Living the Livingston Dream

Date: 25th May 2019

By Donald C Stewart

For many fans the holy grail tends to be the Premier League. Never mind if it is in England or Scotland, getting into the top division is the place most will want to be. It can though be a long time in the preparation, host a number of false dawns and then when you get there, become a fleeting moment after which reality kicks in and the slide begins.

Winning the championship or getting in through the playoffs is a glorious season for many fans. Winning anything for teams that are often far from used to that winning feeling is one thing like the opportunity for a cup courtesy of something like the Irn Bru Cup but managing to beat those teams around you of a similar size, similar budget and on a relatively equal playing field is of great value to the terraces.

Of course, for fans of “lower league clubs” a decent cup run which, if it includes beating a club with a bigger tradition, budget or support then managing second place during the season? Of such things a great season can also be made.

Promotion is, for many, the beginning of the end of the tale and for supporters getting into the Premiership can end up one of two ways.

A Hamilton that romps to the top and makes their first few months seem like the extension of a dream or …

A Gretna where a step up comes with a step down to ground sharing and impending doom.

Fans of many clubs can struggle to see where their triumphs may be lurking and often it comes just before and just after a disaster. I remember that Stirling Albion under Allan Moore was once described as a yo yo club but there is one group of fans whose experience has been so extreme that I am surprised there is not a yo yo on their club crest. Of all the teams in the SPFL that can divide opinion on opposition terraces, enter the Lions…

They began as Ferranti Thistle, became Meadowbank Thistle and then settled out of Edinburgh and in Livingston. People sneered because they were like a franchise team.

You then throw in a stadium, bizarre owners that did nothing to endear themselves  to their fans or the club to the rest of football’s fandom and we have a conundrum that sits uneasily for many opposition fans BUT the fact is that as fans we have to have mutual respect for people who have suffered the rollercoaster nature of: –

  • Promotion to the Premier league after 6 seasons in existence
  • A UEFA cup place in their first season in the Premier League
  • A short spell with a Brazilian manager
  • A league cup triumph under David Hay
  • Administration in 2004
  • A takeover that saw Hay sacked and Alan Preston in, which did not end well
  • Flirting with Scottish footballing legends Gough, Lambert and Robertson
  • Relegation with the second worst SPL season – after Gretna who came up much later due to a 10 point deduction and administration, again
  • An Italian takeover
  • Another Scottish footballing legend, Hegarty not getting them out of trouble
  • Back into administration, thanks to the Court of Session in Edinburgh
  • Revelations of potential liquidation
  • Angelo Massone… Just Angelo Massone
  • Relegation to the Third Division
  • An administrator of the club calling the demotion, “the death knell of the club”
  • April 2010 – Third Division Champions
  • April 2011 – Second Division Champions
  • 2010/11 season – deducted 5 points by the SFL for failing to pay tax on player bonuses
  • Former director, Ged Nixon tries to freeze the club’s assets over a debt he claimed was £3000,000
  • April 2015 Nixon loses his court case
  • 2014 -15 Win the Challenge Cup
  • 2014 -15 season the great escape and no relegation…
  • 2015 -16 Relegation to League One
  • April 2017 League One Champions
  • April 2018 Championship playoffs
  • May 2018 Promotion to the Premier League
  • May 2019 managed to achieve 9th pace in their first year back in the Premier League

Some clubs take decades to annoy, delight and frustrate their fans to that extent!

With the close season upon us Livingston fans are now watching their Twitter feeds with an eye cast towards Europe. Not because they have qualified to once again grace a Euro tournament but because the club are literally leaving no Euro stone unturned for a new recruit to push them beyond 9th next year. Reports emanating from the Livingston say they are looking as far afield as the French lower leagues and top divisions including Poland, Belgium and Greece. They are no stranger to getting some decent purchases in Europe with midfielder Steve Lawson coming from Swiss second tier outfit Neuchatel Xamax in August 2018.

Fans of other clubs can look upon the turmoil of the club, their move away from their original heartlands and name and the financial messes they have suffered and target the club. In football there does appear to be times when anything is fair game. For the Livingston fan, and the many who have adopted the club since their move to West Lothian there is a degree of pride in their achievements – and so there should be.

It’s a decent club with some decent players and fans amongst them. People who mourn their Meadowbank stadium can nip to see Edinburgh City there now but what Livingston managed was to move to an area of no football history and create a Premier League club. There are plenty of other envious clubs looking that are more envious than appreciative; my own club have hardly managed any of that…

It’s been an interesting few years at the West Lothian monster and the next few years look like they are going to continue in much the same vein. From the outside, at least, there looks like a successful recipe has been found – what comes next in the story will always be fascinating – I am sure it shall probably not be, though straightforward. It is after all, Livingston FC.

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