Alloa Then Goodbye?
By Alex Horsburgh
Updated Wednesday, 13th February 2008
It doesn't quite have the allure of the Kincardine Bridge Derby (Falkirk v Pars) but Alloa v Cowdenbeath takes on a significant air this Saturday with the Blue Brazil now just above a relegation play-off place and The Wasps looking to get back on track after a 6-1 reverse at Ross County.
"We wuz robbed" was very much the party line when Cowdenbeath were pipped 0-1 at home by Airdrie Utd on Saturday. Fair or not that result now leaves the Fifers on the same points total as Ayr United at the wrong end of the Second Division. Berwick are bottom but now Cowden only lead Ayr on goal difference and are in danger of dropping into the dreaded relegation play-off spot despite having a game in hand on the Honest Men.
Are the fates conspiring against Cowden as they look to achieve a third consecutive season outside the basement of Scottish football? The Central Park blues have never been out of the bottom division of Scottish football for more than two seasons at a time since the 1930's but it has to be said they have had little help locally this season in their quest to achieve their own wee bit of history, you might even say the club itself have scored a public relations own goal.
The local council has put paid to the club's chances of moving to a much needed new ground at the South End of the town by blocking plans for a Superstore development on the site of Central Park, Cowden's home since 1917. This means the Blue Brazil continue to play home games in the surreal atmosphere of a stadium which is a monument to flat caps in the crowd and laced-up leather footballs on the pitch. It can hardly inspire modern day footballers at Cowdenbeath as they view other clubs, even at non-SPL level, with envious eyes .
Both manager and board at Central Park also entered the sometimes surreal world of football in Cowdenbeath recently when a statement was made without any realisation of how negative it may come across to the club's small but loyal fan base.
"Cowdenbeath Football Club prides itself in not standing in the way of players who want to move onto a higher level." Are locals meant to be impressed by that statement this writer wonders?
The average paying customer backing the Blue Brazil in 2008 might have replied: "why aren't Cowdenbeath moving onto a higher level?"
The departure of 3rd Division Championship winning boss Mixu Paatelainen to TPS Turku and then Hibs was certainly the end of a short and successful era at Cowdenbeath. However, ex-Dundee United player Brian Welsh has, to be fair, had his successes since taking over the hot-seat from Finland's finest. However, despite bringing in Dave Bingham from Gretna and Jay Shields (ex-Hibs) from Morton recently Cowden are relying on a crop of youngsters mostly to preserve their Div 2 status. Alan Hansen once famously said "you win nothing with kids"' and was proved wrong now 'Beath must prove you can survive above the relegation zone with kids and before those kids get better offers.
A club that operates on the notion that they are a shop window for the players they sign can surely only have limited success but continued Second Division football would still be accepted by Cowdenbeath FC supporters after the years spent jousting with the perennial strugglers of 'Shire, Albion Rovers, Montrose and the like.
That is why Saturday's game at the Recs takes on a "six pointer"' mantle with a hectic schedule of eight games coming up between Feb 16th and March 15th, including three back-to-back midweek fixtures for the Blue Brazil.
The club's ambition has been questioned by Cowden fans before in different eras since the halcyon days of their last top league place in season 1970/1 (the old 18 team Scottish 1st Division) and now the players currently filling the blue shirts must step up to reassure some of the most success starved fans in the UK that they at least find a return back to regular encounters at Firs Park and Cliftonhill unacceptable.
Cowdenbeath the town and Cowdenbeath the team must realise it is ok to strive for better than the club's current stadium and league position.
Ger Harley (ger@scottishfitba net)
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