Dunfermline Athletic

Out with the old, in with the new

Saturday, 31st Dec 2022

JC: - “I enjoy playing with them, they are young, they are hungry and they are always working hard.

It’s the time of year for reflection and looking forward to a new year. For Dunfermline Athletic 2022 has been a down and up year and no one reflects that more than midfielder Joe Chalmers. The former Celtic youth made the move from Ayr United in January 22 and he claims that even after what happened to the Pars at the end of last season he still has no regrets.

This season Joe has made 21 starts out of a possible 25 and has featured in all 25. He is ready to celebrate the arrival of a new year and is delighted with the faith shown in him by manager James McPake. Joe has clocked up 1806 minutes of first team football this season, that’s over 80% out of a possible 2250. No surprise then that Joe freely admits that he is really enjoying his football, playing every week and building confidence by winning games:-

“It is a good group of boys and they are bringing the best out of me and I’m trying to do the same for them. The manager has shown a lot of faith in me, he has believed in me even though I didn’t start the season quite as well. He has stuck with me and it has been really good. I’m enjoying my football as much as I ever have.”

While Joe, in years, is the second most senior outfielder at the club after skipper Kyle Benedictus, he has been the backbone as young midfielders have developed around about him.

At the same time Joe’s game has benefited from the energy of his younger teammates. While he will celebrate his 29th birthday on Tuesday his midfield partners are all from a different century - Chris Mochrie (19), Kane Ritchie-Hosler (20), Chris Hamilton (21) and Matty Todd (21):-

“There are a lot of options in the midfield. All the players are slightly different and there is a good mix. I enjoy playing with them, they are young, they are hungry and they are always working hard. I’m just trying to keep up with them and do my best. No matter who is in there it is really enjoyable.

“Even though things didn’t quite work out last season I still say to people that I wouldn’t go back and change my decision. Obviously last season didn’t finish well and I’d have liked it to have gone better but I still really enjoyed being at the club. The club looks after you well, the staff are brilliant and there are good crowds - I wouldn’t go back and change that decision. I am still really glad that I came here and this season has been a lot better.

“When a new manager comes in off the back of relegation it is at the back of your head and it is a wee bit of a worrying time. I just worked as hard as I can from the day I came back and I think the gaffer saw that and he has been brilliant with me. He has made me a better player, shown faith in me and believed in me. I have just been trying to repay that and hopefully I can keep doing that.”

No better start to the new year would be Joe adding to his 41 Dunfermline appearances in a win over the club’s first foots, Falkirk. A man of many local derbies including the Highland and Ayrshire versions, Joe recognises that these are exciting games and the ones every player wants to play in:-

“Everybody is just trying to go about their business as normal but there is that little bit of excitement. It has been a really good first half of the season but obviously the manager is reminding us that it is only half of the season. There is still a long way to go and the manager is drilling it into us that we cannot afford to slip up, it has to be a repeat of the first half of the season if we want to stay top of the table.”

There is no reason whatsoever why Dunfermline should not feel confident that they can have a good second half of the season but of course they are mindful of James McPake’s mantra of one game at a time:-

“When you are winning and not losing a lot of goals it breeds confidence. When you are confident that’s probably when you play your best football and that has been a key factor this season. We need to build on that, keep that going, keep the confidence high and hopefully continue the form into the rest of the season.

“We cannot get carried away or start thinking too far ahead. Since the first game of the season the manager has always taken it one game at a time and he has always reminded us of that. Now it is built into everybody in the squad that we just concentrate on the next game. Once that is out of the way, on to the next game and the next game. That’s just the way we have taken it all season.”

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