The rivalry between Dunfermline and Raith Rovers was in danger of being surpassed by the Pars/Falkirk meetings of recent years, with the traditional derby lacking the aggressive edge of games between Dunfermline and the Bairns. However, just as time can create rivalries (think of the Dunfermline/Airdrie games in the 1990s), so too can it see previously despised opponents become almost like any other team. That seems to be the case with Falkirk, judging by games at the soulless Falkirk Stadium, and the muted atmosphere in comparison to the battles at old Brockville.
And so on Saturday we take on our Fife neighbours, the Wee Team, with both clubs requiring points to avoid at the very least, the relegation play-off scenario. This is in stark contrast to one of the greatest games involving the teams, back in 2011, when the Pars and Rovers were competing at the top end of what is now called the Championship. With 3 games remaining, Rovers came to East End Park and took a first half lead that put them top of the division. A second half Martin Hardie double gave Dunfermline a famous victory, and the title was won the following week. Here is the pivotal moment from that game; many Pars fans will have this as their greatest ever memory from a Dunfermline game. The game was tied at 1-1 when Hardie prepared to take a free kick. Here is the video of what happened next:
Before Sammy the Tammy was neutered by the club, he entertained fans pre-match with routines that varied from funny to cringeworthy to surreal. One of his best was against Raith at East End Park before the April 2011 game described above. Sammy can be seen in the video below, in a cardboard tank, pretending to gun down the away stand that was packed with Rovers fans. A complaint was made to the Police, who took no action, despite the local MP becoming involved, called the routine "silly and unnecessary". Personally, I thought it was a moment of genius, and given what was to follow, it contributed to a legendary day against our local rivals. Here is the video:
One of the greatest Pars victories at Stark's Park was on 29 October 1994. Bert Paton's team were top of the First Division, while Rovers were in mid-table. The game ended 5-2 to Dunfermline, with Pars winger Kenny Ward scoring twice. Here is a video of the highlights. The video quality is not tremendous but it's well worth watching, with Paton's team at the very best, full of legends such as Ian Westwater, Norrie McCathie, Andy Tod, Hamish French, Craig Robertson, Stewart Petrie and others.
Going back a further decade, Dunfermline travelled to Stark's Park on 3 January 1989 for a First Division game against Raith. A crowd of 8981 saw the Pars win 3-1, with goals from Trevor Smith, Ross Jack, and a Rovers own goal. The Dunfermline team that day was:
Westwater, Burns, R. Smith, Riddell, Tierney, Beedie, T. Smith, P. Smith, Jack, Watson, Irons. Subs: Morrison, McCathie.
There have been 99 League games between Dunfermline and Raith Rovers. Dunfermline have won 41, drawn 24 and lost 34. The Pars have scored 159 goals in the 99 games, with Raith scoring 147.
The most recent meeting was the 2-0 Pars win in Kirkcaldy on 2 January this year. The edited photo below shows Paul McMullan and Kallum Higginbotham celebrating Dunfermline's second goal with the Pars fans, scored by Lee Ashcroft from a Higginbotham cross. (Photo by Pars Review, edited by www.instagram.com/thedunfermlineway/).
Saturday's game will go a long way to deciding whether there will be a Fife derby next season. For the good of both clubs, we need the derby in the fixture list, and so while Pars fans will obviously hope to win the game, few will want Raith to be relegated. That is the difference between a healthy rivalry and blind hatred, something the Glasgow giants would do well to apply.
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