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2010/11 Season News

Walking on water

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Walking on water

PostedMay 19, 2010

It was the 31st day October, 2009. We had just beaten East Fife 2-1. My seven-year-old grandson, Olly, had been one of the Cowden mascots. I had a chat with David Hay after the game and I said to him that we seem to be on course to achieve the number one ambition of the season -- to survive as a second division club. After all, we had been preparing for life in the third division, and we had understandably had a poor start to the campaign.

Duff looked at me. He told me that the players hadn't bought into that philosophy at all. Their ambitions were much higher than simple survival in the second division; and the players believed that they could live up to their ambitions.

It's now Sunday the 16th day of May, 2010. I had come down from Orkney by boat and bus in a familiar all-day journey, during which one can sometimes lose the will to live. My daughter Fiona and my son Neil and I have come through from Glasgow by car to Central Park. We get on one of the numerous supporters’ buses which are going from Cowdenbeath to Brechin for the final day of the promotion play-offs.

As we are driven through rural Angus, dreams of glory and scenarios of doom compete with each other in our brains and in our bowels. We know this Cowden team are good enough to beat Brechin City. The team have proved that already. We are playing on their turf, though, and they'll be cheered on by a big home support. Will our boys be affected by nerves? Will they be intimidated by the presence of television cameras which are providing live pictures of the game?

In these winner-take-all scenarios, all it takes is one defensive error, or a poor decision by the referee, to decide the outcome. What if Davie Hay gets injured, and the young, untested substitute goalkeeper is thrown into the cauldron? We are aware of our own inner pleadings: please don't let it be nil-nil, with extra time and penalties! There's only so much a human heart can take.

As the minutes tick away before kick-off, one glance around the stadium shows that Stuart Juner’s tactic has paid off -- the Blue Brazil have taken over the famous Brechin Hedge. There is a sea of blue and white around the tidy ground. There seems to be many more Cowden fans than Brechin supporters, and we are out-singing them.

Right from the kick-off, our boys show their determination. They are defending from the front, and tackling like men possessed. We hold our corporate breath as Charlie King's shot cannons off the bar. Paul McQuade hits the woodwork at the other end.

Cowden legend Toorie and Darren McGregor are starting to win the midfield battles. The front men are lively, and every time we go upfield at pace, we look like causing damage. The Brechin central defenders cannot handle Gareth Wardlaw and Paul McQuade. Scott McBride and “Frankie” Fairbairn have the measure of the home fullbacks.

Then, it happens. In 17 minutes, Scott McBride whips in a corner and inspirational skipper Mbu’s downward header nestles in the right-hand corner of the goal. “When the sun shines on the cowshed…” sings the blue and white choir.

That feels better. Soon we are two up. Scott McBride whips in a cross from the right, the Brechin keeper can only palm the ball out and Gareth Wardlaw puts it in the net.

At the other end, Rory McAllister races away from Joe Mbu but big Joe, with his right foot, somehow manages to nip the ball away. If he had got his timing wrong, it would have been a red card. David Hay makes a brilliant save to put a netbound shot past his right post. John Armstrong is as solid as a rock at the back as Brechin try to salvage something from the game.

Manager Danny Lennon had joked earlier: “We’d like to be either 2-0 or 4-0 up at half-time". This was a reference to Cowden being three goals up against both Brechin and Stirling, but ending up with 3-3 draws. As the clock moves to half-time, 2-0 seems the right score. But right on the stroke of half-time, Scott Linton - surely one of the players of the year - sends over a great ball which Gareth Wardlaw leaps high to power into the net.

3-0 after all!

Surely Cowden couldn't lose another three-goal lead? That was the buzz at half-time.

The fears are needless. Cowden close down an increasingly dispirited Brechin side time and again. There isn't a failure in the Cowdenbeath ranks. Beaky, back to his tigerish best, doesn't miss a tackle. Substitutes John Dempster and young Jon Robertson put their own stamp on the game. When Rory McAllister hits the side net when through on goal, the game is over.

When the final whistle goes, the fans go on to the park to celebrate with the players. This has been a fantastic achievement, especially given the off-field problems which threatened the club’s very existence. Danny Lennon, who has given the club to back-to-back promotions, is cheered to the echo.

David Hay gives me a bear hug, and reminds me of that conversation we had after the East Fife game. He was right. The players and the management team lived up to their own ambitions, and we, the fans, have been privileged to witness it.

Back at the social club at Central Park, and then at the Junction Bar, the celebrations are superb. What a day and night to remember! It's up there with Helicopter Saturday, 29th April 2006.

There are difficult days ahead, and we all know that. Danny Lennon was right to point out that the players and the management team have done their bit; it's now up to the owners and the fans to work together to ensure the future of Cowdenbeath FC, the club we love.

Days like this gladden the heart, and nerve the arm for the hard times to come. There is a huge bond between this team and the loyal supporters of the Blue Brazil. The spirit in the camp is fantastic -- a credit to the players and the management team and backroom staff.

We are already favourites for “the drop” next season. But as David Hay - surely one of the finest goalkeepers in Cowdenbeath FC's history - would remind us, that's what the pundits said about us last season.

I head back to Orkney on the never-ending bus. I'm smiling, though. I might try walking on water.

Ron Ferguson

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