The Livi Lions Rollercoaster!

Konect West Lothian editions July 2018

by David Levin

Every Livingston Football Club entrance ticket should be supplied with a free travel sickness pill to counteract the up and down, North Sea trawler type ordeal of supporting them.

Embarking on season 17/18, the team's plotted course was merely to consolidate its League one status, so for players who experienced the nadir of relegation two seasons earlier, the fairytale promotion represents vindication and sweet rehabilitation.

Raffaele de Vita had even, in his first spell with the club, lived through the shame and bitter disappointment of imposed demotion when the club went into administration 11 years ago. While Keaghan Jacobs (whose goals played a major part in winning the playoff) will have played for Livi in all four divisions come next season.

Players sing the praises of the fans, especially the hardcore of 700 or so who support far and wide in all weathers, whichever league Livi are in.

This understanding that the supporters are the lifeblood of the club is underscored by the fact that fans have the opportunity to buy shares in their Club - even to the extent of a controlling interest. The Board have avowed that all funds raised from fans' share purchases will be fully allocated to the playing budget and to improving the team squad. This attitude is encouragingly refreshing and nirvana for committed fans. Perhaps, given Abramovich's visa problems, even Chelsea F.C. could head down the same road (though shares could be a tad more expensive).

Promotion to the Premier League brings a welcome but unexpected bonus to the business that had the bottle to sign a contract sponsoring the team a couple of years ago - the 200 cover Tony Macaroni Livingston restaurant. Incidentally, that sponsorship was renewed before the playoff. Though Lions supporters are adjusting but slowly, the ground is now called "the Tony Macaroni Stadium".

Dael Links, Media and Marketing Manager and erstwhile box to box midfielder, speaking on behalf of the company, said the feeling preseason was that mere survival in the First Division would be ok and consolidation was the target.

On match days, players pack in their pre-match carbs via plates of complimentary pasta and Sep Marini, the guvnor, hopes that fans will congregate to take the photo opportunity, show their support and, incidentally, boost the turnover of the restaurant. After all, TM put his hand deep in his pocket for the club and supporters.

Dael believes success in football and business demand similar attributes like discipline, drive, hunger, team spirit and efficient management. He hopes the local business has clearly shown that they are with the Lions for the long haul, through thick and thin (or tagliatelle and spaghetti). He anticipates with relish the day Scotland thrash Italy and his plans for the future include a charity challenge match between the wannabes of TM staff and the Lions' supporters club.

There is no doubt that the results of the local team have an effect on the mood of a town, so the mood in Livingston is decidedly upbeat, with everyone dreaming of a repeat of years 2001 and 2002, when promotion to the top tier was immediately followed by a third place behind Celtic and Rangers.

But just like last season, most would settle for consolidation.

Some Highs

1943. Founded as the Ferranti Amateurs.

1948. Renamed Ferranti Thistle.

1953. Joined East of Scotland League.

1974. Admitted to Scottish Football League. Renamed Meadowbank Thistle.

1983. Promoted to top tier of Scottish football.

1987. Promoted to the first division.

1993. Became a Ltd Company.

1995. Renamed Livingston FC on relocation.

1996. Third division champs.

1999. Second division champs.

2001. Promotion to top tier.

2002. Qualified for UEFA Cup by finishing third to Celtic and Rangers.

2004. Won Scottish League Cup.

2010. Won Division 3. Promoted.

2011. Won Division 2. Promoted.

2015. Won Scottish Challenge Cup.

2017. Under David Hopkin promoted to the Championship.

2018. Defeat Partick Thistle to return to the top flight after 12 years.

Some Lows

1985. Relegated to second division.

1988. Second in first division but not promoted because of League reorganisation.

1993. Relegated to Second division.

1995. Relegated to Third division. Faced extinction which brought about move to Livingston.

2004. Financial problems - into administration.

2006. Relegated from Premier League.

2009. More financial problems so demoted to Division 3 and rescued last minute by "the Livingston 5".

2016. Relegated to League 1.

© Lothian Publications Ltd