When one thinks of a title win you imagine last day drama, unexpected heroes, pitch invasions from ecstatic supporters and fireworks as the team triumphantly take the plaudits for a hard earned triumph. Unfortunately our trip to Livingston for their 3rd division clincher against Berwick Rangers didn’t quite tick those stereotypical boxes. Instead they huffed and puffed before ultimately stumbling over the line with a dour goalless draw, not that their fans cared too much.
Livingston’s promotion ends another rather odd chapter in their recent history as just 9 months ago they found themselves in liquidation and facing extinction. However thanks to the then owner Angelo Massone finally selling up the club was saved albeit demoted to the 3rd division by the SFA. This season they threatened to waltz away with the title only to begin stuttering as it drew towards its conclusion. Actually finding the stadium amongst the labyrinth of roundabouts in Livingston was something of a challenge and on arrival at Almondvale Stadium we had to pay a ridiculous £5 car parking charge. That, coupled with over-priced pies and bovrils, were obvious albeit unwelcome signs that this is a club who don’t really belong in this division.
The stadium itself, a 10,000 all seater arena with three stands joined together and the large main stand set apart, is impressive and we sat in front of a 100 or so of Livingston’s most fervent supporters who seemed in vociferous mood at the outset. The match itself, after a brief early flurry of pressure from the home side, settled into a rather stodgy affair with Livi playing some nice football in midfield but looking rather toothless up front. Raffaele De Vita, Livingston’s Italian striker, came closest with a drive parried by the goalkeeper but Berwick slowly began to come into the game and gave the home side a massive fright ten minutes before the break. Paul Currie raced through and saw his shot parried by Roddy McKenzie before Keaghan Jacobs followed up with a block to keep it level. McKenzie was to go on to have a big say in the afternoon’s proceedings.
The second half was tight, tense and tedious. With the game seemingly meandering to a dull draw and more importantly the title for Livi there was to be an unexpected moment of drama at the death. Livingston’s Paul Watson handled in the box with just a minute left – penalty. However McKenzie produced a brilliant block to secure his side’s promotion to division two. It was an odd sight at full time as the Berwick manager was the one delightedly punching the air at his team’s unbeaten record against the champions and reminding the home fans as such. In response to the claims his side had struggled against part-timers this season Livi manager Gary Bollan angrily retorted: "I've been hearing all the bullshit of other managers". On this evidence they may find life in division two as equally challenging.
Journey - 4
Pie - 5
Bovril - 5
Ground - 6
Game – 3