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Last Updated: Monday, 14 May 2007, 17:13 GMT 18:13 UK
Chick Young's view
Chick Young
By Chick Young
BBC Scotland football correspondent

There is not a show in the world that matches the theatre of football.

Not a play, nor poem, nor classic tale. Sport is the ultimate entertainment.

It rips at your soul, plunges you into despair then makes your heart soar.

It is not, as Bill Shankly once proclaimed, more important than life or death - but it can put you through an emotional wringer.

St Mirren players celebrate scoring against Motherwell
St Mirren avoided relegation in a dramatic day of SPL football

I left Fir Park on Saturday looking like I had just gone 15 rounds with a baseball bat. Mental torture affects you physically, somehow.

Fans of other clubs will know the feeling.

Manchester United supporters, for example, still watch re-runs of 1999, frantic that this time Ole Gunner Solskjaer won't actually snatch that dramatic winner. It will be thus with St Mirren fans for many years to come.

Their team climbed from the jaws of the alligator on Saturday afternoon.

I doubt, in all the decades of reporting this incredible game, that I have witnessed such a manic turn of events.

I felt as if I had a cartoon heart. I swear I could hear it thumping so loud it threatened to burst through my shirt.

Dunfermline, I was convinced, had no chance of going down. They had clawed their way back from the edge of the abyss and their upwardly mobile momentum, I was certain, would have them soaring to freedom.

Shows what I know.

They were hurtling to history late on Saturday afternoon, one up against Inverness while the radio brought them the news they most wanted to hear, that St Mirren were dancing on quicksand at Fir Park, sinking 2-0 to Motherwell.

Dunfermline were feet from the shore, where they could towel themselves down and freshen up for a cup final.

St Mirren, as the Motherwell tide threatened, were about to go down for the third time.

And then the gods of goalkeeping took a hand with a devilish sense of fun.

Dorus De Vries, virtually unbeatable for months, contrived to lose a goal with a ball that squirmed like a jelly in his hand.

Dunfermline manager Stephen Kenny
Dunfermline boss Stephen Kenny could not save them from the drop

Except the custard ended up on his face. He had been Dunfermline's rock, but now, when they most needed him, he crumbled.

Nearly 200 miles south, there was another calamity involving a man who, like Michael Jackson, was for one comedic moment wearing gloves for no apparent reason.

Sutton's downward header failed to obey the laws of physics and bounced not into the arms of Colin Meldrum but squirted between his legs.

St Mirren sensed a lifeline. The rest happened in a blur.

The Paisley side scored twice more and reached salvation. Dunfermline lost another goal and packed their bags for a southward-bound journey on the A9 that must have been the road to hell. And from it.

They will be emotional wrecks. I began to nurse a thought that they might have it in their locker to shock Celtic at Hampden in the Scottish Cup final, but the wind has surely been taken from their sails.

In fact, their spinnaker lies limp. They are becalmed on a windless ocean.

St Mirren, meanwhile, are refuelled with an enthusiasm for the winter ahead. Another season in the SPL and energised by the sale of the stadium, funds in the account and a flitting to a new dream home.

And the promise, of course, of money to be splashed in the market place this summer. Happy days.

Their players have been sensational.

It has been quite the most magnificent piece of over-achievement I have witnessed since the boy David secured a first-round KO of the much-fancied Goliath.

This, you will recall, is the group of players who won the lower division a year earlier, earning wages that are, by far, the most miserly in the SPL.

Kirk Broadfoot could have put his tools in the shed and purred along wondering how he was going to spend his Ibrox windfall. But he didn't.

He raised his game to such an extent that those Ibrox fans who doubted whether he was Rangers quality will now sleep easily.

Dunfermline will feel like victims of a haunting.

Even a cup final and the promise of Europe will not exorcise the spirits.

But, in the end, it was not about what they did over the last couple of months, but rather what they didn't do when winter was at its deepest.

And, for the second consecutive year Scotland, will be represented in Europe by a team not from our top division and that - given that Dunfermline may not even win the cup - is an embarrassment.

League placings should be more important than getting to the last two of a knockout competition.

I suspect the Fife club will not be hanging around for the latter stages of the Uefa Cup, but then supporters of the club will take strength from the quality of my forecasts.


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