Season of hope ends in despair for Fifers

Former East Fife midfielder Darren Smith puts a halt to Kevin Smith's run
Former East Fife midfielder Darren Smith puts a halt to Kevin Smith's run

This wasn’t the way things were supposed to end at all.

Barely 12 months ago, East Fife were caught up in a wave of optimism and positivity that the club hadn’t witnessed for years.

The air of doom and gloom that previous managers have spoken about which lingers around the Methil club was lifted as talk of full-time football and the arrival of star players filled the air.

There was excitement around the club as names such as Nacho Novo were seemingly courted.

The East Fife fans didn’t deserve to have their hopes lifted in that way.

Fast forward a few months and a miserable season has ended with East Fife once again in the bottom tier of Scottish football.

That’s the reality for the Methil side who were officially relegated following Sunday’s 2-0 defeat to Stirling Albion.

East Fife have regularly flirted with relegation since their arrival in what was the old Second Division, but at the weekend it was their time to drop.

Nobody could grudge Stirling their win, which ultimately led to their promotion to League One.

East Fife manager Gary Naysmith said after the game that too many of his players lost their individual battles and it’s difficult to disagree.

Despite this, the pain of relegation was still etched on the faces of East Fife’s players as the shellshocked side left the park on Sunday.

Skipper Craig Johnstone, despite the obvious heartbreak he was experiencing, had the grace to speak with the Press after the game.

He spoke of the side being its own worst enemy at times this season, too many “poor decisions” leading to the giving away of goals.

In truth, East Fife have become notorious in recent seasons for their generosity to opposition forwards, with consecutive managers bemoaning the sloppy goals the side has given away.

Eventually they were going to be punished in the ultimate way for it.

Twice Stirling forwards managed to get in behind the East Fife defence and twice they were made to pay.

Firstly Jordan White was allowed to burst in on goal and he sent a shot high into Dylan Rooney’s goal.

The second goal was similar with Sandy Cunningham this time the scorer, beating Rooney from close range.

East Fife had chances of their own but they were few and far between.

The full-time whistle saw the Fifers leave the park to think about how a season of hope could have all gone so horribly wrong.