It’s party time

Nathan Austin is glad he spoke out about racist abuse. Picture: SNS
Nathan Austin is glad he spoke out about racist abuse. Picture: SNS

The game certainly won’t live long in the memory, but the post-match celebrations will.

East Fife’s drab 1-1 draw with Shire was bookended by joy as before the game the club announced that Gary Naysmith had agreed a deal to extend his time at Bayview.

It was the news supporters had been longing for since the League Two title was wrapped up at Clyde.

Naysmith is no doubt one of the brightest managerial hopes in the country, so to have him tied down for the next two seasons is a fine piece of business.

The manager is ambitious, both for himself and for the club, and has already set his sights on leading the Methil men into the Championship.

Next season the plan is to make sure their League One status is preserved, the manager said after the match, with the term after that targeted as being one to muscle in on the promotion race.

But the weekend was all about celebrating what has been a fantastic 2015/16 season.

A crowd of 1360 headed along to Bayview to watch the club crowned champions and pay tribute to the season’s heroes.

Substitutions are usually tactical, but the three replacements made by Naysmith on Saturday afternoon were a touch of class.

On-loan strikers Jamie Insall and Nathan Austin, playing their final games for the Fifers, were brought off to huge applause while Stevie Campbell, the club’s longest serving player, set to leave for Dubai, was given a standing ovation.

The timing of Austin’s substitution, allowing him five minutes to play up front with his brother Jordan, was another moment of quality by the club.

The game itself was a bit of a damp squib.

Visiting ‘keeper Richard Barnard was in no mood to allow the Fifers to start their celebrations early, keeping them at bay with a string of fine stops.

Austin and Insall had two good first half chances denied by the number 1.

But an opening goal was to arrive, and it did so in spectacular fashion.

The Fifers conceded a free-kick on the edge of their own box, and were punished by Michael McMullen who sent his effort past Liam Kelly.

But the visitors, who made six changes to their starting XI as they prepare for a relegation play-off with Edinburgh City, were barely ahead for a couple of minutes, Kevin Smith replying.

The rest of the match played out with little incident, and as the trophy was presented, the fireworks went off and the confetti was sprayed - it was party time.