Dunfermline Athletic

Manager on Thursday

Thursday, 22nd Dec 2022

22/12/22: JMc - “We have two big games coming up and we are not looking any further than the Kelty game.

Manager James McPake< is delighted with the way Dunfermline’s Christmas fixture has fallen on Christmas Eve and the somewhat rare opportunity for players and staff to fully enjoy Christmas Day with their family and friends. He is equally aware that Christmas will only be a special celebration if his team can take the three points from Saturday’s fixture away to Kelty Hearts.

“I must have been in England when they have played on it before but it’s the first time that I’ve played on Christmas Eve. It’s a bit different given that we are used to the normal schedule that has had games on Boxing Day. I think that it is great the way that it’s come around this year.

“It’s maybe not what the fans want since they enjoy the Boxing Day fixture but it is great for the players and even some fans to enjoy Christmas Day after a good result and good performance we hope. It is great for the players with young kids or the ones that need to spend time with family.”

The Kelty match is Dunfermline’s first Christmas Eve fixture since 2011. Boxing Day has been a more frequent match day at this time of year and in Scotland can be local derbies but James can recall no such luck with Boxing Day fixtures that he played in while at Coventry City:-

“Having been involved in football for nearly twenty years now and travelled on Christmas Day for two years on the bounce in the English Championship to Swansea and Cardiff. I have been used to doing that - leaving the house at midday after your Christmas dinner and then training. Even up here you get teams doing that. It is a great job, it is great to do it but at certain times you think it would be good if things were moved. This year it has fallen into place perfectly for us.

“We have two big games coming up and we are not looking any further than the Kelty game. Hopefully by the time we wake up on Christmas morning we have another extra special present after a good performance. If we can do that then hopefully the result will take care of itself.”

This will be the third meeting of the clubs this season. Dunfermline won in October and the first derby in August was a goalless draw. James summarised them:-

“I think in the game up there we were the better team and we should have taken the three points. Then of the game down here, they will be saying the same. It finished 2-1 with the winner coming from Mochrie to Comrie and the cut back to Wighton. If I’m honest they were the better team in that game.

“They came with a real game plan, they were well set up and they had a go at us. They have plenty of experience in that team when you look through it - Kallum Higginbotham, Jordon Foster, Nicky Low, Joe Cardle and obviously John Potter is a really good coach.

“It is going to be a tough game and I’m looking forward to the atmosphere. It is good up there albeit it is a small stadium. When you see the figure it doesn’t seem as if it holds a lot of fans compared to certain grounds but up there last time with it being a local derby, it was a really good atmosphere. The time of year that it is, them having a great result last week and we are top of the league so it has everything for a good encounter which is what we want.”

The January transfer window will open but the Pars boss maintains that he has had his eye on it ever since the summer one shut.

“To be fair in the summer one you are still planning and actually planning for next summer as well. You are looking at people in January with a view that you will not get them until next summer anyway.

“I have had situations like that before with Paul McMullan for example. He was a Dundee United player, we signed him on a pre-contract and the deal ended up getting done in the January. There is always the likelihood that can happen when you do go for pre-contracts. The summer window is there but obviously the January one is coming up pretty soon and we are working hard to use it.

“It has been ongoing. The conversations that we had in September have been followed up so we will see what January brings. What I will again stress is that we will only add quality. I don’t mean that in any disrespect to any other player, we will only add what we believe will strengthen our squad which I think we have done in the last window.

“When you are at this point with only the second window coming up, we are still trying to get targets in that we were targeting for the first window as well. The work is ongoing, the phone is heating up a bit now and the battery is draining a bit quicker because the agents are phoning and that’s all part of it.”

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