Cowden - Yer Tea's Oot!

By Alex Horsburgh
Last updated : 20 March 2008

Blue Brazil Manager Brian Welsh has not endeared himself to Cowdenbeath's small but loyal band of followers recently with comments that the support "should take the blinkers off and realise that a second successive season surviving in the Second Division is an achievement in itself."

Mr Welsh claims he knows the fans are giving him stick but he might not have been aware of the fact that Cowden have not gone more than two seasons in a higher division after promotion since the 1930's had it not been for the keepers of the facts- the fans.

Mr Welsh may yet be forced to eat his words because after Tuesday's home defeat it looks as if Cowden might be staring two crucial play-off games in the face to preserve their Div 2 status won in 2005/6 when Welsh's managerial predecessor Mixu Paatalainen guided Cowden to their first divisional title of any kind since 1939.

Let's not mince words. Central Park is a dump and only the most starry-eyed groundhopper could see merit in a stadium that has more to do with Stock Car Racing than football these days and was built (1917) in the more optimistic football era of between the end of the First World War and prior to the 1930's depression. The local burghers in the Fife town blocked plans for a new stadium for Cowden recently in their bid to preserve an old-fashioned notion that the traditional High Street shop (on its way out anyway) would suffer locally if a Supermarket Chain, thought to be Tesco, built on the site of Central Park thus providing the cash for the football club to build a 3,000 seater community stadium at the south end of Cowdenbeath.

You can't totally blame the scuppering of ambition off the park by the local "cooncil" on events on the field of play but Cowden FC on a shoestring has always been Cowden FC at its worse and if you know your history (and this writer does) you'll know doing it on the cheap has brought about Cowden's downfall before. Deciding not to go full time after promotion to the old First Division in 1969/70 and then being relegated as bottom club in 1970/1 (the only part-time team in the league) brought about the wilderness years for the Kingdom side and then when ex-Hibs defender John Brownlie finally got them up again 22 years later he was sacked for daring to ask for a bigger budget for players after promotion.

Paatelainen always said Cowdenbeath FC was a stepping stone to higher things so there was never any chance of the now-Hibs boss being a victim of cost-cutting. He got out when the going was good and returned to his native Finland to boss TPS Turku. However, he sure did a lot while he was at Central Park and is now proving a very hard act to follow.

Current manager Welsh's insistance on sitting back and defending leads after they have been achieved has proved Cowden's downfall recently but on Tuesday night Cowden never had the chance to close ranks. The Fifers went ahead from a John Dempster penalty (17) but straight from the kick off Stuart Kettlewell spotted the wandering Dave Hay off his line and fired a rocket from just behind the half-way line over the home goalie's head for a goal that was better than Beckham's famous strike against Neil Sullivan.

That was an embarrassment for the already beleaguered Cowden support and the young home side, with ex-Hibby Danny Lennon acting as the 'auld heid' on the field of play, lost their way after half time as they buckled under a more orgainised Glasgow outfit and an angry home support who have seen it all before and far too often.

Ferry and then two penalties from Trouten made it 1-4 and Bryan Gilfillan's late strike for a final score of 2-4 Queens only came about because the visitors had their thoughts on a warm bath (why is it always so cold at Central Park during evening games?)

Cowden will now find it difficult to avoid the play-offs with the divisions top two, Ross County and Airdrie Utd, to come in the run-in and Brian Welsh's young side will have to play the games of their lives so far to avoid two make or break games at the end of the campaign. They will at least boost the final day attendance at Central Park if the 2nd Leg is in Fife and the scoreline is close. Cowden fans are already thinking about a long trip to Stranraer as they reckon with their luck that is where they will be headed.

Three final points about the surreal match-day (evening) atmosphere at Central Park which again might not change events on the park but certainly makes the club look more credible if they take on these suggestions.

1. Don't blast out boy band classics on the PA system so they can be heard for miles around and then wire up your announcers mike so it can only be heard on the stand side of Central Park (and only just).

2. Don't charge for a match programme that is actually the one from the original date of the fixture (the Cowden-Queens Park programme wished everyone MERRY XMAS). Yes, there was a small four page pull-out inside that updated team lines and both club's performances and news to 17th March but it was still a rip-off.

3. Drop the whole Blue Brazil thing including wearing a Brazil kit as your away kit the in-joke is no longer funny.

You don't need a sense of humour to support Cowdenbeath FC- but it helps, I guess.

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