Friday, May 06, 2011

Dunfermline: Pars Party Up

Outwardly benign, really rather malevolent.

Inviting your enemies round for a house party is a nice gesture. Until they realise that most of the guests have only turned up to celebrate your achievements.

Cruel that.

Spare a thought for Falkirk’s fans. Off the pace in the First Division title race, financially suspect, offloading players here, there and everywhere and stuck with a divisive manager for another season.

The last thing they’ll want is to be part of Dunfermline’s title shindig.

But that’s exactly what they will be on Saturday. I suspect the faithful at East End Park won’t let them forget it. Not for a second of those ninety minutes.

It’s been an exciting First Division title race. A battle forged and fought in Fife but, for some, overshadowed by the ghost of Dundee’s aspirations.

That’s unfair. Dundee erred and were punished. A harsh punishment? Perhaps. But others have faced more stringent penalties.

It's said that without the punishment Dundee would have won the league. Would they? It surprises me some people can say that with such confidence. Prohibitive favourites, ahead and seemingly cruising they found a way to blow it last season. The truth is we don’t know.

People also tell me that it is the fans who suffer when such punishments are handed out. True that. And the Scottish Football League should be more consistent in dealing with such incidents. But the fans really suffer when cowboys, idiots, crooks and egotists turn up and ruin their football club, not because someone then has to hold those villains and ne’er-do-wells to account.

Dunfermline, and I’m sure they don’t anyway, need feel no guilt at Dundee’s expense.

As East End Park rocks, there will be thoughts of what might have been in Kirkcaldy.

In many ways Raith were the success of Scottish football this season. Their rise was surprising and sustained, in John McGlynn they delivered the manager of the year and they offered a new, enthralling plot to our stale footballing narrative.

Was I alone in relishing the look on the faces of some of our self styled SPL aristocrats when “little” Raith took their seat at the top table?

But it wasn’t to be.

Dunfermline saw them off and deserve their return.

Let’s hope those fans who snaffled tickets for their last derby showdown with Raith retain their enthusiasm and turn out in numbers for their SPL games. Certainly Dunfermline’s average gate over the last two seasons in the First Divsion will compare favourably with Hamilton’s in the top flight.

Manager Jim McIntyre has suggested he already has the nucleus of an SPL team. He might well look at the bottom six and think that, with a few additions, he doesn’t have too much to fear. I’ve already heard rumours linking him with a move for Hibs’ Ian Murray. There will be other competent SPL performers available should he feel he needs a touch more experience.

It’s not been a season without setbacks and stumbles. Considered among the favourites, and always one of the bigger teams in the league, Dunfermline did a fair bit of huffing and puffing along the way.

But they kept enough form throughout the season to lay the building blocks when the momentum did come. And well timed it was.

The last eleven games negotiated without defeat, including wins over Falkirk and Raith and a draw against Dundee when Barry Smith’s men looked determined to at least still have a say in the title race.

Impressive stuff. Championship winning, promotion garnering stuff.

A lot of the hard work will only start now. But, just before it does, there’s time for a bit of a party.

Try and remember to be nice to the Bairns.