Raith Rovers Football Club is a Scottish professional football club based in the town of Kirkcaldy, Fife. The club was founded in 1883 and currently competes in Scottish League One as a member of the Scottish Professional Football League, having been relegated from the Scottish Championship following defeat in the Championship play-off semi-finals in 2017.
The club's highest ever league position came in 1922, when it finished third behind champions Celtic and runners-up Rangers in Division One. The club has won two national trophies, the Scottish League Cup in 1994 by defeating Celtic after a penalty shoot-out and on 6 April 2014, Rovers won the 2013–14 Scottish Challenge Cup after beating Rangers 1–0 with a late goal from John Baird in extra time. The club also came runners-up in 1949 as well as being losing finalists in the 1913 Scottish Cup Final. Below the top flight of Scottish football the club has won the second tier five times, coming runners-up on the same number of occasions, the last coming in 2010–11 behind rivals Dunfermline Athletic.
As a result of winning the League Cup in 1994, Raith Rovers qualified for the UEFA Cup the following season. The club managed to reach the second round, only to be defeated 4–1 on aggregate to eventual champions FC Bayern Munich.
Beginnings and club name
The modern Raith Rovers were founded in 1883 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 and Kirkcaldy United, Raith became the most successful of the local teams, winning five trophies in the 1890s. There had been a much earlier (and unrelated) Raith Rovers which merged with what is now Cowdenbeath in 1882.
Although it lends its 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. Raith (Scottish Gaelic: rath, "fort" or "fortified residence") as an area once stretched from south of Loch Gelly as far as Kirkcaldy and the Battle of Raith is said to have been fought here in 596 AD. Raith House and Raith Tower sit on Cormie Hill to the west of Kirkcaldy and several parts of the town are built on land formerly of the Raith Estate, although the modern housing estate bearing the Raith name dates from long after the origins of the team.
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 subsequently 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 the first football team in Fife to be 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.
In 1921 an innovation in training, previously unknown to the Scottish game, was introduced by directors following a visit to England: the use of a ball in training. As noted in the Fife Free Press, "Hitherto, ball practice has been an absentee from the training curriculum on the grounds that being away from the ball for a week imparted eagerness on the Saturday." This heralded an era of success.
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. Along with a cargo of chilled meat bound for Buenos Aires the team had been en route to play friendly matches on the Canary Islands when the SS Highland Lock ran aground off the coast of Galicia, near Vilagarcía. Fortunately, the players were able to safely disembark, being rescued by local fishermen. They continued on their way a few days later, winning all four of their games on the islands, including one against Third Lanark, returning from a tour of South America.
The team battled on during tough times between the 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), Norrie 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 until Hibs matched the feat in 2016.
Record appearance holder Willie McNaught first appeared for Raith during the war before signing on a contract basis when normal football resumed after the end of global hostilities. McNaught went on to make 657 senior football appearances (many as captain) for Rovers. 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 also went on to win the 2nd Division title. In the period of the club's greatest high level consistency, Rovers stayed in the top division until the season after McNaught's 1962 departure. In 1951, Raith had their largest ever gate for a Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park watched by a crowd of 84,640. Raith lost 3–2 to Celtic.
Promotions, relegations and Footballer of the Year
A disastrous season came in 1962–63, when the club finished bottom of the First 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 formula 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 SFWA Footballer 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 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 four until the early 1980s.
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 United lost to Stirling Albion) on the last day of the season.
The League Cup winning era
Raith reverted to being a full-time side again for the season of 1991–92 which was soon followed by winning the First 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 Premiership) but was only short-lived.
On 27 November 1994, Raith, managed by Jimmy Nicholl, 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 Division after winning the First Division title.
As a result of the Cup win, Raith qualified for Europe (UEFA Cup) for the first time in their history. After eliminating both the Faroese and Icelandic champions (Gøtu Ítróttarfelag and Íþróttabandalag Akraness respectively) in the first two rounds, the club finally succumbed to eventual UEFA Cup winners Bayern Munich. They were beaten 2–0 by the German side in the 1st leg, which was not played at their home ground but at Easter Road, home of Hibernian. In the 2nd leg, at the Olympiastadion they led 1–0 at half time against all odds, eventually losing 2–1. 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 sixth in the Premier League.
Winning the Coca-Cola Cup, selling Steve McAnespie and playing in the UEFA Cup generated the money needed to redevelop Stark's Park as an all-seater ground with North and South Stands. 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 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 First Division. For the 2001–02 season they were relegated to the Second Division for the first time since 1987. The club returned to the First Division (with the lowest winning total, to date, for champions of 59 points), under the leadership of Antonio Calderón in 2002–03 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 Calderón 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 Second Division after finishing bottom of the First 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 became Prime Minister, and is a fan and shareholder of the club. Previous chairman David Sinton also completed work on the takeover.
On 2 May 2009, Raith secured the Second Division title with a 1–0 win at the home of Scottish football, Hampden Park, with a travelling support of over 1500. They lifted the trophy in front of almost 5000 the following week following a 0–0 draw with Arbroath.
Colours and badge
Raith's kit consists of dark blue tops with light blue detailing, with white shorts and dark blue socks. The away kit consists of a white shirt with red detailing with red shorts and socks. Raith's current badge has been used since 1998, replacing the previous lion and shield motif used in different colour combinations (including being framed in a shield shape from 1995 to 1998) since 1985.
There are three other senior league teams in Fife with East Fife around 8 miles to the east, and Cowdenbeath and Dunfermline Athletic 9 and 14 miles respectively to the west. Their traditional derby is with East Fife. Their biggest rivalry though is with Dunfermline Athletic, with the encounter at East End Park in April 2011 attracting a crowd of over 11,000.
In addition to Gordon Brown, celebrity fans include authors Ian Rankin and Val McDermid and Coldplay bassist Guy Berryman. In June 2011, McDermid joined the board of directors. Craig Levein was a supporter as a boy.
Ian Rankin has stated that detective John Rebus is a Raith Rovers supporter.
Board of directors
|Tom Morgan||Commercial Director|
|Gordon Adamson||Supporters’ Director|
|Craig Easton||Assistant Manager/Development Squad Coach (also registered as a player)|
|Katy Green||Club Doctor|
|Stuart Phin||Club Physio|
|Simon Pollock||Kit Man|
|Andrew Tannahill||Performance Analyst|
- As of 1 September 2017
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
The Coca-Cola Cup winning team
Some notable players from the team that lifted the 1994–95 Scottish League 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 City.
- Colin Cameron – 'Mickey', a former Scottish internationalist who started his career with Raith Rovers. He was signed by Hearts where he won the Scottish Cup in 1998 before moving onto Wolves, Coventry City and Milton Keynes Dons.
- Jason Dair – Experienced midfielder Dair, who can also play in defence, has also played for Millwall and Dunfermline, among many other teams. Like his one-time teammate, Shaun Dennis, Jason had three different spells at Raith.
- Stevie Crawford – A former Scottish international who started his career with Raith Rovers. He played for Cowdenbeath after being released from his second spell with Dunfermline. Stevie has also played for Millwall, Hibernian, Plymouth Argyle, Dundee United, Aberdeen and East Fife (Was also manager of the latter club).
- Gordon Dalziel – Record league goalscorer for Raith Rovers with 154 goals in the 1980s and 1990s, 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, in which he was named Man of the Match.
- Steve McAnespie – Sold to Bolton Wanderers for Raith's record transfer fee of £900,000 at the end of the 1994–95 season. Now coaching in the US. The money from his transfer helped redevelop Stark's Park.
Some notable managerial appointments:
- 1945–1961: Bert Herdman – Oversaw some of the club's most successful seasons and a sustained period in the top flight.
- 1964–1967 & 1971–1974: George Farm – In a career of distinction in both playing and managing, Farm included a promotion success with Raith among the numerous achievements he enjoyed throughout his career.
- 1986–1990: Frank Connor – Took the club from depths of the Second Division to a solid First Division spot.
- 1990–1996: Jimmy Nicholl – Manager (and player until 1994) who won two First Division titles, the historic League Cup victory and oversaw Rovers' only foray into European competition.
Rovers managers since World War II:
- Bert Herdman 1945–1961
- Hugh Shaw 1961–1962
- Alfie Conn 1962–1963
- Doug Cowie 1963–1964
- George Farm 1964–1967
- Tommy Walker 1967–1969
- Jimmy Millar 1969–1970
- Bill Baxter 1970–1971
- George Farm 1971–1974
- Bert Paton 1974–1975
- Andy Matthew 1975–1978
- Willie McLean 1978–1979
- Gordon Wallace 1979–1983
- Bobby Wilson 1983–1986
- Frank Connor 1986–1990
- Jimmy Nicholl 1990–1996
- Jimmy Thomson 1996
- Tommy McLean 1996
- Iain Munro 1996–1997
- Jimmy Nicholl 1997–1999
- John McVeigh 1999
- Peter Hetherston 1999–2001
- Jocky Scott 2001–2002
- Antonio Calderón 2002–2004
- Claude Anelka 2004
- Gordon Dalziel 2004–2006
- Craig Levein 2006
- John McGlynn 2006–2012
- Grant Murray 2012–2015
- Ray McKinnon 2015–2016
- Gary Locke 2016–2017
- John Hughes 2017
- Barry Smith 2017–
- Scottish First Division:
- Scottish Second Division:
- Scottish Cup:
- Runners-up (1): 1912–13
- Scottish League Cup:
- Scottish Challenge Cup:
- Winners (1): 2013–14
- B Division Supplementary Cup:
- Scottish Qualifying Cup:
- Fife Cup:
- Winners (35): 1891–92, 1893–94, 1897–98, 1898–99, 1905–06, 1908–09, 1914–15, 1920–21, 1921–22, 1922–23, 1924–25, 1929–30, 1947–48, 1950–51, 1955–56, 1956–57, 1961–62, 1966–67, 1967–68, 1968–69, 1971–72, 1975–76, 1980–81, 1986–87, 1989–90, 1990–91, 1992–93, 1993–94, 1994–95, 1997–98, 1998–99, 1999–2000, 2001–02, 2003–04, 2011–12
- Shared (4): 1952–53, 1954–55, 1959–60, 1965–66
- Runners-up (23): 1892–93, 1900–01, 1904–05, 1910–11, 1915–16, 1917–18, 1923–24, 1928–29, 1930–31, 1932–33, 1938–39, 1953–54, 1957–58, 1960–61, 1964–65, 1978–79, 1982–83, 1987–88, 1996–97, 2000–01, 2002–03, 2004–05, 2007–08
- Wemyss Cup:
- Winners (8): 1897–98, 1900–01, 1903–04, 1904–05, 1905–06, 1914–15, 1920–21, 1938–39
- Shared (1): 1937–38
- Stark Cup:
- Winners (2): 1908–09, 1911–12
- Shared (2): 1909–10, 1910–11
- Penman Cup:
- Winners (8): 1905–06, 1908–09, 1911–12, 1922–23, 1923–24, 1936–37, 1947–48, 1958–59
- Runners-up (2): 1926–27, 1957–58
- Record attendance: 31,306 vs Hearts, 7 February 1953
- Record victory: 10–1 vs Coldstream, Scottish Cup, 1954
- Record defeat: 2–11 vs Morton, Division 2, 1936
- League goalscoring record: Norrie 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: £225,000 for Paul Harvey (from Airdrie, July 1996)
- Highest transfer fee received: £900,000 for Steve McAnespie (to Bolton Wanderers, September 1995)
|1995–96||UEFA Cup||Preliminary round||GÍ||4–0||2–2||6–2|
|Second round||Bayern Munich||0–2||1–2||1–4|