit spooked after that and struggled to get a grip on the match again until Stephen Husband decided to imprint his studs on Darren Young’s thigh and Craig Thomson showed him a straight red.
That was it; no way back for The Pars. All Alloa had to do was keep possession and clear our lines and that’s exactly what we did, with a few good stops by Scott Bain along the way. Kevin Cawley and Calum Elliot continued to push and take the pressure off our defence right to the final whistle, which came after 3 minutes of injury time. The Pars were dejected but The Wasps were in dreamland. There’s no better sight than seeing your team celebrate and seeing them applaud you as you applaud them. Out came the 2012/13 1st Division Playoff Winners banner and the champagne.
On the way back to The Recs I won £20.00 on the bus footie card. This day could not get better if Mila Kunis was there to welcome me at the gate, adorned in the black and gold. A pie on a roll in her hand.
Chairman Mike Mulraney addressed the fans and presented Ben Gordon and Scott Bain with their players of the year trophies and I got to shake hands with the players as they enjoyed a few well-earned beers. Alas I couldn’t join them in the hospitality suite (portacabbin) as I had to hitch a ride on the last tractor home. And watch it all again on BBC Alba, shouting at stuff that had already happened. What a fantastic day!
Peterhead 0-1 East Fife (agg0-1)
This is gonna seem like a bit of an honourable mention. Yeah, this is very Alloa-loaded but I am an Alloa fan, what the hell do you want from me? After a scoreless first leg at Bayview, East Fife travelled to Balmoor to face Peterhead for a spot in the 2nd Division. On the back of 11 games without defeat Peterhead flew out the traps, coming close with chances through Rory McAllister and Andy Rodgers. And The Blue Toon were denied a penalty midway through the first half when McAllister was brought down by Bryan Gilfillan, but the ref didn’t see eye to eye with the home support.
Despite the home team’s dominance of the first half, it was East Fife who took the lead through David Muir just after the restart as he bundled Craig Johnstone’s corner over the line. The only other real chance for the Fifers came very late on when Paul Willis suddenly found himself free in the box but he was denied twice by close-range saves from Peterhead’s Graeme Smith. In the end the one goal was enough to retain 2nd Division status for the Methil men and consign Peterhead to another season in the 3rd Division. It’s hard not to feel sorry for Jim McInally’s team after their impressive run in the latter stages of the season and I’d much rather see a team rewarded for their efforts than one escape by the skin of their teeth after being poor for most of the season. Still, Billy Browns men did escape and it’s off to Majorca for him. Just a word of warning for the pool-side waiter; make sure you get his pina-colada just right, you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.
Well, that’s that then. Season’s over. As skipper Ben Gordon said in his post-match interview, most of The Wasps were back in their day-jobs today. Albeit a tad rough. There’s a lot to look forward to next season. And in the near future there’s the CL final on Saturday and the Scottish Cup final on Sunday. Best of luck to Celtic. And some Germans.
Let us know your thoughts on the SFL playoffs and season as a whole in the comment section below or on Twitter @90MinuteCynic.
You can follow Euan on Twitter: @CptPopTrance