Raith Rovers Football Club is a Scottish professional football club based in Kirkcaldy, Fife. They are members of the Scottish Football League and currently play in the Second Division. Their manager is former Hearts head coach John McGlynn who replaced former Hearts and Leicester manager Craig Levein.
Due to past victories, Raith Rovers remain one of the higher supported clubs in the lower divisions of Scottish football, regularly attracting gates of over 1,500.
There are three other senior league teams in Fife with East Fife around eight miles to the east, and Cowdenbeath and Dunfermline Athletic nine and fourteen miles respectively, to the west.
Raith (Scottish Gaelic rath "fort") is a place west of Kirkcaldy where the Battle of Raith was fought in 596.
Although it lends it name to many entities in the region, Raith is not itself a settlement. A Raith Rovers victory in the 1960s led to a famous BBC commentator's blunder that the fans would be "dancing in the streets of Raith tonight". Although commonly attributed to Englishman David Coleman, this was actually said by Scotsman Sam Leitch.
There was a much earlier (and unrelated) Raith Rovers which merged with what is now Cowdenbeath
in 1882. The modern Raith Rovers were founded in 1883 (taking the same name) in the Scottish
town of Kirkcaldy, playing at Robbie's Park
. Though there were other teams who incorporated the town name, such as Kirkcaldy Wanderers
, Raith became the most successful of the local teams, winning five trophies in the 1890s. . A mixture of local success and ambition took the club into the senior leagues where they established themselves and thereby became the pre-eminent team in the town. The club became a senior team in 1889 around the same time they were forced to leave Robbie's Park which was incorporated into a new public park called the Beveridge Park
, named after Provost Michael Beveridge.
The team subsquently moved to their current home of Stark's Park
named after and run by councillor Robert Stark in 1891.
The club turned professional by 1892 and were elected to the Scottish League
in season 1902/03 The club were incorporated into a limited company: the Raith Rovers Football and Athletic Company, Ltd by 1907. After two consecutive successful seasons in 2nd Division
, the club elected to join the 1st Division
in 1909/10. Three years later, the club made their first (and only) appearance in the Scottish Cup
Final losing 2–0 to Falkirk
The Club had its highest ever league finish in the Scottish top division, when they came third to the Old Firm in 1921/22. This was followed by the unusual incident where the players were shipwrecked in 1923. The team had been en route to play friendly matches on the Canary Islands when the boat ran aground. Fortunately, the players were able to safely disembark and continue on their way a few days later.
The team battled on during tough times between 1920s and 1930s but things improved by the season of 1937/38 saw Raith setting a British League Record with 142 goals in just 34 league matches while winning the 2nd Division championship. The record still stands today. The forward line of Glen (5 goals), Gilmour (35), Haywood (47), Whitelaw (26) and Joyner (21) scored 134 of the record 142 goals.
Around this time, a then record crowd of 25,500 filled Stark’s Park on a Wednesday afternoon for a Scottish Cup quarter-final replay against East Fife (The first game had attracted 19,000 to the old Bayview ground). East Fife won 3–2 and went on to become the only 2nd Division club to win the Scottish Cup.
Raith reached the League Cup final for the first time in 1948/49 but lost 2–0 to Rangers. In an echo of what would happen four decades later, the club go on to win the 2nd Division title also.
In 1951, Raith had their largest ever gate for a Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden watched by a crowd of 84,640. Raith lost 3–2 to Celtic
Promotions, Relegations & Player of the Year
A disastrous season came in 1962/63, when the club finished bottom of the 1st Division conceding 118 goals in 34 games.
After leaving Queen of the South, George Farm became Raith manager in 1964. Farm took Raith to promotion in 1966/67 before leaving for Fife rivals Dunfermline Athletic and was never able to repeat the forumale when he returned in the season of 1971/72.
Raith managed to avoid relegation in 1967/68, thanks to Striker Gordon Wallace, who became the first player outwith the Old Firm to be voted Player of the Year. He scored 27 goals in 34 matches. Although, the club did find themselves being relegated again at the end of the 1969/70 season. Nonetheless, the rovers during this time managed to get through to the quarter finals of the Scottish cup for the second year running between 1970/71 and 1971/72 - although the latter saw them beaten 3-1 by Kilmarnock FC
with a crowd of 10,815.
In 1975/76, the league set-up changed from Divisions 1 & 2 to a 3 tier system (Premier Division, Division 1 & Division 2). In the inaugural year of this system, Raith were promoted to the 1st Division, but were promptly relegated the next season, before bouncing back up the season after. Raith then performed reasonably well in the 1st Division, hovering around the top 4 until the early 80's.
A new manager, Frank Connor took charge in early 1986, bringing many new faces onto the team which resulted in promotion on goal difference after a 4–1 win against Stranraer (while Ayr lost to Stirling) on the last day of the season.
The "Glory Years"
Raith reverted to being a full time side again for the season of 1991/1992 which was soon followed by winning the 1st division title in the season of 1992/93. This was to start the most successful period in the club’s history - which saw the team's first foray into the Scottish Premier Division (now the Premier League) but was only shortlived.
On the 27th November 1994, Raith surprisingly beat Celtic 6–5 on penalties to win the Coca Cola Cup, after a 2–2 draw. Future Raith manager, Gordon Dalziel, scored the equalising goal for Raith in the dying minutes of regulation time. The same season, Raith were again promoted to the Premier League after winning the First Division title.
Following the Cup win, Raith qualified for Europe (UEFA Cup) for the first time in their history. After putting out both the Faroese and Icelandic champions (Gotu Itrottarfelag and ÍA Akranes respectively) in the first two rounds, the club finally succumbed to eventual UEFA Cup winners Bayern Munich who were easily beaten 2-0 by the German side in the 1st leg at Easter Road and losing again in the 2nd leg despite leading 1–0 at half time in the Olympiastadion in the 2nd leg. This was the first time a Scottish team had qualified for a major European competition while playing outside the top league. The same season, Raith finished 6th in the Premier League.
Winning the Coca Cola Cup, selling Stephen McAnespie and playing in the UEFA cup generated the money needed to redevelop Stark's Park as an all-seater ground with a North and a South stand. It was completed in time for the 1995/96 season, and Bayern Munich were invited to play a friendly in the first match in the redeveloped ground, with Raith Rovers securing a narrow (1-0) win.
The End of the Fairytale
After the club were relegated from the Premier Division, they also struggled to succeed in the 1st Division. For the 2002/2003 season they were relegated to the 2nd Division for the first time since 1987. The club returned to the 1st Division (with the lowest winning total, to date, for champions of 59 points), under the leadership of Antonio Calderon in 2003/2004 season.
At the start of the 2004/05 season, Claude Anelka (brother of French Striker Nicolas) offered £300,000 to any team who would offer him a manager's job and was subsequently appointed the manager of Raith Rovers, with Antonio Calderon refusing the offer of a coaching role and leaving the club. Anelka signed a team of (mostly) continental players from the lower leagues in France. A disastrous season followed, despite Anelka resigning halfway through the season (replaced by Gordon Dalziel) and his signings either leaving, or having their contracts terminated, Raith were relegated to the Scottish 2nd Division after finishing bottom of the 1st Division with just 16 points in the season.
During 2005/06, The future of the club looked doubtful after the club and its traditional home of Stark's Park
were both placed under threat by previous owners Colin McGowan and Alex Short. The Glasgow based property developers had repeatedly threatened to sell Stark's Park for housing in a bid to find a buyer for their 50% stake in the club and after months of legal and financial wrangling a deal was struck with their company, West City Development.
Former chairman Turnbull Hutton and director Mario Caira, who were part of West City retained their investment and have been joined by major investor John Sim, a Thailand-based senior financial figure with liquidator KPMG.
The Reclaim the Rovers fans' campaign, which was launched in a bid to secure a local future for the club, has also secured a place for a Supporters' Representative, on the new-look board after raising £100,000 towards the final figure.
On 30 December 2005, Raith Rovers' future was secured after a £1.2 million community buy-out (The New Raith Rovers Limited consortium) assisted by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown who is now the current Prime Minister, who is a fan of the club. A number of individuals including previous Chairman David Sinton worked tirelessly behind the scenes, and for no reward other than the satisfaction of securing the club's future, for a number of months before the buy-out could finally be completed.
Colours and badge
Raith's current kit is based on the original 1880s strip, revived for the club's 125th anniversary
It consists of navy blue and white tops and socks, with blue shorts. The away kit is silver with red panels, with red and white socks. Raith's current badge has been used since the mid-1990s, replacing the previous white lion on a blue background. Previous badges can be seen on the Raith website
Raith Rovers currently play their football at Stark's Park, located on Pratt Street in the Linktown area of Kirkcaldy, Fife. Stark's Park is a 10,104 seater stadium which remains among the most impressive of the stadia owned by the lower league clubs despite it needing some structural work on the older 'Railway Stand'. which exceeds the SPL criteria of 10,000 covered, individually numbered seats. In addition, the club have a pitch protection system. (source -http://www.raithroversfc.com)
Raith maintain crowds of over 1,000 in the Second Division, with crowds in excess of 2,000 for derby fixtures. Raith fans are not known by any name, such as Dundee United
; rather, they are simply 'Rovers fans'.
In addition to Gordon Brown, celebrity fans include authors Ian Rankin and Val McDermid and Coldplay bassist Guy Berryman In Giles Foden's novel The Last King of Scotland it is mentioned that Nicholas Garrigan, the fictional protagonist, is a Raith Rovers fan.
As of 25 August 2008.
Notable past players
Some notable past players:
- Marvin Andrews - Trinidad and Tobago international re-signed from Rangers in 2006 on a three-year deal and then subsequently left again, in May 2008.
- Donald Urquhart – 1971 to 1985 – 497 appearances.
- Jim Baxter – Signed in 1958 and become one of the legendary Scottish players of the post-war era.
- Johnny Urquhart – Served as a player, director and president over five decades from 1950s.
- Willie McNaught – 657 appearances between 1941 and 1961 - still a record for any Rovers player. Capped 5 times for Scotland.
- Andy Leigh – 487 appearances from 1948 to 1963 before running the club’s Development Association and then becoming groundsman until 1994.
- Willie Penman – Rovers top scorer with 151 league and cup goals, 50 more during World War II and 10 others in friendlies.
- Andy Young – Made 621 appearances from 1945 until 1960.
- Alex James – Played from 1922 to 1925 before heading to Preston North End F.C. then Arsenal F.C.. Became one of the outstanding players of his generation winning countless trophies and captaining Arsenal.
- Dave Morris – Rovers most capped Scottish player – 6 caps in the mid 1920s.
- Nacho Novo - Now playing for Rangers.
The Coca-Cola Cup Winning Team
Some notable players from the team that lifted the Coca-Cola Cup:
- Shaun Dennis - Over 400 appearances in three different spells between 1988-2004 before taking on a coaching role for a short period. Also played for Hibernian and Brechin
- Colin Cameron - Colin 'Mickey' Cameron, a former Scottish internationalist who started his career with Raith Rovers. He was signed by Hearts, before moving onto Bradford, Wolves, Coventry City and MK Dons. Currently plying his trade with Dundee
- Jason Dair - Experienced midfielder Dair, who can also play in defence, who has also played for Millwall and Dunfermline, among many other teams. Like his one-time team-mate, Shaun Dennis, Jason had three different spells at Raith.
- Stevie Crawford - Stevie Crawford, a former Scottish international who started his career with Raith Rovers. He has just been released from his second spell with Dunfermline, and has also played for Millwall, Hibernian, Plymouth Argyle, Dundee United and Aberdeen.
- Gordon Dalziel – Record league goalscorer for Raith Rovers with 154 goals in the 80s and 90s, who returned as a manager in 2004. Scored the equalising goal in the Cup Final.
- David Narey MBE – Veteran player, formerly of Dundee United (1973-1994), famous for his goal against Brazil in the 1982 World Cup. David retired after the Coca-Cola Cup win.
Some notable managerial appointments:
- 1945-61: Bert Herdman – Legendary manager who oversaw some of the club's most successful seasons and a sustained period in the top flight.
- 1986-90: Frank Connor – Took the club from depths of the 2nd Division to a solid 1st Division spot.
- 1990-96: Jimmy Nicholl – Manager (and player until 1994) who won two 1st Division titles, the historic League Cup victory and oversaw Rovers' only foray into European competition.
Rovers managers since World War II:
- Record attendance: 31,306 vs Hearts, 7/2/1953
- Record victory: 10–1 vs Coldstream, Scottish Cup, 1954
- Record defeat: 2–11 vs Greenock Morton, Division 2, 1936
- League goalscoring record: Norman Heywood 1937/38, 42 goals
- Most league goals (individual): Gordon Dalziel, 154 (1987-1994)
- Most goals in a league season (team): 142, 1937-38 (British Record)
- Most capped player: David Morris, 6 caps for Scotland
- Highest transfer fee paid: £225k for Paul Harvey (from Airdrie, July 1996)
- Highest transfer fee received: £900k for Steve McAnespie (to Bolton Wanderers, September 1995)