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It all started as a joke.

Well, i say joke, it was more of a dare or a challenge if you will. bored one cold december day- gino dooba-mackay and his friend reginald decided to go and watch a random game of football, anywhere in the british isles. it would be like road trip but with pies, cups of coffee and match programmes. whichever club was picked out at random would be chosen, whether in england, scotland, ireland, wales or northern ireland. reginald ran his hand over the creased newspaper.....

'stop,' dooba-mackay cried.

'well, who is it?' he inquired.....

East Fife!!

'East Fife?? Thats bl00dy miles away!!'

'The hand has spoken.'

And with that, the journey began.

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Its funny how little details can change lives. as dooba-mackay and reginald drove up the m90 past dunfermline, on the way to the bayview stadium in methil, nobody could have envisaged how a decision based on a whim would lead to the biggest opportunity of dooba-mackay's young life.

the road trip had been eventful and successful, the type of adventure that is made fun by its randomness. spontenaity often leads to the most enjoyable occasions. dooba-mackay and his friend had not however picked the best game to watch. east fife had been hammered 4-1 by greenock morton on this cold december day. but that was far from the end of the adventure. it was only the beginning.

75 minutes gone and with morton 3-1 up, reginald received a phone call from his sister in glasgow. she had been burgled and her house had been ransacked. being the protective type, and very much a worrier, reginald decided to leave the game and see to his sister, especially given that he hadnt seen her for 2 years since she moved out of their home in essex. they agreed that dooba-mackay would keep the car, reg would take the train to glasgow, and dooba-mackay would pick him up either late that night or the next morning. a big inconvenience, but thats life. family come first.

gino dooba-mackay was not averse to his own company, and wasn't too bothered about this twist of fate. he had been to a completely new stadium miles away from home and could tick it off the list. something of a trainspotter, except with football grounds was dooba-mackay.

the disgruntled fife fans had left early, and having nothing else to do gino went to the club shop to look around and kill some time. it was here that his life would take an unexpected turn. the then chairman g dow, was also in the club shop and was having angry words with what seemed to be a friend or colleague of his. his car had broken down and he needed a lift home.

'i might be able to help you there' dooba-mackay insisted.

dow was delighted and as a gesture offered to buy mackay dinner. they would become friends at this dinner, and something about dooba-mackay stuck in dow's memory when it came to having to hire a new manager after the shock departure of east fife's previous gaffer jim moffat. despite being a 1000-1 long shot, dooba-mackay received a phone call from dow in mid-july 2003, offering him the manager's job at lowly east fife.

dooba-mackay jumped at the chance, despite thinking it a joke at first, but when a limo was sent to pick him up and take him to methil it dawned on him. what would have happened if dow's car hadn't broken down? what if reg's sister had never been mugged? what if they had chosen a completely different team to go and see all those months ago?

like they say, its the little details in life.

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4 grand? what am i supposed to do with that?

Gino Dooba-Mackay wasted no time in raising eyebrows in the scottish leagues.

'My ambition is to take East Fife to the upper echelons of the Scottish Premier League within the next 5 years. And by upper echelons, i mean challenging for trophies.'

With these words, local newspapers and comedians had a new focus. The press room actually burst out laughing upon hearing these words. burst out laughing. But Dooba-Mackay was an ambitious man, something Dow maybe noted in the past.

East Fife had already played 2 pre-season friendlies when Dooba-Mackay joined:

vs Albion Rovers - LOST 2-1 (A)

vs Dundee United - LOST 2-1 (H)

the challenge was there for all to see. Dooba-Mackay (or D-M for short, occassionally) wasted no time in assessing his squad, calling a meeting with the two members of coaching staff and one physio available to him. his decisions came quick and fast and it didn't take long before he transfer-listed a few player, in an attempt to bring in some much needed cash.

His first pre-season game in charge was not the start he wanted.

Montrose 4-1 East Fife

Goals: R Henderson, G Sharp, N Stephen, M Simpson G Love (for East Fife)

Dooba-Mackay's 1st Post match press conference

- 'The result slightly flattered Montrose, 2 wonderful free-kicks at 1-1 make the score look worse than it should to be honest, but i am aware of the task here and i was glad to take my seat as manager of this club. I would like to take this opportunity to declare my interest in the man of the match Mark Simpson, he had an excellent game and i have seen him play before. He needs to be at a higher level and he should know he can take that next step here. i will be looking to make him an east fife player if i can.'

Journalist- 'still on course for your 5-year plan?'

D-M:- 'don't be ridiculous, we've only played one game.'

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The East Fife Local Times - back page:

Dooba-Mackay says the Fife can fly!

New manager Gino Dooba-Mackay is a very confident man, as demonstrated by his 1st press conference. but is he a stupid man, or just overly-confident?

Poll results:

Overly-Confident: 14%

A Stupid Man: 86%

What do you think? Send your answers to Fee-Fife-Fo-Fum and we'll publish the best answers.

other news: transfers-

>>>>>>>>>>> Ross Currie (CB) free transfer

<<<<<<<<<<< Craig Lynes (MC) to Arbroath - £1,000

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Mackay nets first pre-season victory

East Fife 3-1 Stirling

Goals: B Kerr, G Love, K Deuchar S Roycroft (Stirling)

Post-match analysis

Dooba-Mackay: 'A good result, ross currie had an outstanding debut at the back, a real 8/10 performance, but the sponsors gave Craig Martin the MoM award for his goalkeeping. Im pleased with the team as ive installed a new training schedule, new tactics, a new formation and new personnel and the lads still performed to a good standard despite the changes. Our next game will be tough, but Aston Villa at home is a great chance for us to test ourselves. im optimistic, and hope the fans are too.'

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Pre-Season joy for East Fife:

East Fife 2-0 Aston Villa

Goals: G Love 49', K Deuchar 69'

-Second half goals from Love and Deuchar see off Premiership outfit Aston Villa, to the delight of a packed Bayview. Manager Dooba-Mackay's new-look side performed brilliantly to overcome Villa, with 2 wonderfully worked goals clinically finished by the front men.

East Fife were the brighter side in the opening 20 minutes, creating good opportunities thanks to the midfield duo of brians kerr and blair. thomas sorensen had to be at his best in the opening period, palming away a long range effort from brian blair, as well as thwarting striker graeme love when through on goal. Aston Villa were fielding a strong side at the New Bayview, and Darius Vassell- a player who is worth more than the whole opponent's club, missed an absolute sitter screwing the ball wide in front of an empty net after a well worked move involving peter whittingham and de la cruz on the right flank. as the half wore on aston villa started to assert themselves and east fife were maybe lucky to get to half time a 0-0 given the chances created, lee hendrie missing a gilt-edged chance on the stroke of half-time.

the second half was a different story however, and east fife came out the better side. 49 minutes in they took the lead when a wonderfully worked move crafted by blair, gilbert, deuchar and kerr gave the love the chance to sneak in behind liam ridgewell and slot the ball home. 1-0 to the fife. this seemed to add to the confidence of the team and they played some great football, passing the ball around like a far better side than their league status implies. 69 minutes gone and a ross currie cross was headed home by kenny deuchar and their lead was further cemented. 2-0 and too much of a mountain for aston villa to climb. the game was played out in the midfield after that, although kenny deuchar fluffed his lines when through with a chance to make it 3-0 on 87 minutes. 2-0 the final score then, and a solid confidence boosting win for east fife.

Man of the Match: Kenny Deuchar

---------------------------------

other pre-season results:

East Fife 3-0 Clyde (H) J Rae '29, D Walker '36, B Fairbairn '48

Notts County 1-0 East Fife (A) B Richardson '90

------------------------------------

Dooba-Mackay speaks:

'ive been pleased with how pre-season has gone, unfortunately we ended it with a defeat but it was a soft goal to concede from craig martin the keeper's point of view, ive made my feelings known about punching balls away and i hope he learns. he's a good young keeper and is very much in my plans for the Challenge Cup 1st round clash at home to Falkirk as long as he cuts out those errors. other than that it was a solid display against notts county, and the clyde game helped me learn a lot about some players who perhaps havent had much first team action in pre-season, a comfortable win there.

all eyes will be on our 1st game of the season in the cup.'

other news:

East Fife have been made 16-1 rank outsiders to gain promotion from the Scottish 2nd Division. the bookies aren't looking past the joint favourites Morton and Airdrie United, priced at evens a piece. time will tell.

Other Odds:

Airdrie - Evens

Morton - Evens

Arbroath - 5/4

Alloa - 5/4

Stenhousemuir - 6/4

Forfar - 6/4

¦

¦

V

East Fife - 16/1

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East Fife crash out of the Challenge Cup

Gino Dooba-Mackay's first official game in charge ended in a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Falkirk today, much to the disappointment of all but the away fans at the final whistle. Mackay named a starting 11 of:

GK: C Martin

DR: M Hall

DC: R Currie

DC: G McCheyne

DL: R Donaldson ©

MR: W Stewart

MC: B Blair

MC: B Kerr

ML: C McMillan

FC: G Love

FC: K Deuchar

(Subs:- G O'Connor, C Miller, P Kelly, J Rae, D Walker)

Falkirk's line-up included Russell Latapy and new signing James Panayi amongst others.

-----------------------------------

East Fife 2-3 Falkirk

Scorers:W Stewart '26, D Walker '87

Latapy '34, McSween '68,'80 (Falkirk)

Sent off: B Blair '55

Match Report:

-Disappointment was in the air at the final whistle of today's game as 10 man East Fife crashed out of the Challenge cup at the 1st hurdle. it had all started so well for the fifers as willie stewart had scored a header on his debut from a brian blair corner midway through the 1st half, but within 10 minutes russell latapy had equalised for falkirk, firing home a low shot past craig martin, who won't want to watch the replay as he should have comfortably saved it. brian blair had been booked within 8 minutes for a foul on latapy, and the 20 year old's youthful petulance got the better of him at the start of the second half, with disastrous consequences for east fife. backchatting to the ref after a foul by graeme love, blair got himself sent off, and a look of steel from manager dooba-mackay as he left for the showers. the game completely turned around after this, and the scottish 1st division side assumed control.

woeful defending cost the fifers a second goal in the 68th minute, macsween sneaking in to net his 1st ever goal for falkirk after latapy was allowed to get a cross in that was missed by 2 defenders. woeful play. a 3rd goal soon put the game out of sight for east fife when macsween bagged a brace, tapping in a well worked move at the second attempt. the fifers did manage to pull one back late in the game when dooba-mackay chose to go gung-ho. dean walker got on the end of brian kerr's cross to head home a consolation for the home side. falkirk will find out their next opponents when the draw takes place tommorrow.

Attendance: 1,523

----------------------------------------

Fan's view:

Gregg from Methil:- 'the manager has to have time to implement his style, but i think we need new defenders. obviously that will be hard as we have no money, but im confident for the season ahead. what a t!t that blair is though. he cost us the game if you ask me'

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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Tyrone the Mag:

Welcome, nice start icon_smile.gif <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

thanks, i hope you and any others reading it are enjoying it so far. feel free to post your opinions, predictions or general comments if you want- it'll let me know that people are actually reading this! icon_smile.gif

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Daily Herald Sport Section (Shorts):-

East Fife complete double swoop

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Colin Hendry (DC) Free

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Bobby Duncan (D/DML) Free

-Gino Dooba-Mackay made moves to bolster his defence today, with the double capture of hendry and duncan. 37 year old Hendry, formerly of Blackburn Rovers, and 20 year old Duncan will bring a mixture of youth and pace to a defence that looked shaky against falkirk last week.

Manager Comments:(taken from club website)

D-M: I am happy to announce the capture of both these players, the young and the....young at heart! We have a very young squad at the moment and colin will be an influence around them. he is still a good player at this level and i believe he will bring experience and determination, things we need if we are to take the club where i want us to be.

Bobby Duncan has just been released by Aberdeen and is a pacy winger, who can also play at full-back giving us options down that flank. his challenge is to assert himself and get in the 1st team, which he can with hard work.

-------------------------------------

1st 5 fixtures:-

vs DUMBARTON (H)

vs STENHOUSEMUIR (A)

vs AIRDRIE UTD. (H)

vs FORFAR (A)

vs PETERHEAD (A) League Cup 1st Round

How will the Fifers get on? send us your thoughts to Fee-Fife-Fo-Fum, for all things East Fife.

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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

Daily Herald Sport Section (Shorts):-

_East Fife sign Chalmers_

East Fife have completed the signing of former Rangers trainee Iain Chalmers on a free transfer. Chalmers,21, who can play at right back or centre half, joins the club on a 3-year deal and will go into the squad for the Fifer's 1st league game of the season at home to Dumbarton.

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Iain Chalmers (DRC) Free

-----------

Pre-season result:

Bellshill 0-5 East Fife

G Love '11 '14 '64, R Currie '84, K Deuchar pen'90

------------

-On the eve of East Fife manager Gino Dooba-Mackay's first league game in charge, the young manager took some time out from his preparations to give a general overview of his squad, and to reflect on his time in management so far:

Journalist: How have you find your 1st pre-season as East Fife manager?

D-M: Its gone quite well so far. When i was offered this job I knew the challenge I would face, but that only added to the intrigue and life as a manager has been enjoyable so far, if a little stressful at times.

J: Your team are relegation favourites this season. Does this bring with it any added pressure on you and your squad?

D-M: I wouldn't say so, no. It is important for me and the team to take each game as it comes and I'm not interested in making any predictions or assumptions. All i'm interested in is 3 points against Dumbarton and if we can do that then we can take it from there. I have every confidence in my squad.

J: You have been able to dip into the transfer market to bring in 4 players. What is your opinion on the overall outlook of the squad?

D-M: We have a very young squad and so I was pleased to get Colin Hendry on board. I have named him Club captain for the season and his experience will hopefully prove invaluable. Iain Chalmers & Bobby Duncan offer us defensive options and they are both talented young players who have come from higher leagues. Of the players here when I joined, I have been very impressed with young striker Graeme Love. He bagged a hat-trick in the last pre-season fixture and I think he could do well this year. Young left winger Jimmy Rae is also one to look out for, and Kenny Deuchar & Ross Currie have looked sharp. The whole squad is talented, and certainly capable of surviving in this league though.

J: And finally, any team news for the Dumbarton game?

D-M: Well, Iain Chalmers took a knock against Bellshill and we'll have to keep an eye on that, otherwise the whole squad is fit and ready for action.

transcript by J.Fad

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Scottish 2nd Division - 16/08/2003

East Fife 4-0 Dumbarton

Goals:

B Kerr '20 '66, K Deuchar '60 '76

MoM: K Deuchar Attendance: 1529

GK: S Colgan

DR: I Chalmers (>> McCheyne '76)

DC: C Hendry ©

DC: R Currie

DL: B Duncan

MR: W Stewart

MC: B Kerr

MC: C Miller (>> Blair '76)

ML: J Rae (>> McMillan '85)

FC: G Love

FC: K Deuchar

(Subs- G O'Connor, G McCheyne, C McMillan, B Blair, D Walker)

Match Report:

East Fife got off to a flyer in new manager Gino Dooba-Mackay's 1st ever league game. 2 goals apiece from Messrs Kerr and Deuchar put paid to Dumbarton's hopes of emerging from New Bayview with any points. The Fifers were the better side all over the park and dominated this game from start to finish, coming out of the blocks flying. After an early period of dominance in which Gordon Love and Deuchar both had good chances, East Fife finally made their possession count. And how. After a well worked move down the left hand side involving Jimmy Rae and debutant Bobby Duncan, centre midfielder Brian Kerr hammered in an absolute belter from 25 yards into the top left hand corner of the net, leaving Dumbarton keeper Stephen Grindlay stranded. 1-0 and a goal worth the entry fee alone.

East Fife grew in confidence with this and played some beautiful flowing football, but it wasn't until the hour mark that they made the scoreline more comfortable for the home crowd. Duncan and Rae were again involved down the left-hand side and Rae supplied a pass to Gordon Love who beat his man in the box and supplied a tap-in for Kenny Deuchar who couldn't miss.

The third goal arrived minutes later, when Love supplied Kerr with his second of the game, which was quite similar to Deuchar's first in that it was created down the left hand side by Love, his pace and trickery proving too much for the Dumbarton defence yet again with Kerr the benefactor of another tap-in, this time through the keeper's legs. The home fans were delighted but there was more to come later on when in the 76th minute Kenny Deuchar got his second and East Fife's fourth. A cross field free-kick from Jimmy Rae supplied Ross Currie, who put in a defence splitting through ball for Willie Stewart to cross. Deuchar got on the end of it and tapped home for the Fifers, whose 1st game of the league campaign ended in a 4-0 victory.

Dooba-Mackay's post-match comments:

-I'm delighted to get a win in my 1st league game in charge and i think it was fully deserved. The players have been working hard all pre-season and hopefully today is the start of our rewards for the hard work going into the club by everyone. We were playing an entirely new back four today and they were magnificent. 3 points in the bag, and now we go to Stenhousemuir with nothing to fear.

Fans' View:

Great stuff from the team today, really enjoyed watching that. I still think avoiding relegation will be hard, but if we play like that we'll be fine. And eh, that Bobby Duncan looks some player!

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Scottish 2nd Division - 20/08/2003

Stenhousemuir 2-4 East Fife

Goals: A Brown '25 '30 (Stenhousemuir)

K Deuchar '31 '54, G Love '58, D Walker '90

MoM: K Deuchar

Attendance: 1559 - Ochilview Park

GK: S Colgan

DR: I Chalmers

DC: C Hendry ©

DC: R Currie

DL: B Duncan inj:(>> McCheyne '61)

MR: W Stewart

MC: B Kerr

MC: C Miller (>> Blair '45)

ML: J Rae

FC: G Love (>> Walker '79)

FC: K Deuchar

(Subs- G O'Connor, G McCheyne, C McMillan, B Blair, D Walker)

Match Report:

East Fife came from 2-0 down to win 4-2 in a remarkable game at Ochilview Park against Stenhousemuir. Andy Brown had given Stenhousemuir a 2 goal lead within half an hour, his first a low shot past Colgan at the second attempt, his second a fine effort from 15 yards out across the face of goal into the top right hand corner of Colgan's net. Stenhousemuir seemed to be cruising at this stage but East Fife had an almost instant reply, Jimmy Rae cutting down the left hand channel from the kick-off after a fine pass from Brian Kerr and putting in a great cross for Kenny Deuchar to bring the Fifers back into the game. 2-1 down at half-time Dooba-Mackay made a change, bringing on Brian Blair to replace a disappointing Chris Miller in the heart of the midfield and this changed seemed to lift East Fife. They equalised in the 54th minute after a swift counter-attacking move involving Deuchar & Gordon Love, beautifully supplied by Love following a long ball from Chalmers and tapped in by Deuchar for the leveller. East Fife were rampant now, and it took them a matter of minutes to steam into the lead. Kerr and Blair thwarted a potential attack from Stenhousemuir and the Fifers were off on the counter-attack once again. Gordon Love played a delicious ball to Deuchar and then ran 60 yards from his own half to get on the end of Deuchar's cross and blast home his 1st league goal of the season. 3-2 to East Fife and an amazing turnaround was completed in the 90th minute when Dean Walker, on as a sub for Love, made it 4-2 with a header from a Brian Blair corner. Turnaround complete, and East Fife top the Scottish 2nd Division after 2 games.

Fans' View:

At 2-0 down i thought this was going to be one of those days, and we were heading for a thrashing. But we got back in it with some quality football and things are looking good for the season on that display. There's only one Kenny Deuchar, one Kenny Deeuuuchar!! Bring on Airdrie!!

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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Simon F:

nice to get off to a good start in the league icon14.gif <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

cheers, its always nice to hear people's comments. lets see if i can solidify my position at the top of the table icon_smile.gif

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Scottish 2nd Division - 23/08/2003

East Fife 1-1 Airdrie United

Goals: B Blair '41 M Roberts '69(Airdrie Utd.)

MoM: M McGeown (Airdrie)

Attendance: 1537 - New Bayview

GK: S Colgan

DR: I Chalmers

DC: C Hendry ©

DC: R Currie

DL: B Duncan

MR: W Stewart (>> C McMillan '76)

MC: B Kerr

MC: B Blair

ML: J Rae

FC: G Love (>> Walker '76)

FC: K Deuchar

(Subs- G O'Connor, G McCheyne, C McMillan, C Miller, D Walker)

Match Report:

Scottish 2nd Division favourites Airdrie United were held today by East Fife, but they will have been happy to escape from New Bayview with anything. East Fife were absolutely all over Airdrie, and the most evident pointer of this domination was the shots on goal count- 20 shots to Aidrie's 2 exemplified both the one-sidedness of the game and the magnificent goalkeeping display from man of the match Mark McGeown. Brian Blair, called into the starting lineup for the 1st time since his sending off against Falkirk, had put the Fifers in the lead in the 41st minute with a magnificently struck volley on the edge of the area from Jimmy Rae's cross.

East Fife should have made their possession and created chances count, but Gordon Love was especially guilty of some gilt-edged chances and Airdrie took one of the only chances that came to them. Colin Hendry failed to intercept a through ball from Dave Dunn and Mark Roberts coolly slotted home for Airdrie. East Fife had further chances to win the game but McGeown refused to be beaten, and thwarted several opportunities in particular a spectacular one-handed save to prevent Blair. Honours even at the final whistle, and Airdrie will certainly be happy with the result, as with a less capable keeper it could have been a cricket score.

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Scottish 2nd Division - 30/08/2003

Forfar 1-1 East Fife

Goals: G Love '3, P Tosh '36

MoM: B Blair

Attendance: 1537 - Station Park

GK: S Colgan

DR: I Chalmers

DC: C Hendry ©

DC: R Currie

DL: B Duncan

MR: W Stewart

MC: B Kerr (>> G Cunningham '89)

MC: B Blair

ML: J Rae

FC: G Love

FC: K Deuchar (>> B Fairbairn '70)

(Subs- G O'Connor, G McCheyne, C McMillan, G Cunningham, B Fairbairn)

Match Report:

An even contest ended 1-1 at Station Park as East Fife maintained their unbeaten start to the league season. Again they took the lead, this time within 4 minutes, Gordon Love applying the finish after keeper Brown parried Willie Stewart's powerful drive. However Forfar steadied themselves and equalised through Paul Tosh in the 25th minute after good work from Danny Ogunmade, on-loan from Dundee Utd. The game was largely played out in the midfield and not that many chances were created, but nevertheless Gordon Love could have had a hat-trick if he had been more composed in front of goal.

Dooba-Mackay's Post match comments:

-The last two games have been slightly frustrating for us, i think we've been good enough in both games to take all the points but it hasnt happened. When you look at it though, we are odds-on favourites for relegation and Airdrie and Forfar are promotion contenders according to the bookies, so we have proved our quality. A draw was probably a fair result today, but Gordon Love should maybe have put his other chances away. So far though, a good start to the season.

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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

East Fife complete deadline day swoop

-East Fife have completed the signing of Chris Hargreaves from Northampton for £4,000. The 31 year old attacking midfielder was out of favour at his former club and was snapped up by manager Dooba-Mackay just hours before the transfer deadline.

In the meantime, Euan Donaldson has joined Yeovil for £10,000 and Patrick Kelly was also sold, to Inverness Caledonian Thistle for £10,000.

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Chris Hargreaves (AM RLC) £4,000

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< Euan Donaldson (D/DML) £10,000 to Yeovil

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< Patrick Kelly (DR) £10,000 to Inverness Caledonian Thistle

-----------------------

Dooba-Mackay's comments: (taken from club's website)

-I am pleased to announce the signing of midfielder Chris Hargreaves. He is another experienced player, who can play across the midfield. I was first alerted to him by my scouts, and its his creativity and flair that persuaded me to sign him. We have quite a young midfield and I am fully aware of the long season ahead, so a player of his versatility is very much welcome. He will go into the squad for the league cup game against Peterhead.

Obviously Euan and Patrick have been transferred to other clubs, and this was done because I feel we had too many defenders and too high a wage bill. They are both good players and I wish them well, but we feel we have better options still at the club and I did not want them to get unhappy on the bench. We got good prices for them as well, so the decision was taken to sell them, and I think its a good bit of business for the club.

---------

Fan's view

Sad to see Paddy leave, he was a fans favourite here, but Dooba-Mackay is shaping quite a good squad so I'll trust him for now. Not too sure about this Hargreaves fella though, he's getting on a bit. We'll see

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-Fifers crash out of League Cup at first hurdle.

League Cup 1st Round - 2/09/2003

Peterhead 3-2 East Fife

Goals: M Bavidge pen'3 '76, R Grant '68 (Peterhead)

B Fairbairn '19, W Stewart '23

MoM: M Bavidge (Peterhead)

Attendance: 1519 - Balmoor Stadium

GK: G O'Connor

DR: C Lumsden (>> I Chalmers '90)

DC: C Hendry ©

DC: R Currie

DL: B Duncan

MR: W Stewart

MC: B Kerr

MC: C Hargreaves (inj: >> C Miller '35)

ML: J Rae

FC: B Fairbairn

FC: K Deuchar (>> D Walker '62)

(Subs- C Martin, I Chalmers, C McMillan, C Miller, D Walker)

Pundit's view:

-Gino Dooba-Mackay's side crashed out of the League Cup to Scottish Div. 3 side Peterhead today, but if it weren't for awful defending and goalkeeping mix-ups, they'd still be in the cup. Firstly, Brian Fairbairn gave away a needless penalty in the opening minutes, and then Hendry and stand-in goalkeeper O'Connor, in for the injured Colgan, made an almighty cock-up to gift Peterhead an equaliser, when East Fife were 2-1 up. Peterhead then went on and got a winner, with more poor defending, this time from Craig Lumsden, starting his first game of the season.

Hargreaves looked lively on his debut until he was taken off injured, and a fractured wrist will keep him out for a few weeks, but I must say, Jimmy Rae had another great game on the left flank. He looks like one for the future.

------------------

Other news:

Gordon Love, Willie Stewart, Jimmy Rae and Brian Kerr have all signed new contracts.

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East Fife's next 10 fixtures:-

vs HAMILTON (H)

vs MORTON (A)

vs BERWICK (A)

vs ALLOA (H)

vs ARBROATH (H)

vs STENHOUSEMUIR (H)

vs DUMBARTON (A)

vs AIRDRIE (A)

vs FORFAR (H)

vs HAMILTON (A)

How will the Fifers get on? This was the result in a poll on the club's unofficial website:

0-5 points = 5%

6-10 points = 13%

11-15 points = 44%

16-20 points = 27%

21-25 points = 8%

26-30 points = 3%

Stay tuned!

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It was a cold November Monday morning in Methil and Gino Dooba-Mackay, manager of East Fife, had just arrived at his office overlooking a muddy, rained out New Bayview pitch. The last few months had been very eventful. So eventful that it required him a moment to take stock and reflect. His first season in management had thus far been successful. He was a confident man and his bold prediction in his opening press conference was still the butt of many a joke in the local and national sports pages, but even he did not expect the club to progress under his guidance as rapidly as it had.

Only 3% of Fife fans had even dared predict it, but to their and everybody's amazement in the Scottish 2nd Division, East Fife had taken a remarkable 26 points out of 30 and were sat at the top of the league with 34 points, 10 points ahead of nearest rivals Morton and Forfar. Indeed, they were also unbeaten in the process with a record that read Pld 14 - Won 10 - Drawn 4 - Lost 0 - For 27 - Against - 9 GD +18. Dooba-Mackay had done something right thus far, and the atmosphere around the club was a mixture of delight and caution. East Fife were, after all, 16-1 for promotion and hot favourites for relegation. All the local papers were optimistic, but many pundits around the country thought it was just early season luck getting the Fifers through. But this was not really the case. East Fife had played solidly all season if a little unspectacularly, and seemed to possess the capability to grind out results when needed. Of the 10 victories only 5 were by more than one goal, two of those coming in the first 2 games. They had also shown this new-found resilience in acquiring the ability to win after going behind, which they had done away to Dumbarton and Stenhousemuir amongst other fixtures.

Dooba-Mackay had left his assistant manager to take control of training this morning, but he did so with the intention of analysing how the players trained without him as he watched from his office. He was happy with the make-up of his squad at the moment, but realised it may need improving if they were to really challenge for promotion over the coming months. He had already begun to rest players that had been performing excellently, such as Jimmy Rae who had scored some vital free-kicks to maintain their unbeaten run (e.g. 90th minute away to Berwick) and Brian Blair, whose all-round good performances in centre midfield had led to rejected bids from several clubs, Rotherham and Bristol Rovers being the highest profile.

He was also pleased that the quartet of strikers were all weighing in with goals- Kenny Deuchar the highest scorer with 7 goals, followed by Dean Walker on six. The midfield and defence were also performing sterlingly, with Colin Hendry leading well from the back and Willie Stewart providing flair and skill on the right wing, popping up with some crucial goals along the way. 19 year-old goalkeeper Steven Colgan had also been an outstanding performer. Having been transfer-listed in Dooba-Mackay's 1st week in charge, he had gone on to establish himself as the number 1 goalie at the club, earning himself the offer of a new contract along the way.

Off the pitch Dooba-Mackay's efforts hadn't gone unnoticed and he had picked up the Manager of the Month award in the Scottish 2nd Division in September and October running. Brian Blair had also picked up 2 Young Player of the Month awards, and Kenny Deuchar had also received honours, picking up the Scottish 2nd Division Player of the Month in Ocotber.

It was not all going perfectly though. Dooba-Mackay had come under fire briefly for his signing of Chris Hargreaves. Being one of the higher earners at the club and the only sigining paid for, East Fife fans weren't happy when the 31 year-old picked up shin splints in only his 2nd game and was out for 2 months. Aside from this though, the fans were delighted with the new manager, and the Fifers looked forward to the December fixtures.

As Dooba-Mackay poured himself a mug of tea and looked out over New Bayview to watch the players train, a tingle of excitement ran through his body. He had devised a tough and strenuous training session for the players today, to keep the players on their toes and erase any sense of complacency that might be setting into his young squad. He thought it may be time to throw some fringe players into action to avoid any tiredness, and was keen to see how they performed in training. Despite the insistence on hard work and dedication, Dooba-Mackay couldn't help but get carried away for a minute in his office when thinking of the 10 point gap and the real prospect of, dare he even think it....promotion. 16-1 it was. Maybe he should have had a tenner on it, he thought to himself with a smile.

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cheers tyrone and spav, we'll see about the 5 year plan!

------------------

Scottish 2nd Division - 29/11/2003

Arbroath 0-1 East Fife

Goals: D Walker '39

MoM: D Walker

Attendance: 1538 - Gayfield Park

GK: S Colgan

DR: I Chalmers

DC: C Hendry ©

DC: R Currie

DL: B Duncan

MR: W Stewart

MC: B Blair

MC: C Miller

ML: J Rae (>> C Hargreaves '82)

FC: D Walker

FC: K Deuchar (>> G Love '63)

(Subs- C Martin (GK), G McCheyne, G Cunningham, C Hargreaves, G Love)

Match Report:

East Fife extended their lead at the top of the Scottish 2nd Division to 12 points today with a clinical 1-0 victory over 7th placed Arbroath at Gayview Park. The visitors, unbeaten in the league so far, put in another solid performance and manager Gino Dooba-Mackay seems to have instilled a good work ethic into the team, making them hard to beat. Having given away a soft last minute goal from a mistake by Iain Chambersto make the score end 1-1 in this fixture at New Bayview earlier in the season, The Fifers were determined to take all 3 points from today's game, and they did so even if it was not pretty to watch. East Fife had largely dominated the game and will point to the chances created and shots on goal tally as an indicator of their dominance, but in truth it was a tight game with neither side giving too much away. In the opening 15 minutes East Fife had the better possession, but both sides were guilty of bad misses, Dean Walker shooting straight at the keeper when through on goal, and Ross Graham forcing a magnificent save from Steven Colgan when he too was put through by a superb pass from Arbroath captain Andy Cargill. From the resulting corner Walker had to be alert to clear off the line, preventing Arbroath from taking the lead.

East Fife soon began to assert themselves however, and in the 39th minute took the lead, Dean Walker converting Brian Blair's corner for his 7th goal of the season. This gave The Fifers a boost and it should have been 2-0 minutes later. When Arbroath keeper Vince Parker parried Dean Walker's header the whole ground held its breath as Kenny Deuchar looked certain to tap-in to an empty net, but the striker skewed his shot wide and fell to the floor, probably hoping for the ground to swallow him up. An appalling miss.

The opening 20 minutes of the second half were dominated by East Fife with Vince Parker in good form to deny Deuchar, but the game then petered out as both sides seemed to sit back. With 8 minutes remaining absentee Chris Hargreaves came on for his 1st appearance since his shin splints injury, but the game remained uneventful until the 90th minute when Willie Stewart did brilliantly to sidestep the keeper when put through, but lost his footing on the muddy pitch. Other results had gone East Fife's way though, and they extend their lead at the top to 12 points.

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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> East Fife get Brain

East Fife have completed the signing of 20-year old goalkeeper Jonathan Brain. Brain had just been released by Port Vale and joins on a free transfer.

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

----------------

Other News:

-Gino Dooba-Mackay has won the Scottish 2nd Division Manager of the Month award for the 3rd month running, after guiding his club to the top of the league by 12 points.

-East Fife have accepted a £3,000 bid for goalkeeper Gary O'Connor from a host of clubs, including Peterhead and Dumbarton. He will discuss personal terms. Manager Dooba-Mackay was unavailable for comment.

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Scottish 2nd Division - 06/12/2003

East Fife 2-0 Berwick

Goals: B Blair '15, C Miller '48

MoM: B Blair

Attendance: 1615 - New Bayview

GK: S Colgan

DR: I Chalmers

DC: C Hendry ©

DC: R Currie

DL: B Duncan

MR: W Stewart

MC: B Blair

MC: C Miller (>> G Cunningham '77)

ML: C Hargreaves

FC: D Walker

FC: G Love (>> B Fairbairn '77)

(Subs- J Brain (GK), G McCheyne, G Cunningham, J Rae, B Fairbairn)

Match Report:

A virtuoso display from Brian Blair set tongues wagging and telephones in Gino Dooba-Mackay's office ringing today, as he almost single-handedly won the game for the Fifers against 4th place Berwick. The 20 year old attacking midfielder produced a masterclass for the fans today, scoring one and making the other for Chris Miller, who headed home from a free-kick in the 48th minute to seal the points. But back to Blair. Before the season begun this youngster was loitering in the reserves at East Fife, and many fans did not expect him to make the grade, even at this level. But credit to the manager who seems to have spotted a gem here. After the game no fewer than six English Football League clubs, Brighton being one, had bids turned down for him, with several scouts at New Bayview to witness a magnificent show from the kid.

East Fife were dominant in this game and fully deserved the points, but it was the manner in which Blair performed that made people sit up and take notice. Everything the Fifers did seemed to stem from him as he pulled the strings in the midfield from start to finish. He had an early shot blocked from which Chris Hargreaves' speculative effort on the rebound flew wide from about 20 yards out, and he had already created chances for other members of the team, when in the 15th minute East Fife were awarded a free-kick for a foul on Willie Stewart. From 25 yards out up stepped Blair and curled a right foot shot into the top left hand corner. The crowd went wild and the value of the player went up a few thousand pounds. 1-0. The way he stepped up, you knew he'd score.

This was not all however. Throughout the game he caused Berwick problems with his range of passing, dropping back from the midfield and spraying 40 yard balls across the park, or just drifting behind the front two and shooting from long range. Indeed if it weren't for Ross Godfrey in the Berwick goal he would have a catalogue of beauties from this game, as several long range efforts were tipped over the bar by Godfrey. A 10 out of 10 performance from Blair then, and the praises of his manager after the game, saying, 'Brian Blair ran the game today and I'm delighted for him. If he continues performing like that and the team continue to defend and attack well, I don't see why we can't make our mark on this league campaign.'

If Blair continues to play like that, he won't be at lowly East Fife much longer.

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Christmas is a wonderful time of the year. A time for sharing and caring, giving instead of always taking, and a time for family and loved ones. A time of the year when everything stands still and everyone relaxes. Kids running downstairs excitedly to open their presents, stolen kisses under the mistletoe, The Queen's speech, Christmas dinner, more food than you'd normally eat in a week and more alcohol than you'd care to admit. Christmas crackers, cranberry sauce, James Bond repeats. Love it. Great time of the year.

Except for a manager.

Christmas morning is usually a time when the family all get in touch with one another. 'Hope you like the presents, have a good day, pray for me at church.' That kind of thing. Well wishing. Not for me. I'm on the phone to my chairman Gordon Dow, being told there'll be no festive cheer for East Fife. Despite having trimmed the wage bill and bringing in a net profit of £19,000 from transfers, I'm being told to cut wages further. I don't really mind that, but on Christmas day?

There are a few players that enter my head and I am forced to call them in for contract negotiations. Here's me sitting in my cold office on Christmas morning, looking through the files to work out the highest paid earners and who's being paid what in terms of bonuses, and is it possible to cut the wages by giving him a lower contract with incentives if he scores goals? Sorry, can't watch the Queen's address later today, I have to negotiate Chris Miller's assist bonus.

Looking at the finances slightly worries me. We're 11 points clear at the top with 2 games in hand, and promotion is a real possibility this year. Everyone's happy and the fans are having the Christmas of their lives. But all is not well. We're in the red. We're making a monthly loss and something needs to be done about it. On the pitch we're successful at the moment. Despite 0-0 draws at home to Morton and against Peterhead in the Scottish Cup, we still lead the league and have just shrugged Peterhead off away from home, winning 2-1 to get revenge for our last cup encounter. Off it however, there may be trouble. We need a decent cup run I feel, a lucrative home tie will bring in some cash. Winning away to Stirling in the next round is crucial. Attendances are up so I'm happy, and the sale of Gary O'Connor to Queen's Park in January will ease the load. Lets hope so, as I don't want to have to sell players in an overachieving team, especially with Colin Hendry already announcing his retirement at the end of the season. I'll get him to rethink that though. Promotion is the goal and I don't want us to lose focus. Gotta stay focussed now, having come this far. I reckon we could do it. I'm confident.

(pours a brandy)

Anyway, back to business. I think I'll give Steve Nicholas a call and offer him an extra year in exchange for a wage cut. On Christmas Day. Who'd be a manager eh?!

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Scottish 2nd Division - 27/12/2003

Stenhousemuir 0-2 East Fife

Goals: B Blair '16, D Walker '56

MoM: B Blair

Attendance: 1542 - Ochilview Park

GK: S Colgan

DR: I Chalmers

DC: C Hendry ©

DC: R Currie

DL: B Duncan

MR: W Stewart

MC: B Blair

MC: C Hargreaves

ML: J Rae

FC: D Walker

FC: G Love

(Subs- J Brain (GK), G McCheyne, C Miller, S Nicholas, K Deuchar)

Match Report:

East Fife extended their unbeaten run to 18 games today, taking all three points back to Methil with a professional performance away to lowly Stenhousemuir. Before the season began, East Fife were relegation favourites and Stenhousemuir were tipped by many for promotion. How wrong they were. East Fife sit on a fourteen point lead in the league while Stenhousemuir linger in the bottom two, five league defeats in a row and manager John McVeigh's job hanging by a thread. East Fife's manager Gino Dooba-Mackay is certainly not wary of his position, and has become popular with the fans at New Bayview having put the Fifers in with a good shout for promotion to the Scottish 1st Division, barring a major cock-up in the 2nd half of the season.

Having gone 2 goals down in the same fixture here earlier in the season before coming back to win 4-2, East Fife have developed a professional streak that does not allow them to be put under such pressure these days, and in fact they haven't conceded a goal in the league now for six games- a sign of their mean defence currently conceding an average of 0.5 goals/game. The Fifers started brightly and had a chance to take the lead in the fourth minute. Willie Stewart flew down the right wing and beat his man with ease before whipping a mean cross into the box that narrowly evaded Gordon Love. Love managed to get the ball at the second attempt, swivelling and unleashing a wicked shot that was well saved by The Warriors' keeper Willie McCulloch. The away fans had to wait until the 16th minute for a goal, and it came from man of the moment Brian Blair, a trademark free-kick flying into the net from 20 yards out. Blair was once again named man of the match for another outstanding display, capped off with this fine goal.

In the second half East Fife consolidated their lead to the disappointment of the home fans. Ross Currie's long ball from defence was latched onto by Dean Walker, who maintained his cool and took it round the keeper to slot home. 2-0 and game over. East Fife's mean defence withheld the brief spells of pressure that Stenhousemuir managed to put together, and held on for the 3 points.

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Scottish 2nd Division - 3/1/2004

East Fife 5-0 Dumbarton

Goals: D Walker '10 '31 '55 '82, G Love '43

MoM: D Walker

Attendance: 1529 - New Bayview

GK: S Colgan

DR: I Chalmers (>> G McCheyne '56)

DC: C Hendry ©

DC: R Currie

DL: B Duncan

MR: W Stewart

MC: B Blair

MC: C Hargreaves (>> S Nicholas '85)

ML: J Rae

FC: D Walker (>> K Deuchar '85)

FC: G Love

(Subs- J Brain (GK), G McCheyne, C Miller, S Nicholas, K Deuchar)

Match Report:

A 5-star display from the Fifers, including a four goal salvo from Dean Walker saw off bottom of the table Dumbarton in the first game of the New Year. Before the game manager Gino Dooba-Mackay was presented with his 4th Manager of the Month award in a row, to the cheers of the home fans, and he will have been even happier with what he would witness on the pitch over the course of the afternoon. It was a clash of top against bottom, and remarkably, one team who have yet to lose in the league against a team that have yet to win in the league, over half-way through the season. These type of games can often be coupon-busters with form going out of the window and upsets caused, but this was never to be the case. Although that is not entirely true. Despite the fact that Dumbarton only had 1 shot in the whole match, it very nearly gave them the lead in the 7th minute. Colin Hendry and Ross Currie failed to clear a relatively easy looking ball, and Dumbarton's Kevin Steele went through and unleashed a rocket at the goal. However, Steven Colgan pulled off a magnificent save to deny what looked like a certain goal, and remind his manager of his obvious ability, in the face of being left out in place of Jonathan Brain in the recent cup games against Peterhead.

From that point on it was one-way traffic on a one-way road, The Fifers running Dumbarton ragged with some marvellous football. All 4 goals for Dean Walker were from headers and he took his tally for the season to 12 goals, converting crosses from Brian Blair and Bobby Duncan in the first half, and from Graeme McCheyne and Iain Chalmers in the second. In between these goals Gordon Love tapped into an empty net from a parried Dean Walker shot, and the rout was finished by Walker in the 82nd minute, before he went off to a standing ovation. 5-0 and the Fife go marching on.

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cheers Damon, looking good for promotion i hope anyway! icon_smile.gif

Update from Daily Herald: League leaders around Scotland, England & Europe:

At the start of the new year, lets take a look at the clubs sitting at the summit of their leagues across Europe:

Scotland:

Scottish Premier League: Celtic (+4 points => Rangers)

Scottish First Division: Raith Rovers (+2 => Clyde)

Scottish Second Division: East Fife (+14 => Morton)

Scottish Third Division: Montrose (+12 => Cowdenbeath)

England:

English Premiership: Manchester United (+3 => Arsenal)

Division 1: W.B.A. (+3 => Millwall)

Division 2: Brighton (+16 => Tranmere)

Spain:

Primeral Liga: Real Madrid (+7 => Sevilla)

France:

Ligue 1: P.S.G. (+1 => Montpellier)

Italy:

Serie A: Juventus (+3 => Lazio)

Portugal:

Superliga: Benfica/Porto (tie)

Holland:

Eredivisie: PSV (+3 => Ajax)

Belgium:

First Division: Standard Liege (+1 => AA Gent)

--------------------------

East Fife next 10 fixtures:

vs ALLOA (A)

vs STIRLING (A) Scottish Cup 3rd Round

vs AIRDRIE UTD. (H)

vs FORFAR (A)

vs MORTON (A)

vs ARBROATH (H)

vs HAMILTON (H)

vs BERWICK (A)

vs ALLOA (H)

vs STENHOUSEMUIR (H)

Send your predictions/comments to Fee-Fife-Fo-Fum, for all things Fife!

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7th January 2004 - Last minute winner gives Fife the points

A last-minute Willie Stewart winner gave East Fife all three points at Recreation Park against Alloa today, after a beautiful passing move built from the back involving 8 Fife players. The game had looked all set for a draw after Iain Nicholson had cancelled out Dean Walker's 5th minute effort, and the game had been a close fought encounter, one in which 7th placed Alloa will feel aggrieved not to have held on for a draw.

Man of the Match: Willie Stewart

10th January 2004 - Fifers crash out to lowly Stirling

East Fife manager's decision to rest in-form Brian Blair proved costly today as 3rd division Stirling knocked them out of the Scottish cup. A 76th minute goal from Stirling substitute Scott McLean was decisive in the end, as The Fifers put in a lacklustre display epitomised by the fact that they only had one shot on target in the whole game. McLean took his goal well, chipping keeper Jonathan Brain as he rushed out to close him down and sending the home fans crazy at the Forthbank Stadium. With this East Fife are now out of all three cup competitions, leaving them to concentrate on the league although this will not have pleased the manager, who was said to have been keen to go far in the Scottish Cup this season.

MoM: Willie Stewart

17th January 2004 - Deja vu at home to Airdrie

Airdrie came from behind to snatch a point today in almost an exact replica of the last time the two sides met at New Bayview. In that game it also finished 1-1, in that game Airdrie came from behind to get a draw, in that game East Fife created far more chances and had far more possession and in that game Airdrie's goalkeeper Mark McGeown was man of the match. And so too it was in this game. East Fife's form has stuttered a bit this year so far, but when Dean Walker headed home from a Brian Blair corner to grab his 14th goal of the season, it looked as if East Fife would go from strength to strength as their dominance had implied. However, a Jerome Vareille equaliser in the 79th minute cancelled the deficit and Airdrie held on for a point, largely again thanks to keeper McGeown.

MoM: Mark McGeown

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Going into the game at Station Park against 2nd place Forfar Gino Dooba-Mackay was worried. Although the gap between the 2 sides stood at 15 points before kick-off, East Fife hadn't been playing with the same fluency and conviction that they had been through the opening half of the season. Dooba-Mackay couldn't put his finger on why- maybe the players had taken their foot off the pedal with such a large gap at the top, thinking promotion was a foregone conclusion. Maybe, he thought, captain Colin Hendry's decision to retire had effected the younger players, as he had been a consistent shining light to them with his attitude both in training and in matches. Or maybe they were just tired. Outside the first 11 and subs options were generally thin and East Fife had no under19s and few reserve players capable of making the step up. Dooba-Mackay had tried to bring players in but he was determined to get the right quality of player, which meant offering a higher wage, something the board weren't willing to do. Indeed, Dooba-Mackay and chairman Gordon Dow had had several discussions about the wage structure at the club and Dow would not budge, causing a brief deterioration in relations between the two friends. Dooba-Mackay knew the situation before he took the job, but him and his scouts had come across some good players that he wanted to pounce on before other clubs were alerted to their potential. He realised that to improve the club, the scouting system had to be immaculate and regularly stayed up into the early hours watching videos of any level of football, most recently Icelandic football! Dow however would not be convinced despite Dooba-Mackay's trimming of squad's wages, aided further by the sales of Paul Mortimer and Peter Reilly both to Stranraer for £3,000 combined.

Dooba-Mackay was not best pleased with what he had seen on the training ground in the past week, feeling that some first team players were not showing the dedication that they had earlier in the season. Perhaps it was time for a change he thought, and decided that now was the time to try and bring freshness into the team. He did so by recalling young left-wingerGordon Gilbert into the first team squad, having rejected an offer for him from next opponents Forfar earlier in the week. He also decided to drop Iain Chalmers, whose performances in training had been slack of late. Chris McMillan was also called into the squad to cover for the loss of Willie Stewart through injury.

As the players ran out onto the pitch Dooba-Mackay wasn't reassured. The fire in the eyes wasn't there and many looked tired before they'd even kicked a ball. Forfar on the other hand seemed buoyed by the opposition, and the chance to close the gap. They came out looking sharp and confident. Was this to be the 1st defeat?

In the 17th minute Forfar took the lead through a long range effort from Hugh Davidson. Criticism could be aimed at the keeper Steve Colgan, Mackay thought to himself, as although it was a good effort it was straight at him. Heads dropped, and Forfar dominated the rest of the half.

At half time Dooba-Mackay dished out a b*llocking, informing his players that if they wanted to stay at the top they had to perform to the highest of their abilities in every game, albeit in slightly more peppered language. It had little effect. Robbie Horn alerted himself to Dooba-Mackay with an outstanding performance at the back for Forfar, a possible replacement for Hendry he thought to himself. In this instance he started the move by thwarting Dean Walker and setting Forfar on the attack, playing a pass to Reid who then played a one-two with top scorer in the 2nd division Paul Tosh, before slotting coolly past Colgan.

Forfar went from strength to strength until Chris McMillan bagged his first of the season finishing nicely after a delightful cross-field through ball from Brian Blair. The last 15 minutes were end to end stuff with East Fife desperately trying to maintain their unbeaten record, and Forfar continuing to attack, but in the 86th minute the game was decided once and for all. Chris Miller got his head to a corner and looked like he had clinched the equaliser, but it was expertly clawed from goal by Forfar keeper Michael Brown. He then turned provider by hoofing the ball upfield and setting up a 4 on 3 counter attack, which was converted by Scott Taylor after Tosh's effort was palmed straight into his path. 3-1 it ended then, and East Fife's record of 21 games without losing came to an end, narrowing the gap at the top to 12 points.

Scottish 2nd Division - 24/1/2004

Forfar 3-1 East Fife

Goals: H Davidson '17, A Reid '50, S Taylor '87 C McMillan '73

MoM: R Horn (Forfar)

Attendance: 1546 - Station Park

GK: S Colgan

DR: G McCheyne (>> J Ovenstone '75)

DC: C Hendry ©

DC: R Currie

DL: B Duncan

MR: C McMillan

MC: B Blair

MC: C Miller

ML: J Rae (>> G Gilbert '55)

FC: D Walker

FC: K Deuchar (>> G Love '45)

(Subs- J Brain (GK), J Ovenstone, G Cunningham, G Gilbert, G Love)

-----------------------

Dooba-Mackay's post-match comments:

-I'm disappointed to lose, but at the same time perhaps the unbeaten run had become an albatross around our necks. I've got a young squad here who were written off by everyone at the start of the season, yet only 4 months later we are now expected to win every game. Forfar played well, but I felt we could have snatched an equaliser in the last few moments. We went for it, nearly scored and then they hit us on the break to wrap up the points. Thats football, and we have to deal with that and prepare now for our trip to Morton.

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Gino Dooba-Mackay spent that night watching the video again and again trying to put his finger on what the problems were with the team's performance, and weighing up whether it was just a one-off defeat or the signs of something more serious. It had been a long and slightly disappointing one and he was fairly tired. He was about to sit down to watch a video he had been sent- Liverpool Reserves vs Manchester United Reserves, mainly to monitor the progress of Liverpool striker Daniel Sjolund, a player he knew was soon out of contract and on the transfer list, when the phone rang. He didn't really want to entertain a phone call at this hour but decided to anyway. It was Mr. Martin Laing, chairman of Stenhousemuir. Having sacked John McVeigh he rang Dooba-Mackay to offer him the job. He told Mackay that he considered him to be the best young manager in the 2nd division and, aware that East Fife were not as financially comfortable as Stenhousemuir, tried to lure him with the offer of £30,000 to spend. He also took time to explain to Dooba-Mackay the history of the club, where he wanted the club to be and how he aimed to go about doing it. They had decent training facilities and a nicer stadium than East Fife, and Laing tried to persuade Dooba-Mackay that it was time for a step up in his career. Stenhousemuir were languishing in the relegation zone, but Laing wanted a mid-table finish, aware that a few wins could help propel them higher up the league.

Dooba-Mackay enjoyed the chat and listened earnestly to what Laing had to say. They had a few good players and a better than coaching staff than East Fife, and in terms of facilities it did represent a step up. He analysed the league table and found that East Fife were 29 points ahead of Stenhousemuir. Laing needed a reply within the next 24 hours in order to press on with his search either way, but the call came within an hour. He refused the job offer. During the hour he spent thinking he weighed up his own prospects. He was an ambitious man and he wanted to manage at a higher level as soon as possible, but he felt that that could be achieved at East Fife. If he could ride out the season and get them promoted, against all odds, his profile would surely raise, purting him in a stronger position at the club when it came to wage and transfer demands. He was in the process of building something promising at East Fife and didn't want to let it go. He had a 5 year plan that, no matter how heavily ridiculed, he wanted to achieve, or at least hang around long enough to see it through its infancy. He loved working in Methil with this set of players and this set of fans, in this small but cosy office. It was a polite but firm 'thanks but no thanks.'

It had been a busy week for Dooba-Mackay, with the transfer deadline approaching. His over-achieving squad was not short of admirers and his phone would not stop ringing with offers for players. Dean Walker, Brian Fairbairn, Craig McMillan and Gordon Gilbert had all been the subject of bids from clubs ranging from Swindon to Stranraer, but all had been turned down. In the meantime, Ipswich Town had been sending scouts to Fife games regularly as part of a bid to take Willie Stewart to Portman Road, and Dooba-Mackay was careful to make sure they didnt try illegal methods in their hunt. He had also attempted himself to bring in new personnel, but was unsuccessful in bids to bring in a new assistant manager and coach to the club, many potential candidates turning their noses up at the 'measly' wage East Fife were prepared (or could afford) to offer.

And so to Cappielow Park, where East Fife faced Greenock Morton. Dooba-Mackay brought in John Ovenstone for his first start of the season, but was hampered by the news that Gordon Love would be out injured for a month. He decided to shake up the front line and brought Brian Fairbairn, subject of a rejected bid by Exeter, into the starting lineup. This decision was rewarded within 5 minutes of the game when Fairbairn gave the Fifers the lead with a well struck volley after good work down the right from Willie Stewart. Stewart played a blinder and scored his 8th of the season just before half-time with a low shot after a good run. East Fife's dominance was converted to goals for the first time in a while, and they scored their third shortly into the second half, as Fairbairn powered home a low drive past the keeper after David McGregor's last ditch tackle on Dean Walkerran straight into his path. With that, the Fifers are back on track.

Scottish 2nd Division - 31/1/2004

Morton 0-3 East Fife

Goals: B Fairbairn '5 '53, W Stewart '44

MoM: D Walker

Attendance: 1709 - Cappielow Park

GK: S Colgan

DR: I Chalmers

DC: C Hendry ©

DC: R Currie

DL: J Ovenstone

MR: W Stewart

MC: B Blair (>> C Hargreaves '82)

MC: C Miller

ML: C McMillan (>> G Gilbert '62)

FC: D Walker

FC: B Fairbairn

(Subs- J Brain (GK), B Duncan, C Hargreaves, G Gilbert, K Deuchar)

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East Fife completed a clean sweep of the awards today as the Young Player of the Month, Player of the Month and Manager of the Month awards for January all ended up at New Bayview. The press and camera crews were in full force at the club's training ground in Methil as the awards were presented to Brian Blair, Dean Walker and Gino Dooba-Mackay respectively. For the manager it is his 5th Manager of the Month award in a row, and Berwick's Paul Smith is the only other manager to pick up the award this season. For Dean Walker it was his first award of the season thanks to his outstanding performances and record of over a goal a game in January, and for Brian Blair it was his 4th award, a hat-trick of Young player of the month awards to go with his Player of the Month award in December. Manager Dooba-Mackay praised both players and his squad as a whole, pointing out that the fact that both Walker and Blair were under 23 bodes well for the club's future and challenging them to continue their good form, starting with the home game against Arbroath at the weekend.

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The next day Gino Dooba-Mackay called a squad meeting for midday. He felt the victory at Greenock Morton was a huge result, lifting the air of tiredness and complacency that may have set into his players. For the first time in a long time they had finally converted their chances and had won convincingly. This was a relief to him as he wasn't sure how this young squad would react to their 1st league defeat. One day you're on top of the world and the next you're at the bottom looking up, and its how you react in the face of adversity that determines true characters. So he was, for the moment, pleased. However he still felt that some players were taking it easy. Their substantial lead at the top had made players ease off he felt, and he decided to do something about it. They needed a new challenge and he would set it for them. With a 15 point lead and 13 games to go he set them the challenge of winning promotion in the next 8 games, informing them that he wanted promotion secured by the home game with Greenock Morton on the 10th April 2004. He felt that 6 wins would be enough to promote them and wanted it wrapped up as soon as possible. With this short meeting the players had a new focus. Could they wrap it up by that date? 'Have you got what it takes to complete this challenge?' he asked his players. He hoped it would get them fired up and focussed. They had 8 games in which to do it, starting with Arbroath at home.

So when Ross Currie headed in the last goal of a 6-0 victory in the 90th minute, they had passed the first test with flying colours and shown the manager what they were capable of. In front of 1,525 fans at New Bayview, East Fife had absolutely battered Arbroath. It was a footballing masterclass, if such a term could be applied to a semi-professional Scottish 2nd division side. Chris Miller had opened the scoring with a 25 yard screamer and all the goals had a touch of class about them. Brian Blair scored a trademark free-kick to make it 2-0 before seeing his 20 yard curler deflected into the net to make it 3-0. Dean Walker made it 4-0 just after half an hour with a header latching onto a through pass from Colin Hendry, before the captain went on to score his first ever goal for the Fifers with a header from a corner in the 64th minute. When Currie too bagged his 1st ever goal the rout was complete to Dooba-Mackay's satisfaction. With Forfar being held by Morton the gap at the top of the table lengthened to 17 points and East Fife's chances of promotion extended further.

14th February 2004 - East Fife 4-1 Hamilton

East Fife dished out Hamilton a Valentine's Day massacre today at New Bayview with Dean Walker and Willie Stewart both bagging a brace. The Fifers looked lively from the off and scored within three minutes, Walker profitting from Iain Chalmers' good work down the right hand side to blast the ball past Raymond Jellema. Stewart volleyed home from a Brian Fairbairn free-kick and then finished off a nice move by slotting home from eight yards out to make it 3-0. Hamilton managed to get one back thanks to a good goal from Brian McPhee and if it weren't for some fine saves from keeper Steven Colgan Hamilton could well have scored a few more, but any fleeting chance of a comeback was ended by anothe goal from Walker, this time firing home a goal after a nice lay-off from substitute Grant Cunningham.

Man of the Match: Dean Walker

21st February 2004 - Berwick put to the sword

East Fife dished out another 4-1 beating today, this time Berwick the recipients at Shielfield Park. The result left the Fifers 21 points clear of third placed Berwick and 19 points clear of Forfar in second place, with promotion now looking more and more inevitable. Dean Walker bagged another brace to take his tally for the season up to nineteen goals, and Willie Stewart and Brian Fairbairn produced the other goals for East Fife in a fairly comfortable display. After the game manager Gino Dooba-Mackay declared to the gathered press that he fully expected his side to win the league and took a cheeky swipe at the pundits that had written off East Fife's chances at the start of the season. He also told his players that they had 5 more games to complete the challenge he had set for them, and win promotion before the 10th April.

MoM: Dean Walker

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As the teams profile was growing so too was the manager's. Since turning down the job offer from Stenhousemuir, Dooba-Mackay had received no fewer than 4 more job offers. Alloa, Ayr, Luton Town and Colchester United had all expressed an interest in having Mackay as the manager of their club, and although he was flattered by this attention, he turned the job offers down. The hardest one for him to turn down was Colchester, being his hometown club. He had thought long and hard about accepting that job, as they were languishing in the relegation zone in Division 2 but only 4 points behind with 13 games to go. He felt he could keep them up and take it from there, but decided to reject the offer. Right club, wrong time he thought to himself and got on with the task of taking East Fife up a division. His monopoly on the Manager of the Month award continued, as did East Fife's stranglehold on the Player and Young player of the Month awards, Brian Blair retaining his award and Willie Stewart picking up the Player of the Month award, his first of the season. For the game against Alloa, Dooba-Mackay maintained his recent policy of mixing up the team in order to maintain the freshness and hunger, bringing Jonathan Brain and Jimmy Rae back into the starting lineup, and a 4-0 victory showed the decision had paid off, with Rae scoring the last of the four goals with a sumptuous left-foot free kick. Brian Fairbairn continued his rich vein of scoring form too, scoring two goals to take his tally up to eight goals from only ten starts.

Scottish 2nd Division - 28/2/2004

East Fife 4-0 Alloa

Goals: B Blair '2, B Fairbairn '26 '37, J Rae '75

MoM: B Fairbairn

Attendance: 1724 - New Bayview

GK: J Brain

DR: I Chalmers (>> C Lumsden '88)

DC: C Hendry ©

DC: R Currie

DL: B Duncan

MR: W Stewart

MC: B Blair

MC: C Miller

ML: J Rae

FC: D Walker (>> K Deuchar '75)

FC: B Fairbairn

(Subs- S Colgan (GK), C Lumsden, C Hargreaves, C McMillan, K Deuchar)

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It had been a good few weeks for East Fife. Since their unbeaten run had come to an end at the hands of Forfar the team had won their last five on the bounce with some fantastic, goal packed performances along the way. Manager Dooba-Mackay's challenge to his players seemed to have given them a new freshness and focus, and he had slightly altered the training sessions to make them more light hearted and fun but at the same time conducive to team-building. He had given them a day off in the middle of the week and taken them paintballing in an attempt at keeping morale and team spirit high. It was a good day out he felt even though Kenny Deuchar had fired a paintball that hit the gaffer in the neck causing a painful bruise. Dooba-Mackay had joked that it was the best shot Deuchar had produced all season, but it was all in good humour and the day went well. The only real problem in the squad at the moment was Dooba-Mackay's relationship with assistant manager Craig Robertson. His contract was soon up and negotiations had broken down, with Robertson seeking a higher wage. Gino felt that he wasn't really even worthy of the wage he was on at present and decided to withdraw negotiations, informing Robertson he was surplus to requirements at the end of the season, certainly as assistant manager. He planned to revamp the coaching staff in the summer if he could clinch promotion, as at present the coaching resources were woeful and certainly not good enough for where he wanted the club to be.

There was a feel-good factor at New Bayview at the moment, and the Friday before the home game against Stenhousemuir Dooba-Mackay had been in a music shop in Methil when a man of about sixty years approached him to congratulate him on a superb first season. The man told Gino that he had been to every game for the past 38 years, although recently he had had to reduce the amount of away games he was attending, mainly due to health and financial reasons. Dooba-Mackay always had time for genuine fans, being a bit of a trainspotter himself before he had got the East Fife job; indeed he may not ever have got into management if it weren't for his determination to go to as many football grounds as he could. He thanked the man, who was with his grandson, and gave them both an autograph and free tickets for the Stenhousemuir game to their delight. He realised it was a tight-knit community in Methil and wanted to get involved in projects around the town as well as being an approachable figure. It was their football club after all, he was there to serve them and he wanted to do it the right way.

On the day of the game he felt confident. He had named a strong line-up and had ordered them to do the business and get the ball down the flanks when possible for crosses to the front two. The game began tightly, neither side giving too much away and a lot of tackles flying in, especially in the centre of midfield. Gradually though East Fife began to assert themselves and play some good football, and when Dean Walker gave them the lead after good work down the left hand side involving Chris Hargreaves and Bobby Duncan, Dooba-Mackay sensed the floodgates would open. And that they did. 2 minutes later it was 3-0. After Willie Stewart had scored a tap-in from a rasping right-footed shot by Jimmy Rae that was palmed straight into Stewart's path, Brian Blair then scored what would go on to be Goal of the Month with a magnificent 30 yard effort that flew into the top right hand corner like a rocket. From here East Fife went from strength to strength and after 2 goals from Brian Fairbairn, Blair wrapped up the scoring with almost a carbon copy of his first goal, another 30 yard effort that flew past the keeper. At the final whistle the fans went beserk as they began to sense that promotion was now almost secure. Dooba-Mackay ran onto the pitch at the end to clap the fans and embrace the carnival atmosphere, and as he did so he caught sight of Mike, the old man he had met in the music shop, with his grandson on his shoulders. Dooba-Mackay smiled at them and punched the air with glee and Mike gave him a big smile and a wave. In that moment Dooba-Mackay felt accepted in Methil, and sensed strongly that promotion was now a certainty for East Fife.

Scottish 2nd Division - 6/3/2004

East Fife 6-0 Stenhousemuir

Goals: D Walker '40, W Stewart '41, B Blair '43 '69, B Fairbairn '57 pen'64

MoM: B Blair

Attendance: 1725 - New Bayview

GK: J Brain

DR: I Chalmers

DC: C Hendry ©

DC: R Currie

DL: B Duncan

MR: W Stewart (>> C McMillan '61)

MC: B Blair

MC: C Hargreaves

ML: J Rae

FC: D Walker (>> G Love '72)

FC: B Fairbairn

(Subs- S Colgan (GK), C Lumsden, C Miller, C McMillan, G Love)

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Gino Dooba-Mackay went into his drinks cabinet and poured himself a large whisky. He had always been fond of Scottish whisky on the rocks, but as he sat back in his leather chair and swallowed the first swig of this glass there was an extra taste behind it. It was the crisp taste of satisfaction. The sweet taste of success. The fulfilling flavour of promotion. Earlier that day East Fife had beaten Aidrie United 2-1 at the Excelsior Stadium to confirm their position as Champions of the Scottish 2nd Division. The previous week's 2-2 draw at Dumbarton had sealed promotion, but today was the day they were crowned champions. In his first ever season in management, Gino Dooba-Mackay had gone against all the odds, and indeed all the pundits, and taken lowly East Fife, only just promoted from the Scottish 3rd Division, to promotion. It hadn't really fully sunk in yet and he needed teletext to repeatedly confirm the fact to him, but whenever he looked at the headline of the Scottish lower league section of ceefax on p384, a broad smile came over his face. He had done it.

It had been a fairly exhausting but brilliant day, and he had hung his suit jacket and shirt on the radiator to dry as they were both soaked- covered both in the champagne that was in full flow in the dressing room after the game, and water from when the players had thrown him into the team bath. He didn't care though and took part in the post-match fun and games, downing champagne whenever he got the chance, after completing all the post match interviews of course. He was proud of his players and on the coach on the way home he expressed how delighted and proud he was of their efforts through the course of the season, congratulating them also for completing the challenge of winning promotion within 8 games almost a month early. As he sat in his chair he laughed to himself when thinking of the reaction of the few hundred away fans that had made the journey to Airdrie during the lap of honour at the final whistle, embracing each other and the players as if they had won the world cup. These were good times he thought to himself, and he wanted to savour them. The phone rang. It was Gordon Dow, Dooba-Mackay's friend and Chairman of the club.

'Hey there Gino. Just rang to congratulate you on a magnificent first season... I always thought you'd do well in management.'

Dooba-Mackay thanked Dow, and they agreed to have a celebratory dinner the next day. The praise had been coming in from all quarters, and Gino was delighted when his old friend Reginald got in touch to congratulate him as well. They had a long chat and it turned out that Reginald was soon to be paying a visit to his sister in Glasgow, so they arranged to meet up in a few weeks time and relive good times old and new. Dooba-Mackay would look forward to having the chance to catch up with his old friend, but for now he just wanted to enjoy the moment. He took a swig of whisky and swung his chair round to the tv putting it to ceefax p384. East Fife crowned Champions of Scottish 2nd Division read the headline. It was starting to sink in.

-----------------

Scottish 2nd Division - 20/3/2004

Airdrie Utd 1-2 East Fife

Goals: D Walker '29, B Blair '32 J Vareille '70 (Airdrie)

MoM: D Walker

Attendance: 1530 - Excelsior Stadium

GK: S Colgan

DR: I Chalmers

DC: C Hendry ©

DC: R Currie (>> G McCheyne '65)

DL: J Ovenstone

MR: W Stewart

MC: B Blair

MC: C Miller

ML: J Rae

FC: D Walker

FC: B Fairbairn (>> G Love '65)

(Subs- J Brain (GK), G McCheyne, G Cunningham, G Gilbert, G Love)

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Destiny can weave a fine, intricate web. Chance, fate, destiny, whatever you want to call it, is an abstract concept but one that shapes lives. If Reginald and I had never gone to see East Fife play that night the chances are I wouldn't be here. I'd probably be sitting at home watching Sky Sports News and dreaming of life as a football journalist, my early ambition during the years when one is supposed to pick a career path. As it panned out, I am now the Manager of the Year in the Scottish 2nd Division, and have turned East Fife's fortunes around at least temporarily. The fans were looking forward to their moment in the sun, otherwise known as the dizzy heights of the Scottish 1st. Partick Thistle had been relegated and while they were not the most glamorous club in the world, they were glamorous enough for our fans to look forward to what they feel will surely be a brief time in the division. At this moment in time I am not sure, but I have time now to mull it over in my head whilst I wait for the flight to land. The stewardess hands me a beef and mustard sandwich and a sprite and I flick the table down from the chair in front of me to rest my drink on.

My meeting with Gordon Dow hadn't been as fruitful as I could have hoped. We had discussed our ambitions for the club and to my dismay it appeared I was the only one looking further up than the Scottish First Division. His lack of ambition and contentedness at where we had got ourselves shocked and upset me somewhat as I felt we were perhaps not pulling together in the same direction. The same thing applied to both my assistant manager Craig Robertson and my reserve coach Gordon Russell. Both had been released from their contracts now as we parted company based on wage issues and also the feeling that I no longer trusted their judgement or indeed character. We were now down to only one single coach aside from myself, and reinforcements were very necessary. I had told Dow this and he had encouraged me to appoint some new members of staff, for the right price of course. We certainly needed some fresh impetus for our onslaught on the first division. I had been fairly happy with our end to a magnificent season. After the Airdrie game that clinched the title we had slipped up in our next game, losing away to Hamilton 1-0. They were in good form at the time and went on to finish third so there was no disgrace in losing, particularly as the players had maybe taken their eye off the ball due to the celebrations that had gone on most of the week prior to that game. From our last 5 games we took 13 points which pleased me and showed our ability in the squad was too much for the division, as in those final games I had given several reserve and fringe players what I considered their final chance to show me if they had what it took to step up a level. Only a few really stood out, Grant Cunningham in centre midfield and Greig MacDonald both took full advantage of their chances, particularly Greig in centre defence, whose performances made me realise I should have not had him loitering in the reserves for the majority of the season like I did. Chris Hargreaves had finally scored his 1st goal for us in the penultimate game, a 2-0 victory at home to Berwick, but in general he had had a poor season and did not prove to be a great buy- I would consider selling him in the coming weeks. Other than that, I had brought in a new player in the last week of the season, 19 year old centre midfielder Alex Walker had been released by Rangers and I snapped him up, feeling that we would need some strength in depth for next season. The final table showed us a good 20 points ahead of 2nd place Forfar and I was pleased with the margin. The final table was as follows:

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">

Pos Team Pld Won Drn Lst G.D. Pts

1st East Fife 36 26 8 2 +60 86

2nd Forfar 36 18 12 6 +32 66

3rd Hamilton 36 16 8 12 +9 56

4th Morton 36 15 10 11 +19 55

5th Berwick 36 15 8 13 +3 53

6th Airdrie Utd 36 13 8 15 -6 47

7th Alloa 36 11 9 16 -4 42

8th Arbroath 36 8 10 18 -28 34

9th Stenhousemuir 36 7 8 21 -24 29

10th Dumbarton 36 6 9 21 -61 27

</pre>

Full Record - East Fife: Played 36 - Won 26 - Drawn 8 - Lost 2 - Goals For 83 - Goals Against 23 - Goal Difference +60 - Points 86

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'I really am very sorry,'

said the man in the seat next to me in broken but fluent English, wiping my trouser leg with a tissue. As we had gone through a brief moment of turbulence he had emerged startled from his sleep and knocked over his cup of water, which had spilled down my trouser leg. I assured him it was no problem and not to worry too much. He had a Spanish or Portuguese sounding accent, and being on a flight to Edinburgh from Portugal I enquired as to where he was from and his occupation. Plane journeys are always boring I find, and I've never been one to sit next to someone and pretend like they don't exist so the opportunity to kill some time and indulge in conversation was quite welcome. The abstract notion of what some may call destiny or chance, it is up to the reader to decide his own opinion on this complicated matter, once again reared its head at this point in a remarkable sequence of events. I had spent my time in Portugal visiting an ex-girlfriend whom I remained very fond of. It was a welcome break from Methil and the rigours of lower league Scottish football and I had thoroughly enjoyed it. We were still close friends despite the split and indeed I also knew her brother well, being a football man himself. He had played for Lourinhanense as a right back in the past and another aspect of my relationship with that family that I still held dear was in the hours spent watching and debating football in the various bars and stadia that Portugal had to offer with him. Indeed part of my visit to Portugal was to watch a few lower league games with her brother, and being a registered member of Uefa now I managed to get him and myself tickets for the Portuguese Cup Final between Sporting and Leiria. Sporting won the game 2-1 and it was all round a great week in the South Coast.

So when I realised that the man I was sitting next to was Baltemar Brito, a Brazilian coach that had had spells playing with and coaching Atletico Mineiro, and had also been at the Portuguese Cup Final, we became indulged in an enthralling conversation. I had never been to Brazil but he delighted me with tales of the land that intrigued my senses and captured my imagination. He was an interesting character and I could tell by the way he spoke about the match, the state of Brazilian football and the game of football as a whole, that this was a knowledgeable and intelligent man. He was currently unemployed and was planning on heading to England to look for work after giving a speech in Edinburgh at a conference about the development of youth football and its importance to the national game. From the way he spoke it seemed he was in talks for temporary coaching roles at some clubs in England and was excited by the prospect of working again. The way in which we hit it off and the fact that I only had one coach got me thinking and I acted fast, inviting him to dinner that night. He agreed. When we got back, I made a hasty call to Gordon Dow and informed him that I had found our new assistant manager and that I needed him to meet me in Edinburgh and bring forms for a contract to be signed. The passion with which I spoke helped force his hand I think, for he too agreed to meet me and bring the paperwork. Straight away I told Baltemar that I wanted him to be my assistant manager and I went into a long spiel about the history of East Fife, outlining our achievements in the season just passed, our prospects, playing staff and ambitions. I offered him a long contract as I believed he had the necessary qualities to vastly improve our coaching staff and tried to add all the charm I could possibly manage.

Over a bottle of champagne and to my delight, Baltemar Brito, Gordon Dow and I signed the contract and ate splendidly. By the end of the meal I was full, both with wonderful food and the satisfaction of having made a real coup in signing Senor Brito up to the football club.

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Who did what in Europe this season: A look at the league and cup winners:

European Championships

Winner: Portugal

Runner-up: Turkey

UEFA Champions League

Bayern Munich

UEFA Cup

Liverpool

Scotland:

Scottish Premier League: Celtic

Scottish First Division: Raith Rovers

Scottish Second Division: East Fife

Scottish Third Division: Montrose

England:

English Premiership: Manchester United

Division 1: Millwall

Division 2: Q.P.R

Spain:

Primeral Liga: Real Madrid

France:

Ligue 1: Montpellier

Italy:

Serie A: Juventus

Portugal:

Superliga: Porto

Holland:

Eredivisie: PSV

Belgium:

First Division: Club Brugge

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Despite the fact that they call it the close season, I don't believe it to be the case, not for a football manager. For others yes, but not for people in my profession. The players had gone away now for a few weeks well earned rest and I had given them an extra week holiday as a reward for their excellent achievements last season. They have earned their rest and will probably be away now with friends and family enjoying themselves and getting refreshed ready for the rigours of pre-season. The chairman is away with his family on holiday in the Cayman Islands and he will be enjoying himself no doubt, given that the club is now in Division 1. The fans are certainly enjoying their close season, of that I am fully aware. It seems wherever I go at the moment I am greeted and thanked for the exploits of last season, and many fans have told me that their summer will be extra sweet this year especially when the fixture list is released. I am happy for them and their support makes it all worth while. But the fact still remains that I am very busy, even in this 'break' in the season.

Having tied up Baltemar Brito's contract as assistant manager, I decided to offer my ex-girlfriend's brother and good friend Luis Alegria a job on the coaching staff here at East Fife which he accepted. Last season I felt lonely at times in a completely new environment, partly due to the fact that I did not really get along with some now departed members of our coaching staff, and the opportunity to work with a good friend of mine is personally very welcome. He is a knowledgeable football man and is a fine judge of a player's ability and character, and given that at the time we were low on coaching staff I was happy to get him on board. Incidentally his decision to join us led to several more applicants for coaching jobs from Portugal for some reason, and indeed some of his friends had recently acquired their coaching badges and were influenced by him to apply to work in Methil. Baltemar and I spent some days interviewing potential candidates and eventually decided to sign two young coaches, Carlos Gomes and Joao Couto, to the staff. With Dave Gorman signing a new contract, we now had the numbers and quality I believe necessary to step up a level in terms of coaching staff. If only Dow would improve the facilities which are frankly awful. I am sure this is affecting my ability to bring players in, as when they see the facilities that are on offer here it is no wonder they opt for other clubs. On this matter there is not much I can do though as East Fife is a small club in that sense, and it will take a lot more success like last season for me to turn that around.

A manager at a club like this has to work extra hard to stay ahead of the clubs with better facilities and financial backing, and that is why I spend several hours watching local youth football in and around the Methil region, as well as keeping an eye on the players surplus to requirements at other clubs. This has led to what I believe will go on to be two very astute signings. Andrew McDonald is a seventeen year-old Scottish central midfielder who was released from his contract at Dundee. He looked good in the under19s games I had seen him in and after a long chat with Jim Duffy I decided I would give him a contract. He is a strong, determined player who is solid in the tackle and should provide options for us in that position. Eddie Forrest will also soon join us from Partick Thistle on a free transfer and I am delighted at this signing. He was no longer wanted at the then-SPL side and is a strong dedicated centre back, who at 25 years of age represents a bargain in my eyes. Several other clubs were after him but I managed to get hold of him and offer a contract when I visited Firhill Park to watch them play Hearts last season, and after some deliberation I was delighted that he decided to join. It is, as I said earlier, proving hard to attract players of a necessary calibur to improve our squad and so it looks as if I will have to persevere with the players I have at present.

Goalkeepers:

Steven Colgan did a very good job in goal for us last year, and given that it was his first season of regular first team football and he is only just 20, I was impressed by him. He is a hard worker as well, and thoroughly deserved the honour of being named in the 2nd Division Team of the Season. His backup Jonathan Brain did ok when he was called upon, but I was unhappy with his level of concentration in training sometimes. It also permeated through to some games and I am not sure about the part he will play in future. For the minute however, he remains our 2nd choice keeper.

Defence:

The defence was one of the strongest areas of the team last season, and the combination of Iain Chalmers at right back, Bobby Duncan at left back, and Ross Currie and Colin Hendry as centre backs was very successful. Colin's experience helped keep them all organised and given these were four new players at the club, they settled in and gelled excellently together. Bobby and Iain both weighed in with their fair share of assists thanks to their ability to cross and overlap when we had the ball down the flanks, which pleased me, and Colin and Ross were superb especially in defending high balls and any set-pieces. Ross and Iain were also named in the Team of the Season, with Colin on the bench in that lineup. As club captain, Colin's decision to sign a one-year contract extension was also recent good news for us although with Forrest on the way we will have healthy competition for places in that area.

John Ovenstone was a backup leftback who was effective when needed and proved a strong prospect for the future with his solid performances towards the end of the season. Greig McDonald only really came into the team when the league was already wrapped up but he made an instant impact, scoring and getting man of the match in his first game of the season. His strong performances bode well and although he is 29 he will still be part of my plans, not condemned to the reserves like he was last year. On the other hand, Graeme McCheyne did not perform very well in the few games he had as backup at centre half or right back, and I have taken the decision to transfer list him. Craig Lumsden hardly featured and is still up for loan.

Midfielders:

Chris Miller made 27 starts in centre midfield and scored three goals. Generally his performances for the club were good and having signed a new 3 year deal he will certainly be pushing a place in the first 11 next year alongside Brian Blair. In my opinion he was our best player last season, scoring 12 goals and bagging thirteen assists with an average opta rating of 7.59 from 30 starts. He was outstanding in almost every game he played and how he didn't make the Team of the Season I'll never know. He is a key part of my plans for next season and at 21 can only improve. Jimmy Rae was the main occupant of the left wing position and he weighed in with 13 assists and 4 goals from 30 starts. He is only 19 and I rested him towards the end of the season, but is a promising talent and one that will hopefully go on and improve in the 1st division. Fans favourite Willie Stewart had a brilliant season and was a joy to work with. He scored 13 goals and got 11 assists from right midfield in his 34 starts, and thoroughly deserved the accolade of 2nd Division Player of the Year. Several clubs are interested in him but he is happy to stay and Im happy to have him. A great professional.

Chris Hargreaves did not do as well as I had hoped when I forked out £4,000 for him. He scored 1 goal from his 12 starts and did not get any assists, and at 32 years of age I question his future here. He is a great lad to have around but I will have to strongly consider any offers that come in as in players like Grant Cunningham we are well covered in the midfield. Grant was not a regular, only starting eight games, but he impressed me when he played and proved a solid squad player. He has a part to play next year. Stevie Nicholas is another squad player who can play up front or on the right wing, and although he only started 2 games he did score one goal and get an assist. Northampton recently made a bid for him and I will have to consider that but I think he should stay, he offers us pace from the bench. We'll see if he is good enough at a higher level though, the same goes with left winger Gordon Gilbert who spent a large chunk of last year in the reserves, but proved an able replacement for Rae at times. He is only young and I will keep him here a while longer to develop.

Brian Kerr started the season with 2 goals on his debut but lost his place to Miller eventually, but he is only 19 and I think he will play in the reserves this year. He is physically quite weak and Baltemar and I will have him down the gym to bulk up a bit. Craig McMillan is a versatile midfielder that can play right or left wing and filled in well whenever needed, if unspectacularly. His 10 starts yielded one goal.

Strikers:

Kenny Deuchar started the season as the main man upfront and overall he bagged nine goals from 23 starts, but I was alarmed with his remarkable mid-season dip in form, which saw him lose his place in the team. At a higher level I am not sure if he is good enough, but at 23 he can still improve. He will have to. When Dean Walker came into the team, it was mainly on the premise that his aerial ability would cause teams problems. 23 goals from 27 games proved there was more to him than that and he ended up joint top scorer in the league with an opta average rating of 7.85. At 23 years of age, he has a bright future I feel. Same with Brian Fairbairn, who weighed in with 12 goals and 9 assists from 15 starts which is excellent. He too is young, but he has a cockiness about him that could see him go far, and he is a good player to have around the place. I like the cut of his jib. Gordon Love started the season as the player I thought would make things happen. Sadly this has not been the case. He scored 4 goals from 17 starts and although he is a good dribbler, his finishing is nothing short of poor. I will have to consider what part he has to play in the future of this club, as more and more I am starting to think he doesn't have the ability to succeed at a higher level despite his determination.

Overall I am happy with the defence, but I feel we need more quality both in midfield and up front if we are to progress in the 1st Division. A player who can offer us some magic would be very welcome, as would a clinical goalscorer. My studying of Icelandic football led me to a player by the name of Orri Freyr Oskarsson who I tracked all through the back end of last season to no avail, as my chairman would not provide the funds needed for the pretty reasonable wage that Oskarsson required. When Beira-Mar signed him for £3,000 I felt we had really missed out on a bargain and I will now have to look elsewhere, but that really did disappoint me. The search continues...

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Nice to see a Fife story, funny I should just notice it now, as I'm waiting for my deadline to be lifted till I can post a topic again on this forum (7 day rule et such), as I picked East Fife for my attempt at the challenge.

Good to see you're doing well, winning the second division. Looks like the entire squad was renewed between 2001 and 2003, as none of the players look familliar, and they're in Div 2, whereas I'm in Div 3 icon_biggrin.gif

Good luck icon_smile.gif

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