A Cup Shock For The Ages: East Fife v Hibernian – 40 Years On

A Cup Shock For The Ages: East Fife v Hibernian – 40 Years On

Every football club has their Folklore moments. The players, the coaches, the key events and dates, both highs and lows, that have shaped the history of a football club. In amongst all that of course there’s the famous games.

It could a championship or promotion winning match, it could be a cup final win, even a cup final defeat or a relegation encounter. It could also be a game that will just live long in the memory of fans for a multitude of personal reasons. Then of course there’s cup shocks, and when you follow a small club like we do at East Fife, it’s those cup shocks and those cup games that make all the pain and heartache worthwhile, for a little bit of time at least!

And today on AFTN we’re celebrating one of those special moments, as we mark the 40th anniversary of one of the best results in East Fife Football Club’s long and illustrious history. A result that can still go down as one of the biggest Scottish Cup shocks of all time. Tuesday January 31st 1984 was the date, as Second Division East Fife shocked Premier Division Hibernian with a 2-0 victory in a Third Round Scottish Cup replay at Bayview Park in Methil.

Marshall, Clarke, Jenkins, Durie, Halley, McLaren, Hutt, Kirk, Burt, McCafferty, Pryde, Stalker, O’Brien.

Those 13 players wrote themselves in Bayview Folklore that night, in a game that will definitely still be living in the memories of those that were at it. For those younger, it’s one of those games that you will wish you had been a part of. For me, it was an even more special game because it was the very first East Fife match that I ever attended. I was immediately hooked and hardly missed any home matches in the 23 years that followed.

The Scottish Cup draw that season has seen East Fife given a first round bye, which had been followed by a 5-0 shellacking of Queen of the South at Palmerston on January 7th 1984. That set up the first meeting between East Fife and Hibs to be played three days earlier at Easter Road in Edinburgh on Saturday January 28th.

Not many people gave East Fife much of a chance in that Third Round encounter. The Bayview faithful that headed along to Easter Road that Saturday afternoon went more in hope than expectation. But they saw their black and gold heroes put in a resilient display, shutting out everything Hibs threw at them and leaving the Edinburgh giants feeling frustrated after a 0-0 draw in front of 5,683 fans. The Sunday Sun said Hibernian had “failed miserably” against the Fifers as the result set up a replay at Bayview just three days later.

Making that first game all the more special was the fact that full highlights were shown on BBC’s Sportscene that Saturday evening. The weather had decimated so much of the Scottish footballing calendar that day, leaving only four out of 14 Scottish cup ties on. With the BBC’s existing planned game cancelled, the cameras moved to Easter road to take in what they must have thought was going to be a pedestrian victory for the Premier Division side. Little did they know what was to subsequently play out.

I remember sitting at home watching the highlights that night in my bedroom. I hadn’t long turned 15-years-old and my experience of going to watch football up to that point was going to Warout Stadium to see Glenrothes Juniors with my grandad. We walked there as we didn’t have a car and my mum didn’t really want me travelling on the bus through to Methil, or anywhere, on my own!

Watching that first Hibs game though, I don’t know what it was, I just completely fell in love with East Fife that day. I went downstairs and said to my mum that I had to go to the replay. I had to get to that game. Now, back then, evening buses didn’t really run late from Glenrothes to Methil and vice versa, so I couldn’t go by public transport. So my mum asked around at her work when she went in on the Monday to see if there was anybody that would be willing to go to the game with me and take me along. A man called Tom Forbes stepped up and said yeah, I’d love to go along to that, I’ll take Michael.

I went and saw my first East Fife game. The black and gold put in a famous performance, coming away with an even more famous victory, and, for my sins, I was hooked and a Fifer for life.

I can still picture that day as if it was yesterday. The packed Bayview terraces, the noise, the smell. You could hardly move as the place was packed. With only three days turnaround, there were no tickets issued. Just turn up and pay. The good old days! The official attendance was given as 6100, but there were certainly far more than that inside Bayview that night. I’d say it was over 10,000.

Cup football under the lights still gives me goosebumps to this very day. There’s just something magical about it and that night at Bayview was certainly a magical night.

I was at the covered terracing side, a few rows from the front, about level with the 18-yard line. We were mostly surrounded by East Fife fans, but there was a good splattering of Hibernian supporters mixed in as well as it wasn’t really that well segregated, which was, on hindsight, a recipe for disaster.

The game got underway and East Fife were more than holding their own. In fact they were taking the game to their Premier visitors, with ‘Wee’ Tam McCafferty causing the Hibs defence no end of problems. Hibernian had made three changes from the first leg, with Willie Jamieson, Brian Rice, and Graham Harvey all coming into the starting 11.

The Fife pushed hard and they got their reward when McCafferty fired home the opener 15 minutes in. Ian Pryde pounced on a horrendous backpass by Hibs captain Ralph Callachan. He saw his first shot saved by Alan Rough, but he ball came back to him and he picked out the perfect square pass across goal for McCafferty to fire the Fifers in front and send Bayview into an eruption of noise. “He’s here, he’s there, he’s every fucking where. McCafferty. McCafferty.” was the chant. And indeed he was.

East Fife held their one goal lead going into half time, and really could have been further ahead with Hibs offering very little in reply. The longer the game went on you started to think, you know what, they could do this. And you could tell it wasn’t just the East Fife fans thinking this, because the Hibernian supporters were becoming increasingly restless and getting on their teams’ backs.

Hibs enjoyed more of the ball in the second half, but East Fife weren’t allowing them to do anything with it and it was the black and gold who were carving out the better chances, with Rough forced to make a couple of important saves to keep his side in the game.

East Fife were still ahead in the closing minutes and won a corner with nine minutes remaining. Gordon Durie swung the corner into the box and Stevie Kirk rose magnificently to bullet home a header, giving East Fife a two-goal lead and sending Bayview into raptures.

As the Fife fans celebrated, the Hibs supporters were apoplectic, with abuse, scarves, and bottles flying down onto the pitch and scuffles breaking out on the terracing.

Referee Hugh Williamson soon blew the final whistle and East Fife had done it, pulling off a famous victory and a massive cup shock.

East Fife player-manager Davie Clarke was naturally cock-a-hoop after the match. Others may have given his team little chance, but he always believed they had what it took to get the win.

“After the first match on Saturday, I said Hibs were there to be beaten, and we weren’t scared of them,” Clarke told media after the match. “That is the way it proved, and I thought we played better tonight than we did at Easter Road. I am very proud of the team, who played so well and fought hard.”

Hibs manager Pat Stanton on the other hand was raging.

“I expected a lot more from my experienced players, but they let me down,” Stanton told media after the match. “Obviously I am very, very disappointed, but I can have no complaints about the result. It was obvious that the East Fife players wanted to win the game, while some of my men weren’t sure.

“If I was a fan who had travelled to see our display I would have been angry. I have seen Hibs sides play worse, but I can’t remember when over two games in a row.”

This was no bad Hibs side. They finished the season 7th in the Premier and had a string of top players and former internationals on their team.

A couple of players in this match actually went on to swap teams. Hibs defender Alan Sneddon finished his career as an East Fife player in the mid 90’s, winning promotion with the team under Stevie Archibald, and Hibs were so impressed by Gordon Durie that they signed the 19-year-old to play from them the next season.

The win set up a Fourth Round encounter with Celtic, who came to Bayview on February 18th. East Fife did a fantastic bit of business with the tickets where you could only get your ticket for the Celtic game if you also paid in and came through the turnstiles for the next home league game against Stenhousemuir on February 4th (which they lost 1-0), leading to a bumper crowd of 2,573. Great stuff by Chairman Jim Baxter, three huge home crowds in a row, although a number of fans paid, got their Celtic ticket, and then immediately left!

The Celtic game was the East Fife players’ cup final. Sadly there’s not always a fairytale ending and East Fife went down to a 6-0 defeat in front of 10,000 fans. Match highlights were broadcast on STV on Sunday afternoon, the first time a game had been broadcast from Bayview since the early 60s.

This was an East Fife team that were certainly one of the best, if not the best, in my lifetime of watching East Fife. The Davie Clarke mid 80s era was a fantastic time for the club. They got promotion that 1983/84 season. After four straight defeats following the Hibernian heroics (three in the league and one in the cup), they lost only one of their last 13 matches, finishing of the season with six straight wins and earning promotion to the First Division, falling just short of promotion to the Premier Division two seasons later.

All of those players in that victory over Hibs definitely deserve to go down in Bayview folklore. They were some of the best players to pull on the black and gold shirt in the modern era. Well I say modern era. It feels an age away now.

40 years on you look back at that game and wonder when will we see the likes of that again? There’s been a couple of good results since in the cups, and of course a couple of championships and promotions, but right now we feel a long way away from those heady days.

I still think back to that night 40 years ago and how it made me an East Fife supporter to this very day. If only we had it on video, then we could all re-live the magic all over again. Black and Gold legends. One and all.

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Authored by: GoF

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