Blue Brazil fan, Ross Cameron, was kind enough to speak to us ahead our League Cup clash with Cowdenbeath at Central Park.
He gives his thoughts on the new League Cup format, the relief of staying in the SPFL and more below.
Can you tell me what helped you become a Cowdenbeath fan and what your earliest memory of supporting the Blue Brazil is?
My Dad is from Cowdenbeath so I was brought up supporting them and getting taken to games on a Saturday. It was a case of my team was chosen for me rather than I chose my team. The earliest memory I have was beating Arbroath 6-2 at Central Park at the beginning of the 94/95 season. I’m sure the game was fairly early on in the season and as you’d expect, I was pretty optimistic about the season. We ended up finishing 9th in Division 3 which was the first season of the then new league format.
What's your opinions on the new League Cup format that is currently in its second year?
I’ve got mixed feelings. On one hand, the games are more meaningful than friendlies and they attract bigger crowds which then in turn generates more gate money which, as a smaller club, is very welcome. On the other hand, being a fourth seed club means that you are going to have three higher ranked clubs in the same group. These higher ranked clubs are likely to be full time so they will be a lot further along in their pre-season schedule which means they should be a lot fitter and that can show in the results. It can be a bit demoralising when you’re trying to get the team ready for the League campaign.
You kicked off your League campaign against Buckie Thistle. Was there much of a gap between yourself and the Highland Champions? They certainly gave us a few nervy moments.
Honestly, the game was a lot easier than I was expecting. Having narrowly missing out to East Kilbride in the Highland/Lowland League Play Off last season, I thought it would be a hard fought game which would maybe go to penalties. In reality, Buckie took an early lead through a silly mistake but we then looked fairly comfortable. Buckie’s second goal was also preventable and in the end, we could have had 6 or 7.
When the draw was made for the group stages, what was the goal or highest finish the club would be hoping for?
I think realistically fourth but with the chance of sneaking third. Dundee and Dundee United are both full time clubs and Raith Rovers are a hybrid of full and part time players so it was always going to be a tough group.
You enjoyed a good few seasons in Division One/Championship. I believe this was the Cowdenbeath’s best run in the Divisions since the introduction of the four leagues in 1994?
I’d use the term enjoyed loosely. It was great seeing us competing so high up the leagues but seeing your team suffer defeat after defeat isn’t fun. There were a few highlights over the four seasons we were in the second tier though – namely avoiding relegation at New Douglas Park and THAT win at East End Park.
10/11 was our first season in the Division One/Championship since the disastrous 92/93 season and came about because of Livingston getting sent to Division Three. It all happened fairly late on so we had prepared for life in Division Two. As you can imagine, it wasn’t a great season but we managed to avoid bottom spot and were relegated through the Play Offs after Dundee overturned their 25 point deduction. We bounced back up to Division One as Champions the following season and then had three seasons in Division One/Championship with an element of luck again involved.
We narrowly avoided the relegation Play Offs in 12/13, thanks in part to a point deduction given to Dunfermline. 13/14 saw us defeat The Pars in the Play Off final with Greg Stewart scoring the third goal to secure us a season in the Championship with Hearts, Hibs and Rangers. 14/15 saw the start of our decline as we finished bottom of the League and were relegated to League 1 on the final day of the season despite going into the last game sitting in 8th.
I vividly remember defeats at your ground in 2010-11 and 2013-14, could we be adding 2017-18 to that list?
I remember those games as well. Brian Fairbairn got the winner back in 2010/11 with a free kick on the stroke of half time. Davie Hay was brilliant in goals for us and played on with a broken nose. Then in 2013/14, Greg Stewart got the winner when he ran through and slotted home to earn himself a move to Dens Park.
Will we see a Cowdenbeath win on Wednesday? Probably not but anything is possible. Our squad is really small and being supplemented by development players - Kyle Miller was our oldest outfield player on Saturday past at age 24. Clubs like us rely on loans but at this stage, clubs are still building their own squads before deciding which players are surplus to requirements and can go out on loan. This means we are stretched personnel wise and have already picked up a few injuries to Jack Whittaker (broken foot) and David McGurn (thigh strain) so playing three tough games against full time teams in the space of 6 days is a big ask for the players.
You’re currently competing in League Two and just managed to escape playing in the Lowlands League after beating East Kilbride on penalties in the play-off final. How much of a relief was it to retain your SPFL status?
If we had been relegated, it’s highly likely that the club wouldn’t still exist or at least not in the same capacity. It was far too close for comfort – we were minutes away from potential obscurity. At the end of the East Kilbride game, there was no celebration from the fans or players. It was just as you say, relief. Hopefully we never end up in that situation again.
What's the aim of the club for the up-and-coming season?
Some stability. We were relegated from the Championship and then League 1 in consecutive seasons before finishing bottom of League 2 last season so a mid table finish which we can build on next season would be satisfactory. Ideally we’d be looking to push for a promotion Play Off place but it’s still early days with regarding to assembling the squad – I’d imagine there will be a couple of other signings and a few loans as well – so it’s difficult to see how realistic a top half finish is.
Who do you think will reach the final and eventually win the League Cup?
I think we’ll probably be looking at a Celtic v Aberdeen final again this season. Celtic have strengthened from last season where they were undefeated domestically and although Aberdeen lost Hayes, McGinn and Jack, they’ve brought in Stewart, Mackay-Steven, Maynard and Christie (on loan) as well as shored up their defence with the return of Kari Arnason so it’s hard to see past the two of them.