East Fife supporters will tell you that their club was founded in 1903. What is not so well documented, however, is how the game of football developed in and around Methil prior to East Fife's formation. For the first mention of football in the Levenmouth area we must go back to the year 1879, when Cameron Bridge Football Club came into existence. The club was formed by a group of local ‘football enthusiasts’ in March of that year, who organised matches amongst their own members in the grounds of Cameron House. The formation of this club did not, however, initiate the immediate formation of other football clubs in the area. Most of the inhabitants of the towns and villages in the eastern part of the county were content to play cricket on summer Saturdays and amuse themselves with indoor pastimes throughout the winter months.
The first senior football club to be formed in the area was the short lived Leven F.C. who were admitted to the Fifeshire Football Association in 1889. The new side soon built up a reputation, but unfortunately not a good one! After a match at Crail, where Leven had beaten Crail Union 3-1, the local newspaper commented: "This was not football but rough play. The Union on different occasions were about to leave the field through the Leven lads using filthy language towards not only the players but the spectators. The Union are not likely to bring back this team to Crail in a hurry for the sake of their own good name as well as the game of football".
After Leven lost their first round Fife Cup fixture against Burntisland Thistle just a few weeks later, the club was disbanded. After the demise of the Leven club, however, other local sides began to flourish. Over the decade which followed, three highly respected football clubs were formed in the Levenmouth area; namely Methil Rovers, Buckhaven United and Leven Thistle.
Methil Rovers were formed in 1893. Their colours were red and white and their first home was School Park in Lower Methil, which had a bad slope running from goal to goal. Rovers later played at Braehead Park, adjacent to Methil Brae.
Leven Thistle, whose colours were red and black, were founded in the late 1880's and in season 1896/97 were crowned 'Fife County Champion Juniors'. They led a fairly nomadic existence, playing at several venues throughout the local area including Leven Links, Haughhouse (near Mountfleurie) and Cottage Park (adjacent to Swiss Cottage on the banks of the River Leven). When Methil Rovers folded in 1901, Thistle re-located to their ground at Braehead, although the team retained its original name. This was to be the club's home for only half a season, as they were soon on the move again - this time to Town Hall Park, Methil, for the start of season 1902/03.
Buckhaven United, whose colours were black and white, played at Toll Park. The first club of that name was founded around 1890 and lasted only a season, but United were reborn in 1897 and played their first match in September of that year. In 1902, United considered the possibility of becoming a senior professional club representing the local area, which prompted the local press to comment: "Some people talk of running a senior team in Buckhaven, but older heads view this as beyond the resources of the town itself; they hold, and rightly we think, that such a team could only be done by amalgamation with Wemyss or Leven".
By early 1903, local opinion that the Levenmouth area could support a senior side was growing almost daily. This enthusiasm resulted in a public meeting being held in Methil in January 1903 "to discuss the formation of a senior club for the East of Fife" - and East Fife Football Club was born.
Leven Thistle’s Town Hall Park was taken over by the newly formed East Fife and renamed Bayview Park. Having lost their home ground and having to face up to the likelihood that their regular patrons would turn their attentions to the new senior club, Thistle decided to call it a day.
Unlike Leven Thistle, however, Buckhaven United did not fold following East Fife’s formation. They stayed in existence until 1912 and actually played East Fife three times, once at Toll Park and twice at Bayview, and won all three games!