THE tiny Fife village of Steelend played host to Kirkcaldy YM’s first ever promotion party on Monday night.
YM’s 5-2 victory over Steelend Victoria in their final game of the junior football season secured a top two finish in the East Central League, and with it, promotion to the East Premier League.
They may even go up as champions if Rosyth can do them a favour tomorrow (Friday) night by beating the other promoted side, Kinnoull, however, YM manager Colin Downie is simply delighted to be in the top two.
“I’m delighted for the club and the people that have been here for years - but all the credit goes to the players,” he said.
“We’ve had a lot of injuries this year but the squad has been fantastic. I couldn’t have asked for any better.
“They’ve shown a winning mentality, even when things were going against them.
“They’ve put in a lot of effort and got the reward for all their hard work. I’m very proud of them.
“I’m more than happy with promotion, but if we could win the league as well that would be the icing on the cake.”
Kirkcaldy YM, who play at Denfield Park, were formed in 1970 but the club has never won a promotion until now.
Ironically, they did manage to win the Fife Junior Association second division championship in 1979-80, but it was during a season where promotion had been scrapped.
Downie added: “The chairman and committee have been with the club a long time and not had much success - if any - over the years.
“Clubs need these people behind the scenes to survive and this promotion is a wee reward for them.
“I played with the chairman, Ramsay Budd, at Glenrothes many years ago, and it’s good to see him achieve promotion.”
YM needed to win their last game away to Steelend to pip local rivals Dundonald Bluebell to promotion, which they did thanks to a Jamie Gilfillan hat-trick, as well as goals from Gregg Meikle and Sean O’Neil, in a comfortable 5-2 win.
“Once the game started I knew we were going to win,” Downie said. “It was obvious the players were up for it.”
Downie joined Kirkcaldy in the summer after being sacked by Dundonald, who have missed out on promotion by a single point.
“That makes it even more satisfying,” Downie explained. “There’s a few ex-Dundonald players in the team as well so it will be extra special for them.”
Promotion is YM’s reward for investing heavily in new signings last summer.
“I knew the quality we had in the squad,” Downie said. “I’ve never felt under pressure to deliver promotion - I just had a desire to succeed.
“When good players don’t perform to their ability and fall short because of attitude - that’s what worries managers.
“But the players here have risen to the challenge.”
Downie is now looking forward to leading the side into next season’s Premier League.
“We’ll be there on merit,” he said. “We’ve got a young squad, the oldest player in the team on Monday night was 28, so the future looks good.
“I’m sure we’ll do well in the Premier League, but we’ve got to improve.
“We’ll be playing against better teams and on better surfaces - and that suits our game.
“We met Ballingry in a cup tie this year and did very well. We’ll be going up with nothing to fear.”