LIBERATING FOOTBALL TRAVEL

East Fife

Four trophy wins for the Fifers of Bayview Stadium

A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today

Winning their four major honours either side of World War II, East Fife bowed out of the top flight on the eve of the European era and have since battled away in the lower tiers.

Based in Methil but representing the wider Fife coast community of Levenmouth, the club moved from Bayview Park to new-build Bayview Stadium in 1998 and retain a solid and loyal fan base.

Formed in 1903 when Methil was a busy port serving thriving surrounding mining communities, the Fifers played in the Northern and Central Leagues before joining the Scottish League in 1921. 

They soon became knock-out specialists, winning through to the Scottish Cup final in 1927, a 3-1 defeat to Celtic, then again in 1938, beating Kilmarnock after a replay and extra-time. A combined crowd of 170,000-plus saw both games at Hampden, the Fifers edging past twice previous winners Killie 4-2.

East Fife offices/Natália Jánossy

Already ahead of Fife rivals Dunfermline, Raith and Cowdenbeath in the trophy stakes, East Fife hit their peak soon after the war with the arrival of Scot Symon as manager. A Scottish cap as a player, this later long-term manager at Rangers started his coaching career at Bayview Park, gaining the club promotion to the top flight and winning the League Cup in his first season. 

Although the competition had only been introduced the previous year, it still brought 50,000-plus to Hampden for the final with Falkirk. A hat-trick from Davie Duncan, a prolific left-winger due to play a key role during this golden era, sealed the replay 4-1.

Two years later, the Fifers returned, overcoming Rangers 2-1 in the semi-final and facing Dunfermline at Hampden. Symon could field what was arguably the finest line-up in the club’s history, with Duncan on one wing, Bobby Black on the other, and Charlie Fleming and Allan Brown as inside-forwards. With three Scottish caps in the forward line, East Fife rolled over their near neighbours 3-0.

Original ball, 1938 Scottish Cup Final/Natália Jánossy

The same season, the Fifers finished above Celtic, Dundee and Aberdeen in the league, surpassing fourth place with third two years running. By then Brown had already left for Blackpool, only to miss out on the Matthews Final through injury. Symon followed suit and went south to Preston.

East Fife’s last hurrah was another League Cup win in 1953-54, Fleming hitting one of three goals that sank Partick Thistle 3-2.

A gradual decline matched that of the local coal industry. Under player/manager and Hibs legend Pat Quinn, East Fife regained top-flight status, even finishing ninth in 1973, but neither 1950s’ Fifers’ stalwart Frank Christie nor Steve Archibald could then bring back the glory days.

The construction of a new stadium in 1998, beside the moribund docks, boosted local morale – by then there was little in Methil but East Fife FC. 

East Fife offices/Natália Jánossy

Success on the pitch eventually came under David Baikie, who took the Fifers to the promotion play-offs in 2007, then won the Third Division title as early as mid-March a year later. With an eventual points margin of 23 over Stranraer, Baikie’s side romped home and regularly attracted four-figure crowds once in the higher flight.

After Baikie moved on, East Fife stayed safely mid-table in the third tier until 2013, when a dramatic series of play-off games kept the Fifers afloat. First, a 119th-minute volley by Liam Gormley allowed East Fife to overcome Berwick at Bayview, then a solitary strike from David Muir put paid to favourites Peterhead after a goalless draw in Methil.

A year later, East Fife’s luck ran out. Taking Clyde to penalties thanks to an 85th-minute goal from Kevin Smith, the Fifers kept their nerve during a ding-dong shoot-out that finished 7-6 in their favour. Beating Stirling Albion in the away leg of the play-off final, East Fife looked home and dry and until a late aggregate winner in front of 1,500 at Bayview buried the hosts.

Bayview/Natália Jánossy

Back in the fourth tier in 2014-15, East Fife lacked the stamina to overcome Stenhousemuir after extra-time in the play-off semi-final. Keeping faith with one-time Everton favourite Gary Naysmith as manager, East Fife won the League Two title in 2016, a third of their goals coming from Nathan Austin.

Naysmith gave way to Barry Smith halfway through the 2016-17 campaign, eventually enabling ex-Aberdeen midfielder Darren Young to keep East Fife afloat in League One until the miserable campaign of 2021-22.

Under one-time stalwart East Fife defender Greig McDonald, the Fifers sought a swift return to the third tier but were nudged out of the play-off semi-final by Clyde after extra-time. Just off the pace in 2023-24, McDonald bowed out in February, allowing Dick Campbell to try and work the same miracles at Bayview as he had done for so many years at Arbroath.

ground Guide

The field of dreams – and the story behind it

Neat, compact and comfortable, East Fife’s Bayview Stadium consists of a single seated stand of 2,000 capacity that runs along the south sideline. The other three sides are empty but for advertising hoardings. Visiting supporters gather towards one end of the main stand, away from the winds that whip off the North Sea beyond the east goal.

For 2017-18, its carefully patterned turf was ripped up and a 3G pitch installed in its place – a memorial game with the Third-Division title-winning team of 2008 marked the occasion. In a more recent development, the ground took the name of the MGM Timber Bayview Stadium after a sponsorship deal in 2023.

getting here

Going to the ground – tips and timings

As of June 2024, travellers to Leven can take a direct train from Edinburgh Waverley to its new station, just over the water from Bayview a 10min walk away. Services will run hourly.

To get to Methil by bus, first head to Kirkcaldy. From Stance 1 at Kirkcaldy bus station in the town centre, Stagecoach bus 7 takes 50mins to reach Methil, and Bayview Stadium, running every 30mins until late in the evening.

Bus 7 actually sets off from Dunfermline bus station, overall journey time to Methil, 2hrs 20mins.

A taxi from Kirkcaldy to Methil should cost around £20-£25.

The sat nav code for the Bayview Stadium is KY8 3RW. The ground has a free and decent-sized car park.  

getting in

Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much

East Fife sell tickets online and on the day. For all enquiries, contact 01333 426 323, commercial@eastfifefc.info.

A seat in the main stand will cost you £18, £14 for over-65s, £5 for under-16s, the same price whether you’re in the home or away end along the long sideline.

what to buy

Shirts, kits, merchandise and gifts

A match-day hut operates behind the main stand, gold-and-black merchandise including bottle-opener key rings, badges, baseball caps and bar scarves.

Replica shirts come in classic yellow and black, and away, um, pink variety.

Where to Drink

Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors

The pubs on the main streets of Methil and Leven are no more than a 15min walk away.

In Methil, three hostelries closer to the ground lend themselves to pre-match imbibing. At the Bayview end of focal Wellesley Road, the Tower Bar at No.26 has been a landmark for years, its longevity denoted by the classic clock tower in question, set at a corner of the building.

Nearer the waterfront and South Street, the East Dock Bar at 242 High Street is an age-old gem, a traditional Scottish pub in business long before the new Bayview was built. Plenty of football on TV, too.

Some 250 metres closer to the ground at No.172, the Brig Tavern sits in a distinctive white building, looking all the better for a revamp in early 2024. Big-screen sport, pool, darts and a beer garden all feature.

At the ground, home and away fans are welcome at the supporters’ bar in the main stand that overlooks the pitch. There’s another bar upstairs, part of the Jeek Fleming Suite, which displays the club’s great moments snapped and framed for posterity.