Do you remember the sweet advert that had a wee boy who teases an elephant in the circus parade and then eats the last Rolo? Some years later the elephant returns and smacks the full-grown man who was once the boy for teasing him the last time round. It’s all about circuses and never forgetting.
One team that tends to get forgotten when last summer is mentioned and the chaos that came about thanks to the demise of Glasgow Rangers is Dunfermline Athletic. There is no Pars fan who will forget the planning for one league and, unlike Dundee, Airdrie United and Stranraer ending up in a league below the one they felt they had the right to occupy.
Planning for all four clubs was chaotic but whilst the three newly promoted clubs have found themselves struggling at the foot of each respective table Dunfermline had to work out how to get out of the most competitive league in Scotland – the SFL Irn Bru First Division.
Jim Jeffries has them sitting third, way off the pace of Partick and Morton and the likelihood is that they will end the season in third at best. Both Livingston and Falkirk have shown that they have the football to catch them but will they have the opportunity?
Alongside the fall into the SFL has come the issues with income that have led to a share issue – postponed – wages – delayed – and fan’s anger – neither postponed nor delayed. Players, before getting thumped 4-1 at home to league leaders Morton had made public their desire to formally complain about the lack of wages and who could blame them? They have mouths to feed and bills to pay and one would imagine that Dunfermline are hardly paying thousands per week as wages. John Yorkston does not strike you as the type.
The Pars have been here before and under Jimmy Calderwood they had a cup run under the cloud of “cash flow crises”. This time round the Board have eschewed the idea that there will be administration or liquidation likely as a result of what has been happening. Unlike Rangers and the Jambos the money owed is not to the taxman but fellow sitting and past directors. The average Dunfermline fan will probably be asking why these diehard Pars fans don’t just write the debt off. Mind you like Hearts and Rangers this has all the elements of a circus.
Ring master John Yorkston has been with the club for as long as I can remember and will no doubt be hoping that the share issue allows wages to be paid and the reputation of the club to be repaired. The lions in the dressing room are looking to lion tamer Jim Jeffries to be part magician and avoid joining the clowns as they try to salvage a season that has not been one of their best.
Right at the beginning of it Jim Jeffries was quick to tell us that we should not be expecting too much from a makeshift side that had been put together without knowing where they would be playing. August was a month in which they managed two wins out of three though the die was cast early as the one loss was at home to Thistle.
September, by now out both the Ramsdens and the Scottish Communities League Cup was an absolute cracker – 12 points out of 12 points. Crisis? What crisis? Dunfermline managed 6 wins out of 7 league games. As they progressed into October they kept scoring (7 goals in 3 games) but they drew two out of the three played. They then hit December with 2 losses – a bad one – 5-1 against Thistle at Firhill as well as a defeat at the Braidwood Motor Home Stadium. They ended November with a morale boosting 4-0 win against the team at the foot of the table; Dumbarton.
Roll on December? How about forget it? 1 point amassed out of 12 played for. Defeats by Livingston, Falkirk and Morton meant misery and a tumble off the pace at the top. January was little better and the forlorn hope that the misery and uncertainty of the summer would be lost amid the future and the new season were blitzed by the reality; Dunfermline ran out of steam mid way through. In their last 6 games they have won once. In fact in 2013 their victories have been single goal ones. The only time they have scored more than once has been in their 4-2 defeat by Cowdenbeath.
Is it therefore hard in the old style parlance of always score one goal more than the opposition to win philosophy to see where the problems lie? At least on the park? Kirk and Dargo need to score more often as Andy Barrowman is on 12 for the season. Ryan Wallace has 9 and Ryan Thomson 5 for the season so the midfielders are contributing…
Whilst Director Gavin Masterton has assured all fans that Dunfermline are solvent, the reality for Dunfermline is that, like Inverness and Falkirk before them, the drop to the First is brutal. The gates drop, the income disappears and the expectations are hyped up for a return to the SPL. For Inverness it was only a matter of a year before they were back; for Falkirk it has been longer and still they are not back. For the Pars they will hope they do not meet Dundee next season and can get their bandwagon back on track but something tells me that Jim Jeffries will be gracing First Division Press conferences again next year.