East End Park - Dunfermline
Saturday September 24th, 2011
V Rangers, Premier League, 3pm
By Jim Prentice
1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):
I am not exactly sure why, but I had wanted to go to Dunfermline's East End Park for some years before the opportunity came along. I think I had probably seen the ground on the television numerous times and thought it'd be a good idea to tick it of my list. Sadly the chance of a trip was put on hold for four seasons due to the Pars' exile in the First Division, but they won promotion back to the top flight in 2011, so when my Rangers Supporters' Club decided to run a bus to East End Park I jumped at the chance.
2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?
I left Lincoln by car at something ridiculous like 4.30am to be at Knaresborough to get on the coach for 6.30am. These lunchtime kick offs mean VERY early starts for Bears living south of the border! The coach journey was pretty straightforward and I really liked going over the Forth Road Bridge - the view across the water is amazing. Before the match we were dropped off about half a mile from the ground to go for a swift pint.
3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?
We went to a pub called the Elizabethan on Halbeath Road. It seemed well equipped for large crowds, with spacious insides with a large bar and pool tables along with a fair-sized patio area to the rear, and had a nice mix of home and away supporters. I had a brief chat with a couple of Dunfermline fans who were pretty friendly - a nice surprise given that most SPL fans won't give you the time of day if you support one half of the Old Firm!
4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?
We walked the short distance along Halbeath Road towards the ground - it was like the 'good old days' before out of town stadia started popping up everywhere because we just followed the sight of the floodlights! Our seats were situated in the North Stand, at the side of the pitch. Rangers fans shared half of this stand with the home supporters, and were also allocated the East Stand behind the goal and a couple of blocks of the Main Stand, so we were well represented as always.
What struck me about East End Park is how they have retained a nice mix of 'old and new' since redeveloping the ground in the 1990s. The East and Norrie McCathie stands (behind the goals) are smart, steep affairs that offer a good view of the pitch and are not dissimilar to the 'behind the goal' stands at Kilmarnock. The Main Stand is a proper, old-fashioned design that has worn well over the years. The seating in the North Stand is quite shallow and is home to the television gantry, while the concourse runs directly behind the last row of seats and is not partitioned off from the main seated area. It is looking quite tired and the toilets in particular could do with a bit of a refurb, but all in all I was very impressed with a ground that has a lot of character without being totally out of step with modern times.
5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, toilets etc...
As mentioned, the toilets in the North Stand weren't great, but the pies more than made up for it! There was a bit of banter with between the home and away fans in the North Stand and the Rangers fans sang constantly throughout the game. The home fans were rather quiet for the duration but tried to rouse their side when they made the odd foray into Rangers' half.
A the time, Rangers were in a rich vein of form having won every match away from Ibrox since the season started. They picked up from where they had left off in their previous match when Carlos Bocanegra headed home from a corner after just eight minutes, before Mo Edu doubled the lead with a cracking low shot from the edge of the area on 16. The rest of the first half was relatively dull, with Rangers just containing the home side.
After the break, the Gers looked like they really mean business and Steven Naismith made it 3-0 six minutes in following a barnstorming run - I was still queuing for a pie when he scored! Rangers played really well in the second half and could have scored a bag full, but in the end found the net just one more time, Naismith grabbing his second nine minutes from time. In the end, it was a commanding display as the Gers ran out 4-0 winners.
6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:
Supporters' buses were parked just outside of the North Stand and we got away pretty quickly after the match, with no incidents of note. The journey home was lengthy but easy enough, with another trip over the the sun-drenched Firth of Forth to savour. I did note that there are two railway stations very close to the stadium that are served by Edinburgh Waverley and Haymarket, so fans travelling by train should be able to get to East End Park with no difficulty.
7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:
Overall, a cracking day out and yet another ground visited. East End Park is a really good ground to go to and I would recommend it to anyone who hasn't been. Of course, this was helped by the scoreline and the glorious sunshine, but so often I have been looking forward to visiting a stadium but have left disappointed; thankfully, this was not one of those occasions..
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