East Fife cup tie farce isn’t funny anymore

Stripped and ready to go - the East Fife players thank the large travelling support after the late call-off. Pic by Kenny Mackay.
Stripped and ready to go - the East Fife players thank the large travelling support after the late call-off. Pic by Kenny Mackay.

East Fife’s Irn-Bru Cup quarter final tie with Bohemians has become the joke which just isn’t funny anymore.

Attempts to get the game played took another farcical twist on Saturday when, with players stripped, fans arriving at the ground and teams selected, the game was called off due to a frozen park.

By all accounts the decision was the correct one for player safety, with at least half of the Dalymount Park surface rock hard.

The East Fife squad were able to see the funny side in the minutes after, mingling with the travelling support, reckoned to be nearly 400, and enjoying a drink of Ireland’s favourite ‘Black Stuff’ with them.

But this really is no laughing matter.

As we all know, the tie should have been played months ago, but had to be postponed due to the League of Ireland finishing their season before the game was scheduled.

At that time the East Fife Mail asked tournament organisers, the SPFL, quite specifically, what contingency plan had been put in place for the eventually of Bohemians reaching the quarter finals.

The silence we received in return was deafening, and it quickly became apparent why.

There was, quite simply, nothing prepared.

To their credit Bohemians and the LoI looked at extending their season but, logistically, it was a non-starter.

So while all the other cup ties were played, the draw, pairing the winner away to Ross County on February 15, took place, Bohemians and the Fifers were given a date of February 2 - merely weeks into the Irish club’s pre-season to try and rush the game through.

A game in February, not the most balmy of months, was always likely to attach a risk of postponement, and that’s how it turned out.

All Friday evening and Saturday morning supporters posted pictures to social media of them enjoying the atmosphere in Dublin in the lead up to kick off.

Opportunities for supporters of clubs like East Fife to see their side ‘abroad’ don’t come along often, and they loved every second.

Despite them making the most of a bad situation, they should not have been put in that position, and the with the financial costs that come with it, in the first place due to bad organisation.

It all comes down to this - should Bohemians, given their league fixture structure, have been granted entry into the Scottish lower league trophy in the first place?

Surely the embarrassing events of the past few days answer that question pretty resoundingly.