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  1. The Dee go into this match with Rangers on the back of two confidence boosting performances that came in our draw on Sunday with Hearts amd then on Wednesday at Parkhead against Celtic which also produced a point. Rangers will be looking for a win to keep their challenge for second place going, especially since they have only picked up one point in their last three matches. We spoke to Rangers FC Fan Page to get their views leading up to Saturdays clash. Rangers started the second half of the season well when you when you won 6 out of 7. The last three games however has seen them slump to two defeats and then clawing back a two goal deficit to get a draw with Motherwell. What do you think has contributed to this 'mini slump?' There has been a wealth of factors contributing to our recent struggle in the last few games. First of all, Murty’s tactical inexperience has cost us, especially when it comes down to making changes which was on display in the Old Firm when Jozo Simunovic was sent off, ultimately costing Rangers the game as Murty chose not to expose the man down by bringing on a striker and pushing for more. Another factor which has contributed has been the injury of David Bates, forcing a back pair of Martin and Alves who have been nothing short of frauds since pairing up together. Rangers now find themselves three points behind Aberdeen in the league with Hibs breathing down your neck. It's going to be a tasty run in for who finishes second but can you see Rangers being that team? It’s tough to say at the moment. If we don't make changes in tactics and formation then it'll be a miracle if we get any wins post-split. If we see a revival in the form previous to the Old Firm (game) then I feel we should finish second by beating Aberdeen once more. There is plenty of speculation around Graeme Murty and if he will be the club's long-term manager. What's your take on this? Would he be your choice or is there another name you have in mind? Personally, I do not have a specific candidate in mind. However, I just do not want to see Murty in the dugout next season. As much of a nice guy he is, his tactical inexperience has ultimately cost Rangers points. I feel there is still a lot of learning for Murty before he can even be considered as a real candidate for the job on a permanent basis. There would also have to be a major turn around from Murty if he was to stand a chance of getting the supporters back on-board. Ross McCrorie is one player that has impressed me when I've seen him play. Can we see him making an appearance on Saturday? Ross has returned to full training and was available for selection for the trip to Motherwell. I do not expect him to start and be thrown in straight away however he may make an appearance in the later stages of the match off the bench. Also, with Jordan Rossiter returning to full fitness he may be given the nod over McCrorie by Murty. You've seen the good and bad sides of Dundee this season with a win against us at Ibrox and a defeat at Dens? What's your take on our current team and league position? Dundee have been a side who have vastly underperformed this season however look likely to stave off relegation for another season and a team who have quality in the midfield with the likes of Kamara, Spence and McGowan, as well as carrying the threat of Simon Murray. They have also pulled off some unbelievable signings bringing in Premier League experience in the form of Caulker and a Europa League winner Aurtenetxe. Murty had managed two, loss two against Dundee. Can Rangers end their run of three matches without a win and get a victory over us or will Dundee build on taking points off of Hearts and Celtic and ease our relegation fears? I do feel we have enough quality to claim all three points and expect us to do so, however, I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a 0-0 draw or even a loss as we have struggled to break teams down at home who have sat back and I expect Dundee to do just that and hit us on the counter.
  2. Dundee are currently in the middle of an horrendous run of form at home which has seen five straight league defeats and the club teetering on the edge of the bottom two places in the table. Hearts away form isn't that much better either with only two wins on the road out of ten. Both teams are in need of a win. Hearts will be hoping to catch up on a resurgent Kilmarnock side in fifth place while Dundee are in dire need to ending their barren run of defeats at Dens and creating some breathing space between Partick Thistle and Ross County. In the lead up to Sundays game, we spoke to SPFL Blogger, Scotsman Sport online-writer and The Terrace Podcast editor-in-chief Craig Fowler to chat about his beloved Hearts. Hearts look destined for a third top six finish since promotion. This must have been the aim for the team at the start of the season but do you think that this term has been a disappointment for the club? Undoubtedly. It's hard to summarise expectations at the outset because of the whole Ian Cathro saga. As soon as Hearts lost to Peterhead in the Betfred Cup I think everyone knew it was going to be a tough season even if the club did the right thing, which they did, in binning the head coach. Probably the most disappointing aspect is that when Hearts finally did get on the right path - the clean sheet run, beating Hibs in the cup - it looked like the chance was really there to kick on and challenge Hibs for fourth place, but instead the two sides have gone in different directions, really. They've gotten better while Hearts have been weakened. Injuries have played a part but it goes back to the previous summer and how the squad was set up. There's a real imbalance and one or two key players being out causes the house of cards to come tumbling down. In the league you have also seen Hibs come out on top in the Edinburgh Derby with Hearts failing to find the net once. You did however get a win against them in the Scottish Cup which gave birth to Craig Leveins ‘Natural order’ comment. It must be tough to see a team you have normally dominated to have the upper hand? It's Hibs' best sequence of games against Hearts since the 1970s so there's absolutely no doubt this is tough to take. What's most troubling from a Hearts perspective is the general rejuvenation around Hibs. A couple of years ago Hearts were in the top flight averaging 16k a week while Hibs were in the second tier struggling to break 10k. Next season I wouldn't be too surprised if Hibs average a higher attendance than Hearts, which would be the first time that has happened for a long, long time. It's definitely the most positive I'm seen my Hibs supporting mates in years - probably a decade - while it's just a slog for Hearts fans right now. Steven Naismith was a massive coup for Hearts when you brought him in on-loan in January. Most clubs would love to have a forward line with a player of the calibre like him along with Kyle Lafferty. For any fans that have yet to see any Hearts matches, how has the signing worked out for the Jam Tarts? He's not quite lived up to the hype but I, for one, would still love to see him stick around for next season. He's lost a bit of the spark he once had - that little bit of explosiveness around the final third - but he's still technically and intelligently well ahead of most of his team-mates. He and Lafferty don't work particularly well in isolation because there's a lack of pace between the two, but they did link up well together in the recent win over Partick Thistle so there's perhaps more to come. Getting David Milinkovic fit again would be huge for the front three functioning well together. He's got that bit of pace and quickness that Hearts otherwise lack. I know you are in the process of watching every top flight match this season so you will have witnessed the good and bad that Dundee have produced. What’s your thoughts on our league position? Is it fully deserved or are you surprised? For a lot of the season I thought Dundee were in a false position and that it was only a matter of time before they figured things out and moved away from immediate danger of relegation. However, that was based on the assumption that they'd get a little bit more ruthless in the opposing penalty area and a bit more street-wise in their own. Seeing as that hasn't happened and we're now into the season's final quarter, I can't say I am surprised. You can knock the ball about with as much confidence as you like, but if you're poor in both boxes then there's only one thing that's going to happen. What players in our current team have impressed you and who should Hearts be weary of? Glen Kamara is probably the only Dundee player who has "impressed" me over the course of the season. If Neil McCann fancies another spectacular falling out with a first-team player, ala Scott Bain, I would love to see the defensive midfielder at Tynecastle. As for who Hearts should be wary of, Simon Murray didn't set the heather alight at Hibs and still managed to bag the winner in an Edinburgh derby. It would be typical of this season if he did likewise in a Dundee shirt. And vice-versa, what players should Dundee look out for in the Hearts team? Hard to say because it's always difficult to know who's going to play. Levein likes to chop and change his starting XI, often with little rhyme or reason. In attack, Lafferty is probably the only nailed-on starter if fit, so I'll have to plump for him. I'm not even a huge fan of the Northern Irishman, he's quite ungainly and a bit of a liability at times, and yet he's looking likely to be Hearts' first 20-goal season scorer since John Robertson. Football, eh? Dundee have went five home games without a win at home, only finding the net once and are in a battle to save their Premiership status. Can the Dark Blues end their run of bad form or will Hearts inflict more misery on the home support? While Dundee are on a terrible run at home, Hearts have been dreadful away from Tynecastle, where they are still undefeated. It's a problem that's been around for over a decade and means you can never be too confident going to watch the team away from home, even when they're good, which this team isn't. This one is a toss up.
  3. Dundee have not won at home in their last four games while St Johnstone are winless in their last five away matches. We caught up with St Johnstone 1884 to gather his thoughts on his team at this moment. It’s not been the best of seasons for St Johnstone compared to the previous years. What do you put this down to? I don't think it's any one thing and there is probably a collective responsibility needing to be taken. The chairman maybe didn't support the manager enough in the summer but Tommy Wright has maybe at times chopped and changed too much and at others remained too loyal to some players. Quite a few of the players have had poor seasons as well and that's probably been the main contributing factor. I know every team will bemoan bad luck but we've endured a fair bit this season, with poor refereeing decisions - including another one for the penalty at Kilmarnock on Wednesday - and a string on injuries. We are likely to be without 8 players for the game on Saturday. I was a little surprised at the release of Paul Paton in the January window. How did this go down with the fans when the news came out? Also, how did you rate your clubs activity in that window? I don't think anyone saw the Paton decision coming. He wasn't the best player in the squad but had played a lot this season and his replacements (Willock and Williams) were untested loans from England, neither of whom have made much impact yet. Our other signing was the prolific David McMillan from Ireland but the fact he got injured 20 minutes into his debut can sum up the way our season is going. January is a difficult month to recruit in and it's still hard to say whether we are better off or not a month down the line. There has been a few whispers, especially after Paton’s release, in Dundee that Tommy Wright had lost some of the dressing room. Has there been any talk of this in Perth has it just been a case of some fans up to mischief? I think it would be unwise for any player to go against Tommy Wright, there will only be one winner there! He'll be Saints manager for the foreseeable future and I think any player who wasn't pulling their weight would be shown the door pretty quickly. I don't think that was the case with Paton though. Wednesday nights defeat to Kilmarnock more of less ended the Saints top 6 hopes. How do you see your season finishing? Will it be a nervy end, battling to get away from the play-off spot or do you see your team finish near the top half of the bottom 6? Or is it so tight right now, anything can happen? Top six hasn't been realistic for a while now, we just aren't consistent enough. I think any of the bottom five could go down and the focus for Saints should be ensuring they are at least 10th, rather than chasing what would be a pretty meaningless 7th place. We are in a fight with five others but everyone is still punching at the moment. I wouldn't be surprised at any outcome! Our last clash seen Dundee win 2-0 against 10-men in Perth but despite the player advantage for most of the game, St Johnstone had a few chances to draw level. What was your thoughts on that game? Dundee started the game much better than Saints - a recurring theme - and we could arguably have been down to nine men. We did rally in the second half but can have no real complaints at the final result. Dundee seem to save their best performances for these games. Almost like it's a derby! So looking ahead to Saturday, both clubs have played the same number of matches but a win would be massive for both. Dundee haven’t won at home in four matches, only finding the net once while St Johnstones form away from home has seen a run of five matches also without a win with one goal. Something has to give, what’s your predictions? Saints owe the fans a performance at Dens Park following a run of poor results in Dundee but we have to start the game better than we have previously to have any chance. If we let Dundee get on the front foot and ahead, it could be a long afternoon. It's hard to have much confidence unfortunately, especially with the injury list, and I'd certainly take a point if offered.
  4. It's been a while since we last took on Celtic so there is no better time to catch up with Focus On Celtic to hear what they had to say. After taking a 1-0 lead to Russia, Celtic would be eliminated 3-1 on aggregate in the Europa League. No doubt you would be disappointed in the exit for the competition but was it much of a surprise considering Celtics away form on the continent? Celtic don’t have a great record on the road in Europe, so the result wasn’t a surprise in that sense. What has surprised the fans is that the same line up that beat Zenit could play so badly the next week. Each goal came from individual errors too. You bounced back with a victory over Aberdeen and even managed to double your lead while down to ten-men. A defeat here would have made the top of the table a bit more compact so it must have been a bit of a relief to keep the nine-point gap? A relief might be a bit strong. I was already comfortable that we could win the league, especially with the European distraction out of the way, but it was nice to bounce back with a good win, even if it wasn’t pretty at times. The big talking point this transfer window involved both clubs and Jack Hendry. It went down to the wire but the transfer that involved Scott Bain, Scott Allan, Simon Murray and Jack Hendry went through with minutes to go. Were you happy with the purchase? Dundee fans were ultimately disappointed but when you consider he had only been with us for 6 months, I guess the club couldn’t turn down that type of money. He’s been handed the No.4 shirt so Rodgers clearly thinks he will be a mainstay in the defence. How has he played so far? I have seen very little of Hendry to be honest. I have seen him play in perhaps two Dundee games that weren’t against Celtic. From what I have seen he is comfortable on the ball, but could probably learn a lot with an experienced head next to him. I think he’ll be on the fringes of the first team for the rest of the season, but he’ll play a big part next season. Rodgers clearly rates him, and identified him as a target fairly early on, so I’m not sure why it took until the last few hours of the window to sign him. The treble is still very much. How confident are you that Rodgers can make it another clean sweep this season? On paper Celtic are in with a very good chance of winning the treble, and I’m quietly confident of doing that. Trebles are very difficult though, and not many have been won, so I’m not counting my chickens. Celtic are more than capable of an off day this season, but I’m hoping that no more European football this season means less rotation, and more of a settled side. Dundee will visit Parkhead with only one defeat on the road since the end of December. Can we come away with a result on Wednesday or will Celtic prove to be too much for the Dark Blues? Dundee Played very well at Celtic Park last time out and could have nicked a point if it wasn’t for de Vries. I expect Dundee to be very disciplined and will try and contain Celtic, then perhaps try and nick a goal from a set piece or counter-attack. I just think that Celtic will have too much for you, so I’m going for a 2-0 Celtic win.
  5. They must be 'seek' of speaking to me by now but the lads at MFC Podcast (also on Twitter: @MFCPodcast86) were happy enough to have a wee chat before Saturdays tie. We only spoke a few weeks back before our Scottish Cup fifth round tie at Dens and it ended in tears for the Dee as Motherwell made their way into the next round with a 2-0 victory. What was your views n that match and win for the Well? I think most teams consider Dens Park as an extremely difficult venue to visit, so to go there and progress in the Cup fairly comfortably was extremely pleasing. I think Nadir Ciftci enjoyed that victory much to the displeasure of the Dundee fans! He’s settled brilliantly at Fir Park, I really believe that when he reaches full fitness he’ll be a massive asset to Motherwell - his attitude seems spot on too, which goes against everything we were told to expect. Following your win in the cup, Killmarnock visited Fir Park and went home with the three points after a 1-0 win. I’ve seen Motherwell fans comment that your performance that day didn’t merit the defeat. Were Killie lucky? They certainly had the rub of the green after they beat us a few days before your tie! We played pretty well last week but Killie were well organised and we weren’t able to break them down, it was a big disappointment in terms of the search for a top-six place, it’s so important we bounce back quickly. Dundee lacked an attacking force in the cup tie but on Saturday, Simon Murray gave us Dundee fans hope that he can be the man to start knocking in the chances that we have been otherwise been failing to convert on a regular basis, much to the annoyance of us fans. Will he be the first name on the team sheet that you will look at and see as an instant threat? I’ve not seen much of Murray in all honesty but his goal scoring record is fairly impressive - it came as a surprise when Hibs let him go out on loan. Steven Caulker is another name that has received plaudits since his arrival in our defence with Killie and Thistle fans commenting on the presence he gives off at the back and even up from set-pieces. Who do you see tangling with him in the hope of getting the upper hand? Well that was going to be the name I was going to answer the previous question with. I follow Spurs as my English team and I was stunned he’d joined Dundee. A player of that quality will be a huge asset to any team in this league and it’ll be very interesting to see how Nadir Ciftci and Curtis Main do up against him. I’m sure Dundee will line up a bit more differently than you seen in the cup tie. Can you see Motherwell changing it or can we expect the same outlook from them? I would expect some changes to our eleven from last week, but I doubt there will be any drastic changes to our ‘up and at em’ style of play. We go into this match with a confidence boosting victory over Partick Thistle but our home form has seen us with no wins in five that includes four defeats. How do you see this one playing out? Hopefully along the same lines as the previous two fixtures at Dens. I have no doubt it’ll be difficult but I think we’ll edge it 2-1.
  6. With one defeat in the last six for Motherwell and sitting nicely in the top 6, it was time to catch up with the guys at MFC Podcast to ask them a few questions. Since our last match, it’s been two wins, three draws and three defeats for Motherwell and you now sit in the top 6. Compared to your previous form before facing us last time around, you must be happy with the way the club have played, specially since coming back from the winter break? Very happy, the week in which we played Celtic three times on the bounce totally changed our season for the worst, the run following these games was awful, although there were a number of tough games among those. Since we’ve returned from the break we seem to have rediscovered the intensity and fighting spirit that we showed in the first four months of the season. For any Dundee fans that haven’t followed your transfers in the January window, can you talk us through the players that have been brought in? It was another pretty busy transfer window, the massive question was going to be how we replaced Louis Moult –an incredibly big job given his contribution to Motherwell in the last few years. Initially Curtis Main arrived on a free from Portsmouth, many fans had a look at his Wikipedia page and instantly wrote him off as a player who wouldn’t provide the goals, but his goal against St Johnstone brought him to four goals in five games for the club, he’s shown many attributes that have had the majority of us believing that he can go someway to filling the void left by Louis. Ciftci’s contribution has been mainly positive too, his touch is fantastic and he’s a very strong link-up player. I was really pleased to see him get off the mark against Thistle last week and hope he can adhere himself to Dundee fans even more this weekend by sticking a few in the net. We were also able to secure the signing of Peter Hartley on a permanent deal (you maybe saw the video?) and Stephen Hendrie has arrived on loan from Southend, I think it was a positive window for the club. In our last tie, I felt Dundee done enough for the win but it would end all square. What were your thoughts on our previous encounter? I would agree with you, I think we left that game very satisfied with a point, which is in part credit to Dundee for how they played and also a little down to how poor our display was. I was listening to your podcast today and quite enjoyed the discussion surrounding Colt teams entering Division 2. Could you give you thoughts to our readers about this? Prior to recording the podcast I was dead against the idea and I still am, but for different reasons now. These plans appear to have been rushed through to ensure Celtic and Rangers get their wishes. It is wrong on so many levels – I’d encourage anyone with an interest in the situation to check out our recent podcast (head about 30 minutes in if you’d prefer to avoid the MFC chat) and listen to the debate on the issue. You’ve come into this Cup tie on the back of a fine win over struggling St Johnstone whilst we got absolutely spanked at the weekend by bottom side Ross County. Will any of this matter with it being the cup or can you see a tightly thought contest? Also what's your prediction for this tie? I’ve not really considered Dundee’s result last week and don’t really think it’ll have any bearing on Saturday. Both encounters this season have been tight affairs and I don’t see this one being any different. The St Johnstone game showed when we get the ball down and try play football we can be very effective, I wouldn’t be surprised if we meet again in a replay at Fir Park, but hope we can sneak it – I’ll go for Dundee 1-2 Motherwell (Ciftci & Main)
  7. Partick's season has seen them go without a win in nine matches and after defeat to Kilmarnock last weekend, sitting bottom of the table. We spoke to Alan Fraser from The Jagscast Podcast to ask what has been going on at Firhill this season! We've asked everyone this question about their team but how did you become a supporter of Partick Thistle? I'm from Partick and I started going to Firhill in 1970/71 when Thistle got promoted from the old second division. The following season I was at Hampden on the 23rd October to see The Jags murder Jock Stein's Celtic 4-1. I thought this was the beginning of a golden era. It wasn't. How did the Jagcast idea happen and how long has this be on the go for? There has been a few versions of The Jagscast over the last five or six years and some dispute about who started it. In its present format with regular host and panel, we have been going since July 2015. Last season seen Thistle reach the top six, your highest finish since 1981, how unexpected was this and when you were close to clinching the spot, did you think you could do it? After our now traditional poor start to the season since being back in the top league, last season it was something of an achievement to get a top six spot. Unfortunately, we haven't won a league game since. Kind of takes the shine off doesn't it? How would you rate your transfer activity this summer? Has any of the new payers impressed you and what players, if any, were you sad to see go? We signed Blair Spitall from Dundee Utd and Niall Keown who was previously on loan from Reading. Both excellent signings in my opinion. Miles Storey signed and Conor Sammon came in on loan in August. Both of those still to settle into the team. Big loss being the transfer of Liam Lindsay to Barnsley, but you can't hold back the future Scotland captain from developing his career. The club announced back in April that they would be building a £4 million state-of-the-art training facility. Last time I checked, the location had yet to be decided on, has there been any movement on this? The club have announced the team in place to take this project forward and have a shortlist of sites they are looking at. See PTFC website for further information. It’s an exciting venture for the cub. To have your own training facility will only benefit Thistle for years to come. How excited are the fans about this? I am excited about this development as are my friends. I can't speak for the rest of the support but would guess that our present form occupies their thoughts more at the moment. This season has seen the club sitting bottom with no wins in nine matches. What’s going on? Yes. What is going on? Early form was good without getting results in a run of difficult fixtures. Like in recent seasons we don't get the goals when on top in matches. The last two fixtures against Motherwell and Kilmarnock were abject performances and we have to change things quickly or we'll find ourselves detached. Injury list is lengthy and unfortunate but the players we have available should be capable of getting better results in this league. I’ve read a few comments from fans who are happy with Alan Archibald as the manager and even one that said he would rather be relegated with him at the helm out of the loyalty he has shown then club. What’s your thoughts? Personally I'm an Archibald supporter for what he's given to the club as a player and for taking us to the top league and keeping us there for the last three seasons. I hope he gets through this difficult period but results don't lie and we are for some reason struggling right now. I don't really want to think of the worst-case scenario. If you could pick out a player from each side that the other should be weary of, who would they be? In the League Cup earlier in the season we absolutely murdered St Mirren with Blair Spittal and Stevie Lawless outstanding. We need to see that again to ignite our season. Kris Doolan is due back on the scoresheet so beware Dools. El Bakhatoui is obviously a talented player though inconsistent. Should be playing for us. Prediction time. Partick need to pick up points and soon. Dundee will be looking to create a gap between us and some of the teams at the bottom. Can Partick get their first win or will Dundee leave Firhill with the points? Every time we predict the Thistle score on @TheJagscast I go for 4-1 in tribute to our League Cup winning side of 1971. This week is no different. And I do mean to Thistle and not Dundee!
  8. We caught up with the chaps over at Heart Till We Die to find out their views on an early managerial change, how it felt seeing the old main stand being knocked down and their thoughts on this Saturdays clash. So, with two teams to choose from in Edinburgh, what made you support Hearts? Well, my family supports them so I was always going to be a Jambo Hearts Till I Die has a tremendous following with over 38,000 likes. What made you start up the Facebook page? I always liked the idea of creating a page on something you like, so I thought I'd make one for the team I support. Originally, the page was named 'I Was Alive When Hearts Won 10-0' (after the 10-0 thumping of Cowdenbeath) but I decided to change it about a year later because I thought it needed a freshen up. The old main stand took its last breath at the end of the season and is now in the process of being replaced with a new, younger model. How did it feel to see that part of the ground torn down and how is the redevelopment progressing? It's a shame to see it go after all the memories it holds but it's not such a bad thing as we're getting a bigger and better stand which will hopefully provide new memories! The development side is getting there but I was gutted when I heard it wasn't going to be ready in time for September. I suppose it just makes the anticipation even better for November! Ian Cathro in the managers chair never worked out for you and he was relieved of his duties after only seven months, on the eve of the first League game. Did you want to see him go or did you feel he needed a few more months in the job before any action should have been taken? I always backed him last season and was happy to see him have another fresh season. New signings looked great, we just needed to see that passion on the pitch which we missed last season. But unfortunately it started badly for him by getting knocked out of the league cup against a group of teams who we should be beating (no disrespect). After that, I just wanted to see someone new come in before it could get any worse. Jon Daly took up the reigns while a manager was sought out. It turned out to be someone that was already at the club, Craig Levein that would walk into the dugout. Having been away from management since 2012, are you happy with his appointment? Me personally, I was satisfied with the appointment. I wasn't over the moon of course, as I was expecting one of the better names. But at the end of the day, we were getting a manager who'll have plenty of discipline and has a huge knowledge of the club. He also had a successful spell before with us. I know the Aberdeen game was technically a home tie but it was at Murrayfield so it still must have felt like an away match. When you play us, it will be your EIGHTH game in a row away from Tynescastle. It must be costing an arm and a leg to follow the club right now? Of course, but that's how you have to deal with it. Soon, we'll have a period of eight home games in a row (one against you) which will hopefully bring many points. We’ve asked everyone first time around how they have felt about their team’s summer transfers. Have you been impressed with Hearts and what players, if any, have you been disappointed to see leave? I've been impressed with our signings. Lafferty and Berra were brilliant coups with Berra knowing the club very well and is a natural leader. Callachan, a Jambo himself, is looking a worth while signing. Overall, I've been happy with our signings. I was disappointed to see Callum Paterson leave because he's such an influential player. A unique goal scoring right back is always going to be a loss but I hope he does well down at Cardiff. Pick a player from each team that will cause the other problems. Jamie Walker - he's looked more himself these last few games and I think he'll cause some damage to your defence. A-Jay Leitch-Smith - he scored a couple against St Johnstone a couple weeks ago and could well do the same to us. Where do you want to see Hearts finish this year and how do you see them doing in the Scottish Cup? I hope to see us finish in the top 4 and hopefully a European place to go with that. I would really like to see us have a good run in the Scottish Cup as we've not had one since the humiliation of Hibs. Finally, how do you see Saturdays clash panning out? A repeat of the last game we had at Dens would be fantastic but highly unlikely I guess and maybe not what you would have in mind? I reckon we'll be right up for it after drawing to Partick last week and with Lafferty back, I think we'll just edge it and get the win. Good Luck on Saturday!
  9. We spoke to Russell Crombie of the On Team In Ayrshire Podcast and you can read what he had to say below. Your part of the ‘One Team in Ayrshire’ podcast. When did that start up and how did you get involved? The show started a few years ago, when myself and Jamie McDougall realised there might be an appetite for greater analayis on Kilmarnock's matches. Things have petered off lately with work and university commitments, but we're hoping to get back up and running soon. There was pressure from the support for Michael Johnston to resign and he finally did in May this year. Without knowing the full scenario, how has the club been doing without him involved now? The key phrase is 'baby steps'. Johnston's position at the club had soured relationships with a lot of fans and local businesses, and those wounds won't neccessarily heal immediately. There has been an increase in sponsorship at the club, and we're revamping our hospitality packages by building an enclosure within the Main Stand, so the club clearly feel things will continue to improve as time moves along. Lee McCulloch took over in February and managed to guide the club to an 8th place finish. He’s was then appointed the manager full-time. Were you happy with him being handed the manager’s job on a permanent basis? I think the majority of fans were happy enough to give Lee the job. The issue I had, and it's one I expressed after the appointment of Gary Locke as well, was that he had no experienced coach or former manager alongside him. Locke brought in Lee McCulloch and Peter Leven as his coaching team, both of whom had just finished playing, and they were subsequently retained by Clark. When Lee became permanent manager, he kept Peter Leven on but I'd have liked a greater input on the board there. The Director of Football role is hot topic in Scottish Football right now, but I feel McCulloch would be helped with having a sounding board alongside him - my personal choices would be Craig Brown or Jim Jefferies. This summer has seen another busy one for Killie with players coming and going. Who’s made an impact and impressed you the most? It's always a busy summer at Rugby Park! In terms of new aqcusitions, Gordon Greer is the obvious answer. A recent Scotland defender, he just oozes class every time he steps onto the field. On Saturday last against Aberdeen he marshalled Aberdeen's atacking threat with consumate ease, and is probably still too good to be playing at this level. I won't complain though! Elsewhere, Dom Thomas has started the season brightly and looks to be a decent piece of business. Kilmarnock have struggled in their opening round of fixtures, only picking up two points. How have the team been playing despite the lack of points? No need for any panic yet? It's been a mixed bag. Controrary to what Steven Thompson was saying on Sportscene last week, we haven't just been a long-ball team. We try to pass the ball out from the back, but had no player to link teh defence and midfield with Gary Dicker out injured. Adam Frizzell, a wide man, was being asked to fill that role and he wasn't comfortable. Saturday against Aberdeen however, Calum Waters came in and filled the role excellently meaning we were able to fully play on the deck without having no link and being forced into a long ball. How do you see your team doing this term? It's a season of rebuilding, so I'd happily take a tenth place finish and continue to develop our young players. We have a very young squad, with Findlay, Taylor, Hawkshaw, Frizzell, Wilson, Jones, Thomas etc all regulars and all still in their late teens or early twenties, so another season of Premiership football will help them, and ourselves, going into next season. What player will cause Dundee the most threat on Saturday? Without a doubt, Jordan Jones. He tore Aberdeen to ribbons on Saturday, and is in the form of his life. He's pacy, direct, clever on the ball and has a good end product. He won't be at Kilmarnock long if he keeps up this run of form. What player from this Dundee team would you take in your team? Mark O'Hara *sobs*. I'd never have let him go in the first place, and he could have been the perfect man to link the defence and midfield as mentioned earlier. It’s a huge game for both clubs. We will be looking to build on last week’s win while Killie will be hoping to get off the mark. How do you see this one going? You're right, it's a massive afternoon of football for both sides. I have to keep faith in my team and believe that we'll come away with three points, but a lot of that faith is sat firmly at the door of the aforementioned Jordan Jones. If he can get running at Hendry or Kerr, then we'll create chances galore. If Dundee close the space he has, then we have to rely on Rory McKenzie on the other flank, who has a very poor end product. Keep Jones quiet, and Dundee have a good chance of coming away with full points.
  10. Luckily enough for us, popular fans Twitter page St Johnstone 1884 agreed to partake in a answering a few questions about how their season has went so far. Read what they had so say below! Everyone has a story what made them support their club. What’s yours? Nothing too remarkable, father and father's father etc. I was maybe quite late into it at seven or eight but my dad, like so many others, had given up on Saints a bit when they'd fallen into the bottom division. He was lured back by a midweek cup quarter-final replay against Morton and he took me along to the next home match, which was one of the final games at Muirton Park, so I consider myself fortunate to have seen Saints play a couple of games at the old ground before the move to McDiarmid. Despite losing in the Europa League Qualifiers at the first hurdle, St Johnstone have started this league campaign strongly at sit third in the table at the moment. Stupid question but, I take it your impressed with the first five games so far? Clearly no complaints about the results and the team have played very well at times but I'm not sure they've put a 90 minute performance together yet. I think it's important not to get too carried away though as it's taken some good defending at times to maintain the unbeaten run. You lost Danny Swanson to Hearts which must have been a blow but Tommy Wright managed to bring back Michael O’Halloran on loan. How do you rate the transfer activity that Wright has conducted this summer? I think the manager would have had three big targets this summer: a winger, a creative midfielder and a striker. He's said himself he got his number one choices in two of those positions - O'Halloran and Stefan Scougall - but we've not seen enough of Denny Johnstone yet to know if he can compliment Steven MacLean, or even replicate the form of Chris Kane, who was maybe strangely loaned to Queen of the South. Rangers boss Pedro Caixinha commented that O’Halloran “does not have what you need to play for Rangers." He goes on loan to St Johnstone, bangs in five goals and bags Player of the Month. Do you think the club will be trying to extend his loan deal until the end of the season or even a permanent deal? I'd be astonished if they didn't want to keep him but what the fans and manager sometimes want isn't always what the chairman is prepared to sanction. As ever with Saints, it'll come down to money but in his current vein of form, if ever a player was worth pushing the boat out for... I’ll hold my hands up and admit I haven’t seen much of St Johnstone this season due to my boycott of Sportscene until we win a match but can you name one player that us Dundee fans should be weary of on Saturday? It's the obvious answer but it's that man O'Halloran. As well as the pace that everyone knows he possesses, he's been deadly in front of goal since his return. It can be hard for opposition managers to prepare for facing him as he's already played on the left, the right and up front this season. You have one choice of player that you can pick from our squad to play for the Saints. Who do you pick? Scott Allan is arguably a player that eleven of the managers in the league would like in their squad and even though Saints are well covered in that attacking midfield area with O'Halloran, Scougall and Wotherspoon, he's the sort of guy that fans pay to see, very similar to Danny Swanson, who was at McDiarmid last season. It's hard not to admire the commitment of a player like Cammy Kerr as well, whilst Paul McGowan is a midfielder I've always liked. I'm surprised he splits opinion as much as he maybe does amongst the Dundee support. Without naming your whole squad, the early reports on Glen Kamara seem positive as well. Are your surprised with the start Dundee have went on which has only seen us pick up one point from fifteen? It's been a tough start with Aberdeen, Rangers and Hibs and one point from those fixtures isn't a disaster but to take nothing from County or Accies was surprising. With such a large turnover of players - and so many of the new faces being unfamiliar - it was always going to be hard to predict how Dundee would do this season and I suppose it was always going to take time for a new team to gel. St Johnstone have always run a tight ship but have constantly produced the goods on the field with six consecutive top six finishes and a Scottish Cup win back in 2014. Considering the money that some clubs spend each year on wages etc, seeing your team achieve all of this must be considerably pleasing? It does make it a bit more satisfying probably, as you know we're really having to work hard for everything we achieve. There is also a feeling that we kind of deserve our moment in the sun after suffering a relegation when so many clubs were spending crazy money at the turn of the century. It's good for the game that those days are in the past now and virtually every club seems to be on a sound financial footing. Is it also something that the fans now come to expect from the manager and team each season? I think we'll only know the answer to that when it doesn't happen and we see what the reaction is. The noises from the club every summer are still the same, to stay in the league, and I'd like to think the support in general realise we have no given right to finish in the top six. I would say though that whilst Tommy Wright remains in charge, you have to be hopeful that we can maintain current standards. I forgot to mention that you’ve played in Europe five times in the last six seasons. Like most Scottish clubs though, you have fallen at the qualifiers stage. Despite that, how does it feel to see regular matches against European opponents at McDiarmid Park? The European nights have been fantastic, albeit there have been some disappointing results. It's a whole topic in itself but it'll continue to be hard to Scottish clubs playing their first game at the end of June against teams who are maybe a dozen matches or more into their season. We keep thinking this will be the last time, then the team surprise us again though! Would you rate the clubs current Premiership run (including all cup competitions) as the best the club have seen in a long time or at all? I think it has to be. There have been other periods of relative success in the club's history (early seventies and late nineties notably) but none as prolonged as this and none with the pinnacle of a major trophy. I feel very fortunate to be witnessing it given where the club were only 30 years ago. We haven’t won at all this season in the league and haven’t won at home since February. On the other hand, you lot are third in the league, two points off the top of the table. What’s your prediction for Saturdays match? Dundee have deservedly beaten Saints on our last three visits to Dens Park. Does that mean we are due a result, or does it mean that Dundee have our number? I try not to make predictions but would say, with our good start to the season, I think a point would be absolutely fine for Saints. I'm expecting a big performance from Dundee though with the team still searching for that first win and Saints will need to play well to take something.
  11. With the Premiership season kicking off this Saturday at Dens against Ross County, we spoke to @jailender about the Staggies, his views on Billy McKay crossing the divide and how it’s felt to see his team go from playing in the Highland league to cementing their place in the Premiership. I'll ask what I've done with every other one of our guests so far. What made you become a Ross County fan? It’s an easy answer – They are my local team. I used to go periodically as a kid to their games when they were in the Highland League. I lived just down the road from Billy Ferries, who became a County legend in the late 80’s /early 90’s, and I used to travel with his Dad and brother to the games. I lived about 25 miles from Dingwall then, and couldn’t get to all the games When they were elected to the Scottish Football League I was that bit older and able to drive myself by then so I bought my first season ticket for that first season in the SFL. It's been some story for County since you joined the SFL/SPFL. Could you have ever imagined witnessing the success the club have had in such a short space of time? It has been a tremendous success story over the last 23 years. Even just being elected to the SFL was a success as at the time, the Inverness Franchise team were dead certs to be elected, and everyone else thought that the SFL would spread football around the country and take in a team from the Borders probably Gala Fairydean, so for both Highland teams to be elected was a surprise. Back then to think that 20 years later the club would be an established Premier League team and have won the League Cup was unthinkable, especially when you factor in that along the way the stadium pretty much also had to be built from scratch – something that very few other teams in the lower leagues have had to do. You've also managed to become a mainstay in the Premiership and will compete in this league for your 6th consecutive season. How does it feel to see the club cement their place in the top league? Being in the Premier league is nothing short of an honour. When you see some of the clubs that have failed to retain their Premier status over that same period, it makes you realise just exactly how well the club is doing. Each season fans expectations get bigger and bigger, but to be realistic County are punching well above their weight by being in the Premier League, and while some fans will want a top six finish, or to win one of the cups, a successful season for County is retaining their Premier League status – anything more is a bonus. Liam Boyce has been a thorn in many a clubs side the past few years and It seemed to feel like he scored against us in every visit. With him now sold, just how much of an impact will that have on the team? Liam Boyce will be a big loss to the club. He’s been the club’s top scorer for the last few seasons and he chipped in with 48% of our goals last season – so that is a huge gap to fill. Its more than his goals though, he was arguably one of the best footballing players at the club and his assists last season were largely forgotten because of the goals he scored. The responsibility will now fall on the rest of the team to chip in with goals. We’ve added Thomas Mikklesen and Billy Mckay to the team, hopefully they can form a partnership along with Craig Curran and Alex Schalk that will get the goals. Our other issue last season was that we needed to score at least two goals to get a point given that our defence wasn’t the best – early indications are we’ve tightened up at the back so hopefully we don’t need as many goals this season. We heard this week that Liam Boyce has suffered a knee injury at Burton Albion. I think it’s fair to say that the majority of County fans feel for him as they wanted him to succeed there just to prove how good the Scottish league actually is. Billy McKay eh? Inverness fans weren't too happy when he signed for you but how did County supporters take to the news? The news Billy Mckay signed wasn’t the biggest shock to County fans as it had been rumoured locally for a few weeks before. As for how the fans took the news, it was more of a “get it up ya” to the Inverness fans than a shock at signing one of their players. Over the years plenty of players have gone both ways over the Kessock Bridge, with the most notable being “Mr Caley” Ross Tokely signing, so fans are used to their players coming here. But in fairness if Billy Mckay scores as often for us as he did against us then he’ll soon win over the County fans. How have the other new signings fared so far in pre-season and the League Cup? It’s been hard to gauge the signings as most of our games have been against lower league opposition. Sean Kelly at left back looks to be a good addition, and fills what was one of our weaker areas last season. As mentioned before Thomas Mikklesen has joined as a striker and with people comparing him to Liam Boyce he is always going to struggle to be seen as a success unless he can match Boyce’s scoring feats. Midfield still seems to be a problem area for us. Jim O’Brien joining after being on loan last season is a good bit of business, but I still think we need a “thug” type of player in there – we’re sometimes too nice and get overrun by other teams! Can you tell us one player that Dundee should be weary of? Also, if you were able to pick a player from our team that would make the County team, who would it be? Once fit I think Billy Mckay will be seen as the main threat to any team we face, although I think the main driving force behind County this season will be Jim O’Brien – if you stop him playing you’ll probably stop us playing. Although Michael Gardyne has looked impressive in pre-season and always has the ability play that pass that will carve open any defence. As for what Dundee player I’d take at County – Sofien Moussa seems to have hit the ground running during the pre-season and league cup matches, so I’d have to say him What targets should the club be setting for the League and cup competitions this season? I touched on this earlier but I think being realistic, surviving in the Premier League has to be the main target. The league is probably the strongest it has been for many years. Hopefully we’ll not have the nervous end to the season and maybe a 7th place can be achieved again. Cups are probably our best chance of success, without trying to belittle the achievements of teams who win cups, but it really is just a case of winning five or six games, and in a one off situation we are capable of winning any game. It all depends on the luck of the draw as well, but cups runs are nice, so hopefully quarter or semi-finals this season. We face a rerun of the same opening day match last year but at the opposite venue. What's your prediction for this? Hopefully we do better than we did in last season’s opener where we were well and truly beaten. We do look better prepared this season than what we were 12 months ago, but Dens park is never an easy place to visit – I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends in a 1-1 draw. I think we can all agree that Celtic will win this league but who do you think will finish second, eleventh and twelfth? I agree Celtic will probably win the league, but not as easy as they did last season Second place is going to be tight, but I actually think Rangers will edge out Aberdeen for second place. 11th Place - I think will be Kilmarnock 12th Place – Everyone’s underdog I suspect and go for Hamilton.
  12. In the lead up to this clash, we spoke to popular Dons podcast, ByTheMinute Aberdeen, on their summer transfers, just how important it was that Derek McInnes stayed at Pittordrie, this seasons expectations and what the outcome will be between the Dark Blues and the Dons. Let us now about yourself. When did you start supporting Aberdeen, what made you support them and what’s your best memory and moment while following them? I've been a season ticket holder for coming up to 35 years now. Best moment? Following your team away from home in Europe is always special, and I was over in Dnipropetrovsk the night Darren Mackie's header sent us into the UEFA Cup Group Stages. Aberdeen lost some important players this summer such as Johnny Hayes, Niall McGinn and Ryan Jack. How disappointed was it to see these players leave the Dons? There was an inevitability about Jack and McGinn, while it seems that despite signing a new deal in January, McInnes was resigned to losing Jonny Hayes should the right bid be made. Hayes and McGinn had been absolutely key to the success of recent AFC teams so there was a definite wariness about approaching the new season without them. Ryan Jack has his critics, and, don't get me wrong, we'll revel in it if his Ibrox career is miserable, but he his style of play was central to the way McInnes set the side out. You did see the arrivals of Greg Stewart, Gary Mackay-Stevens, Ryan Christie and most recently, Stevie May. Do you feel that these players including the ones I haven’t mentioned have improved the squad? As I said re the departing players, there was a degree of trepidation approaching the new season, but the signings that have been made look like they are at least equal in quality to those players that have exited. Most of them fit the classic McInnes signing model, in that they were succesful in the SPFL, they moved down South, and things maybe haven't worked out as well as they could have done. Beyond the ones you've mentioned, I think Greg Tansey could have a big season for us, especially at set plays, while the re-signing of Kari Arnason was greeted with huge excitement among the support, although we've yet to see him make an impact on the pitch The club went out of the Europa Cup in the qualifying stages. What was the expectation levels going into this European campaign? From the team and management they kept repeating the claim that the aim was the Group Stages. From my point of view, I know how perilous and difficult it was going to be to get to that point. To fall two rounds short has to go down as a failure, particularly as Apollon Limassol, who knocked us out, weren't a great side. Aberdeen have started the season as expected with wins in their first two league games and through to the quarter finals of the league cup. A second place finish and maybe success in one of the cups must surely be the aims of the club this year? You always want to keep improving. 76 points in the league last season, let's see if we can hit 80-85 this one. No point looking at what other sides are up, just focus on what we can acheive. As for the cups, I'd probably give you one of my limbs for a Scottish Cup win. You feel that on top of the consistency in the league, another trophy could really energise the support and the North East in general to back their football team. How important was it that Derek McInnes stayed with the Dons after speaking to Sunderland back in June? Huge. I know Sunderland were in quite a state, but it's still quite a statement to turn down the opportunity that exists there (not to mention the hughely increased pay packet). However, as with Jonny Hayes, we've seen that signing a new deal only means so much, and we live in fear of another offer for him which is more appealing. West Brom is the one that's a constant worry. Dundee fans will know all too well the threat that Stewart and GMS bring to the table but what other player should we watch out for this weekend when the teams meet? Genuinely hard to say, as the options we now have going forward mean that he could play any number of different players. One you probably won't have seen is Scott Wright, and exciting young winger who came through our youth set-up. Everyone associated with the club is desperate for him to make good on some promising early performances. Our record up at Pittodrie the past few years has been, well, horrific. Don’t let this cloud your judgment when picking a winner though! So, what’s your predictions for this game? I think we'll win, but I think if you're to have any joy, the best plan might be to come out and have a go yourself. Our defence hasn't looked the most solid in the opening weeks.
  13. For this instalment of 'The View from the Opposition,' we spoke to Gavin from the Hibs Podcast team, HibsTalk. So how long has the HibsTalk Podcast been on the go for? We started HibsTalk back in May with a Season review. We listened to other Scottish Football Podcast, MFC Podcast is a very good one, took influence from them, put together a structure and are now into the flow of weekly podcasts. The club got back to the Premiership at the third time of asking last season and did so with ease. Were you surprised at the gap you won it by? No if I'm honest. We mentioned in our Season Review that Alan Stubbs finished behind The Rangers on 70 points, and Neil Lennon finished on 71. Okay, I may have expected United and Falkirk to have a higher points tally, but we drew too many games. It got us over the line though, that's the important thing. The club broke the 12,000 season tickets mark for the first time ever in July which is fantastic to see and as a Hibee, must make you proud to see the fans back the team in these number. Has this figure grown over the past month? It's been fantastic to see the fans flooding back. As long as we avoid performances like the one against Hamilton, hopefully the walk ups can continue to return and we can average 15k+ this season. That was the last figure I heard yeah. There have been quite a few players that have left this summer but with the likes of Ambrose, Stokes and Swanson signing up, you must feel that you have replaced the departing players with quality and not quantity? Neil Lennon and Leanne Dempster stuck to their word. Keep the core of the squad together giving new 2 year deals to many players, and adding quality with making Marciano and Ambrose permanent, bringing in Stokes and Swanson who are proven, as well as the likes of Slivka and Murray who look great additions. Overall fantastic window. Simon Murray has banged them in so far but is he the man to fill the void left by Jason Cummings? Between Murray, Stokes and Swanson from midfield, I believe we can find the net more than we did last season. So yes, Murray will be great, score goals and help fill that void, but I think anyone who says Murray is better than Cummings is off there head. You’ve started the season brightly, making it to the League Cup quarter finals and victories over Partick and Rangers in the league. Last week though, Hamilton grabbed a win which must have busted plenty a coupon around the country. Do you think that this result was maybe a little nudge to the fans that most teams are capable of taking points from each another in the league? Some fans may have needed to learn to respect other teams more, but I feel the majority of fans are in the know and are aware every team in this league is dangerous and anyone can beat anyone...bar Celtic, they just beat everybody. We know what type of impact that Stokes, Swanson and Murray can have on a game but is there anyone else that has flown under the radar that us Dees should be worried about? Slivka. He never started against Hamilton after a commanding performance against The Rangers. I feel he'll be back. He's came through at Juventus, had loan spells in Serie B. He's a starter for Lithuania, looks like he can control the game, good pass on him. Excited about him this season. Now that you have that burden of not winning the Scottish Cup in over 100 years (It’s now been passed onto us so thanks for that), what’s the targets for this Hibernian team this season? Another Cup? I know Livingston well, they will be a tough game but at home we have to be favourites. Celtic have to be beaten eventually so the League Cup/Scottish Cup again and a high finish. I'd like to see us battle with The Rangers and Aberdeen for second but if you offered me fourth, close to them ahead of Hearts, I'd probably take it as a first season back. How would you rate the job Neil Lennon has done for you so far? Solid. I'm not his biggest fan as a manager, and by that I mean behaviours. I didn't like him at Celtic as a player or as a manager, and I'm not going to change my mind because he's at Hibs. However he's ambitious, he's a winner and he's exactly what the club needs right now. And if he keeps up the job he's doing, you won't find me moaning about him being there. Believe it or not, it’s been just under five years since Hibs last played at Dens. I remember you were top of the league while we were bottom but we managed to win 3-1 that day. You might not be quite top but we’re definitely bottom. Can we see a repeat scoreline? What’s your prediction for this match? I predicted 2-2 for the weekend on the Podcast, but hope I'm wrong. I feel we need a win to get back on track. However I've seen a few of your games, you create chances, especially with Scott Allan in the team. And it's just a matter of time before they start going in. El Bakhtaoui is a goalscorer, give him confidence and continue to supply him, the net will start to bulge. Plus I feel you've found a real gem in Roarie Deacon. If our defending is a repeat of Saturday, then your strikers will get the time and space to finish those chances. Hopefully for us we improve. Best of luck to the season. I predicted you guys for 6th so let's hope it's a slow start and your season gets started after the International Break.
  14. There has been major changes since the last time we locked horns with the Glasgow club so we caught up with Craig Gamble from Burst Baw Podcast to fill in with what's been happening around the club. First off, what's the origins behind you supporting Rangers? I've been a Rangers fan for as long as I can remember and got into it through my Dad. My whole family are Rangers fans, so there was only ever going to be one team for me. The first time I remember going to Ibrox was for Ian Durrant's testimonial against Sheffield Wednesday in April 1998 when I was only four years old. The game finished 2-2 and I don't really remember much else apart from having to leave early as my Grandma wasn't feeling well - the full Gamble clan were at this one. Thankfully auld Cathy made a full recovery, and I've been hooked ever since. This summer has seen a fair amount of transfer activity at Ibrox. What signings has excited you the most and what departures have you been disappointed to see leave? I'd have to say I'm starting to get excited about Alfredo Morelos, he's only 20 years old and already looks like he could be some player for us. Must admit I was unsure about him in his first few games when he was getting caught offside more often than he was touching the ball, but he really seems to be settling in now and he's scoring goals. He puts himself about and knows where the back of the net is, which is exactly the type of player we need. A slightly more left-field one would be Ryan Jack. He's not the most exciting player, but he's the kind of player I love. He reminds me a bit of Kevin Thomson. You know you're getting 110% from him every week and he's exactly what was missing - amongst many other things - from our midfield last season. Breaks up the play, gets stuck in to the tackle and on the ball he can set up attacks and link the defence and midfield really well - I think he's a great signing. The one I'm most disappointed about leaving is Barrie McKay. I'm sure most Rangers fans would say the same, but unfortunately I don't think we had much choice in the end and the player wanted away. He is definitely a talent and I'm sure he'll continue to do well down south and go on to bigger things. I just hope a lovely big sell-on clause was a part of that Forest deal. The club failed at the first hurdle in the Europa League. This was obviously not in the script but how far did you think the team could get to? I was optimistic before and thought that if our signings could come in a gel quickly, and if the draw was kind to us, we had a good chance of reaching at least the final qualifying rounds and maybe even the group stages. Me and a few pals had started pricing up four days in Ayia Napa for what would have been the Limassol tie, so I think it's fair to say we thought we'd at least make it to that stage... How would you rate the start of your season so far? It's been a mixed bag so far to say the least. Obviously starting off with our worst ever result in the Progres game wasn't exactly ideal. Then one point from six in our first two home games wasn't good enough either. But there has been plenty of positives as well. We look like a better, more organised team and ground out a good win away to Motherwell, and then had a comfortable win up at Ross County who we had trouble scoring against never mind beating last season. So aye, it's been a bit of a rollercoaster already. Out of ten I'd give it a five so far. Pedro Caixinha reign is firmly underway. I’m not sure if this is something that some fans think but a few of my mates who support Rangers don’t see him as the man to take the Ibrox club forward. Are they the minority and how do you feel so far about Pedro? It's hard to say whether they are in the minority. I think the jury is still out on Caixinha amongst a lot of fans, and for good reason to be fair. But until it's absolutely clear that he is not the man to take the club forward then he'll get the full backing of the Rangers support. I'm behind Pedro 100%, and I think he is the right man for the job. What do you hope to see him achieve this season with the club? I think our minimum targets for the season should be second place and closing the gap on Celtic. We can't help what happens in their games against the other teams so obviously closing the gap means taking points off them in Old Firm games. I'd also like to see us win a cup. There will obviously be a lot of new faces in your squad. Can you pick out one player Dundee fans aren’t familiar with that we should be weary of? Daniel Candeias is one that you won't be familiar with. Him and Tavernier are forming a nice partnership down the right hand side and I think their link up will cause a lot of defences problems this season. I don’t know if you have saw much of the Dundee team so far but, if you could pick one of our players to play for your team, who would it be? I've always been impressed by Cammy Kerr anytime I've watched Dundee play this season and last. He's a tidy player and the kind of no nonsense, shirt-tucked-in style full back that I like, and he gets involved going forward as well. I saw that he signed a contract extension at the start of the season and you will be hoping he's at Dundee for even longer. I think he's definitely got a big future ahead of him. Finally, what’s your score predictions for Saturday? It'll be a difficult game for us and I'm expecting the same kind of organised performance from Dundee that they put in against Aberdeen a few weeks back, when they were unlucky not to get a point. But I'm hoping that the international break hasn't stopped our momentum after the County win and we need to get our first home win on the board - so I'll go for 3-0 Rangers. You can follow Craig and Burst Baw on Twitter by clicking on these links: https://twitter.com/craig_gamble93 https://twitter.com/burstbawpodcast
  15. This coming Wednesday sees both clubs fighting it out for a place in the Betfred League Cup Quarter Final at Dens. We managed to catch up again with @DabChat to give his perspective from the other side of the street. United got their League campaign off to a flyer on Saturday with a 1-0 victory over Inverness Caley Thistle. How did they team preform? Yes it was a great start against one of the teams who are expected to challenge and away from home. We played some good stuff but it was clear we were still lacking. No recognised striker until Keatings came on and a few players who would have played suspended so all pleasing. Last week saw Cammy Bell leave the club though not before some light hearted ribbing about the tweet that the club sent out. Will he be a loss for the squad? Yes Cammy is away, it was clear him and his agent were trying to force a move and who can blame him. 4 hours travelling a day just to train is not ideal. I am pleased with how the club handled it, this it was announced on Twitter is rubbish, it was on the club website to let the fans know the situation. It's all been blown out of proportion but the facts remain. The boy wanted away, the club posted letting the fans know they would listen to offers. Personally I felt he was overrated. Consistently let the defence down by not coming for crosses and it cost us in big games. The young lad Lewis from Southampton has looked good so far so all good. The Fraser Fyvie saga then drew to a close and he signed up to be a Dundee United player. What will he add to your midfield? Fyvie is a player I've rated for a long time and am delighted we finally got the deal done. A box to box midfielder who can pass and create. Fyvie, Briels, Stanton, Flood and Allardice We now have depth in that area and Ray can now pick and choose which games he has to play Flood. Last season he was overplayed in my opinion and ended up burnt out, losing form at the business end of the season, so that wasn't ideal. The first Dundee Derby ended in a 1-1 draw with United taking the bonus point in a 4-3 penalty shout-out win. How did it feel to see the return of these games? The last Derby was class. A great build up, quality atmosphere and ultimately an entertaining game. You just need to look at the attendance to see what it means to the fans. With your season ticket sales reportedly struggling ,another Derby so soon will be a welcome bonus financially for both sides. You finished top of Group C to win the right to be the seeded team and then were drawn against us again at Dens Park. Were you happy with this draw? I like the new cup set up however the one grumble would be around the seeding for the draw. It would make more sense for the seeded teams to play at home, that way if you do well in your group you get rewarded. Either that or you can't draw the other team that came out of your group would also make sense. With Dundee being beat at the weekend and the way United have started their campaign, along with their form in the League Cup, will confidence be riding high at Tannadice that they can claim the victory and a place in the Quarter Finals on Wednesday night? We should be confident. Ray has put together a very capable squad and in my opinion, a far better looking squad than the team that got us relegated a couple of years ago. It's a Derby though so confidence means very little. It's all about who wants it most, which team wins the individual battles and ultimately which team takes their chances. You just need to look at the last game. You's dominated for large parts of the game but still never created that many clear cut chances. You played without a recognised striker in our last meeting but will you be hopeful that James Keating and Scott McDonald will fit enough to make this game? Hearing that all three strikers trained today, Keatings, McDonald and Nkoyi, so that's fantastic news. I'd expect none of them will be fit enough to play the full 90 so I'd expect Keatings to start and get 50-60 mins and McDonald to come on from the bench for the final 30. Not only is that great for our striking options but also in terms of getting McMullan back to his preferred wide position. Let's hope he gives young Kerr a torrid time. Paul McMullan showed he was a threat against us last time. Even though we struggled at times to create one ourselves, what player would you be keeping an eye out for on Wednesday? Heard big Moussa took a sore one at the weekend, that could be a blessing in disguise for your lot. He didn't impress versus us in the last game. In fact, he made it very easy for big Edge and Durnan to play against him. They relish fighting high balls and the physical challenge. It's when teams get the ball down and turn them that they struggle. The one player who did catch the eye was the fast winger Deacon. You can see how he ended up on Arsenals books. He got at Scobbie all game but fortunately for us, his end product wasn't the best. If he gets that right this week, he could end up having a big say in the match outcome. For us, I'm hoping that with Keatings starting and McMullan wide, this allows us to start Frasier in the hole. He gets a tough time from our own fans but the boy has bags of ability, can end up being the match winner with his trickery and hopefully get some of the boo boys off his case. Who do you think will proceed from the other League Cup ties? Celtic will cruise past Killie, Livi to cause an upset away against Falkirk, Hibs with a comfortable win, Thistle on pens, Aberdeen will beat Hamilton, Rangers in extra time, Ross County home win. Oh and of course the Dabs to progress. It may go to pens again though.
  16. We spoke to Hamilton Accies fans Twitter page WeAreHamilton to ask them about how their transfer activity has went this summer, how it felt winning the play-off final and what player we should look out for today. So, what made you support Hamilton? What drew you to the club? With both my mum and dads families being divided between the Old Firm it didn't look likely that I would turn out to be an accies fan, however for the first 11 years of my life, I was raised within a mere 3 minute walk to NDP (New Douglas Park). One of my best friends, God rest his soul, John Paterson lived below me in the flats and his dad is the man who runs The Accies away supporters bus. So pretty much since a very young age, my Saturdays were occupied by going both home and away to the games with him. My first accies game was 19 years ago when I was 3. What’s your feelings on the clubs transfer activity this summer? If I’m right in saying, there hasn’t been a lot of coming and goings for the Accies? The transfer window is meant to be one of the most exciting times to be a football fan. Unfortunately with accies there is very rarely anything to get excited about and this season in particular has been even more dire than usual. Managing to get Skondoras signed on for another year was very pleasing. The only signing so far Xavier Tomas has looked really shaky in the games I have seen him and he doesn't look upto much whatsoever but hopefully that will change. We only have one first team striker currently and he certainly isn't going to score more than 8 goals this season. We've been crying out all window to bring at least one in and still we're yet to do anything. But as per usual we will wait to the very end, if not after the window and bring someone in who hasn't been able to tie down a club anywhere else. Do you feel the team has improved from the season before? Definitely not. You kept your Premiership status with a play-off final win over Dundee United. How was the nerves going into these matches and was the outcome expected within the ranks of Hamilton fans? I would be lying if I said I wasn't sh*ting myself. I didn't give us much of a hope whatsoever. After the first match in which I thought we played brilliant that made the nervousness even worse because I felt since we didn't get that crucial goal at Tannadice, it was going to come back and bite us. But we got there eventually and what a feeling it was to say we've managed to stay in the top league once again and prove everyone wrong as per usual. I don't think you'll find many accies fans that could say they were confident going into the tie. You kicked off your Premiership season with a defeat to Aberdeen and that was followed by another loss to the Dons midweek, this time in the League Cup. How did Accies perform despite the defeats? The first game I felt we actually played very well for the most part of the game, however I think we could have played for another week and wouldn't have scored. We didn't threaten whatsoever and if we don't sort that ASAP we are certain for the drop. Getting the red card obviously didn't help us but Aberdeen were deserving winners despite the good effort from most players. The second game I thought we were well and truly hopeless. The centre half partnership of Sarris and Tomas was scary to watch for the most of it. It was another game of having nothing in final third to threaten. We weren't up to much whatsoever and again Aberdeen deserved the win. One good thing to come from the game was the performance of youngsters Scott Mcmann and Steven Boyd. Mcmann has came on to a fantastic game the past season and is by far one of our most consistent players, you very rarely get a bad performance from the boy. Wee Boydy is one to watch aswell, a great young talent. I can see really good things coming from him in the next few seasons. We’ve have seen some pretty tasty encounters between Dundee and Hamilton in the past. What one stands out the most for you? Recently we've had a lot of crucial victories against Dundee. They have been wins that have been more relief than anything and have been celebrated extra special. It's a tough decision cause I've got a few, but the Dundee game that stands out most would be two seasons ago when we won 1-0 at dens to stay up. Carlton Morris got the winner and it meant we secured safety for another season. As you say, most Accies Dundee games seem to be fiesty ones, like a small derby. What player from each side should the other consider a threat? Accies - Easy, Ali Crawford. Dundee - Faissal El Bakhtaoui. He didn't have the best opening season with yous last year but I think this season he will definitely rekindle the form he did for Dunfermline. What would you like to see Hamilton achieve this season? If our board showed a little bit of ambition and spent money on bringing in a decent few players I think we could definitely fight it out for a comfortable position however, that won't be the case. If you offered me safety once again just now then I would take it in a heartbeat. I would love to go on a good Scottish Cup run, to see Accies at Hampden would be a dream come true for pretty much every single fan. Most importantly, what’s your score predictions for Saturday? With the lack of threat up top, unfortunately my prediction for Saturdays game is Accies 0-2 Dundee.
  17. Our first guest to take part is Raith Rover fan and Terrace Podcast contributor, Andy Harrow. Dundee take on Raith Rovers at Starks Park this Tuesday in the Betfred Cup, KO 7:45pm .Read what Andy had to say! To kick off this new feature, as a lifelong Raith Rovers fan, what’s your first memories of supporting the club? The first game my Dad took me to was the 7-0 victory over St. Mirren on the opening match of the 1992/93 season, but the memory of my second game is more vivid – a 5-0 shellacking to Kilmarnock at Rugby Park in the Scottish Cup. Our goalkeeper got injured, which meant tough-tackling central midfielder, Davie Sinclair, spent the majority of the game between the sticks. He was utterly abject. To make matters worse, we had a man sent off and Bobby Williamson scored a hat-trick. Last season saw Rovers lose their Championship status in the play offs. Did you think the club would be fighting relegation last term? Not initially, no! We’d finished fourth the previous season and although the appointment of Gary Locke tempered expectations, we should have finished no worse than seventh with the bones of the same squad. After a promising start, our form fell off a cliff and we didn’t win a single game between November and February. By that stage, it was pretty clear we were in serious trouble. The appointment of John Hughes, with hindsight, did nothing to help slow our descent to League One and the play-off defeat to Brechin was as depressing as it was predictable. John Hughes left almost immediately after your relegation was confirmed and replaced with Barry Smith by a few weeks later. Were you happy with Smith’s appointment and what was the general view of the fans regarding it? If the reaction to Barry Smith’s appointment could be described in a single gesture, it would be a shrug. He’s not a particularly exciting appointment – he’s not an especially young manager and his recent track record isn’t stellar – but he showed at Dundee he’s capable of galvanising a squad and achieving success, so fans are willing to give him a chance. Plus, he’s neither Gary Locke nor John Hughes, so he’s immediately got that going for him. Understandably, there has been a good few coming and goings through the doors at Starks Park. Are you happy with the deals that have been done so far? The most surprising aspect this pre-season is how few new signings we’ve made. The two strikers we’ve brought in –Liam Buchanan and Ramsden’s Cup hero, Greig Spence – look astute transfers, given the number of goals they pilfered in League One last season, while our new centre half, Euan Murray, looks competent. Otherwise, the bulk of the squad from last season have signed on for a shot at redemption. It’s also a big season for our young players to prove themselves, especially Ross Callachan and Lewis Vaughan. Both have offered glimpses of their talent and, assuming we don’t loan either to a league rival in January, it’s a chance to prove they can deliver on a consistent basis. What’s the aim for Raith Rovers this season in the League? Promotion as champions. As one of only three full-time clubs (including a shambolic Airdrie), we should be near the top throughout, but our record in the playoffs (no wins, ever) means we need to secure top spot. I can’t see us staying full-time if we spend a second season in League One. How do you feel the new format of the Betfred League Cup has gone so far? I like it, actually. It gives each team a few juicy fixtures at the start of the season and last year’s version threw up quite a few surprises (as I’m sure you’ll remember…) As us Dundee fans know, it can throw up a few cup upsets. With Group B consisting of Dundee Raith, Dundee United, Cowdenbeath and Buckie Thistle, is their potential for a few shocks? Would Dundee losing to their city neighbours be an upset these days? Otherwise, Raith are probably best placed – we’ve improved as pre-season has progressed and beat Ross County on penalties in this competition last season. Buckie Thistle might beat Cowdenbeath, given how poor the Blue Brazil were last season. Can you name a player from each team that the opposition should be wary of? Dundee – it would be just the thing for Craig Wighton to deliver his best ever display at Stark’s Park. Otherwise, I’ve seen footage of the punch Randy Wolters packs, so I’d be a bit wary of him too. Dundee United – James Keatings once scored a hat-trick at Stark’s and should be a shrewd signing for United. Cowdenbeath – A Cowdenbeath-supporting friend has suggested Cammy Muirhead. He came through the Fife Academy and scored against Buckie. Buckie Thistle – I would be lying if I said I knew any of Buckie’s players. Who do you think will reach the final of the League Cup and eventually win the trophy? It’s hard to see past Celtic given their form last season and Hearts will be the ceremonial whipping boys in the final. How do you think Dundee will do in the League this season after struggling last term? Another season of bottom-six misery, I’m afraid. Hamilton will surely – surely! – be relegated in the automatic berth this season, but Dundee’s squad still looks relatively weak. Admittedly, Scott Allen seems a good signing and a few of the news guys are relative unknown quantities, so it might depend how useful they are.
  18. The new format to the League Cup has opened the door for the Champions of the Highland League and Lowland League to compete. What’s the buzz like around the club and fans now that Thistle will be competing in a National cup competition? It was a great idea by the SPFL to allow the Champions in to the Betfred Scottish League Cup. The buzz around the town has been great and the fans have been looking forward to the games. The only thing missing would have been perhaps a Saturday home game especially against Dundee or United. Your first two games against Cowdenbeath and Dundee United have ended Dundee or United in defeat. How do you think Buckie preformed in both despite the losses? We actually performed quite well in the first game but we conceded a couple of poor headed goals which didn't help our cause but scoring twice was great for our travelling support. We lost the fourth goal late when we went to three at the back and looked like grabbing an equaliser. I think Cowdenbeath were a bit flattered by the score line. Playing into a howling gale and pouring rain in the first half didn't help especially as the wind abated and the rain went off in the second half. United appeared fitter and faster than us in the first half, in saying that, we had two decent chances which had we taken them may have put a bit of doubt in their minds. However we got to grips with them in the second half and certainly held our own. We actually performed well in the second half. Hopefully two games against higher opposition within three days will not tell against us. What do you think the club expected to achieve in the group stages? On speaking to the manager, he had his sights firmly set on our Highland League opening match, and was going to use these matches to improve the overall and match fitness of our squad. In saying that he also sets ambitious goals for the team but being realistic the game against Cowdenbeath was our best opportunity to take points. Had we played them in our final game there might have been a different outcome. Our stadium may not be the biggest in Scottish football but will the players be looking forward to playing in a bigger venue than they are accustomed to in the Highland League? Players are definitely looking forward to the game. Who knows this might be their only opportunity to play on a Premier League ground. Having been to Dens before you're stadium looks pretty big to me! I'm sure it will take our players time to adjust to an enclosed stadium compared to the Highland League pitches. You are the current Highland League Champions. Now that the pyramid structure is in place, does the club see itself aiming to reaching the SPFL? Maybe one day emulating the achievements of Inverness Caley Thistle and Ross County? Pyramid structure sounds great but when the reality hits home of having to travel to Annan/Berwick etc. midweek we might have second thoughts. In saying that Elgin seem to be having the best crowds in their division over the last few seasons and we could certainly compete with them. If there was regionalisation for the two bottom leagues (like the Betfred Cup) this might put a different complexion on the way we view things. It is great to see our old foes from yesteryear competing so well in the top leagues. What will the Buckie Thistle fans hopes for this season be? Back-to-back Title wins? I'm sure the fans will be looking for us to win the title again but many of them are realistic and realise that it was a tremendous feat to win the league last year against teams with more financial resources and access to wider playing pools. We suffered injuries to four or five key players at the tail end of last season. Two of them are definitely out long term but if the others make it for the start of the season allied to our new signings - you never know !! If you could name one Buckie Thistle player to watch out for, who would it be? Also, if you could pick one Dundee player to tell Buckie to be careful of, who would you point out? Kevin Fraser was voted Highland League player of the year so he is definitely one to keep an eye open for. He is the captain of the team and plays central midfield. He is slight of frame but makes up for this with plenty of skill, guts and determination. Darren O'Dea - With his experience he seems to have galvanised your team. Not only by shoring up your defence but also a danger in the opposition box at set pieces What players would you tell Dundee to be weary of from the two teams you have already encountered, Cowdenbeath and Dundee United? Difficult to say for Cowdenbeath - they were more a workmanlike team with no outstanding individuals - in my opinion. As I said earlier, Dundee United being a full time team all looked fitter and sharper than us in the first half and their forward players, McMullan, King and Keatings gave us plenty of problems. Can you give us your prediction on who you think will reach the League Cup Final and eventually lift the trophy? I think it will be the same teams as last year, unfortunately I have to say Celtic with Aberdeen as runners-up. Now the big prediction. Who will come out on top between our two teams on Saturday? Well now that is a difficult question. What we are hoping for is that there is a large crowd especially as it is Dundee's first competitive home game. The winners will be................Dundee. Thank you to David for taking time out and speaking to The Dark Blues Website.
  19. We spoke to fellow twitter football page, DabChat and ask his views on the current crop at Tannadice and his prediction for Sunday. So, to start things off, give us a little insight to what made you support Dundee United and your earliest memory of them? I started following United over 30 years ago, my first memories were sitting on the wall at the Fair Play stand watching Narey, Hegarty, Sturrock, Dodds and the likes. Back then it was easy to get hooked. Both sides of my family supported United so it was never likely to be anyone else. It’s been a bit of a nightmare few seasons for the Arabs. In the short space of winning the Scottish Cup, playing in Europe for three consecutive seasons and reaching the Scottish and League Cup Finals, you suffered relegation for the first time in 20 years. Where did it go wrong for the club? Our chairman has been highly criticised over the past two years from our own fans and rightly so. For me though his biggest mistake was showing too much faith in McNamara and giving him too much time to try and turn it round. The amount of players he allowed the then manager to sign was crazy. Most of which were on far too much (money) for their ability levels and still we find them on the wage bill now two years later. Stephen Thompson should have sacked Jackie McNamara much earlier. The Stevie Campbell situation as well as other goings on at the club had shown things were not right behind the scenes. Last season seen heartbreak with defeat to Hamilton in the play-off final. Did you think United would bounce back at the first attempt? I was always confident that we would make the play offs. The hope early in the season was that we would find form going into the crucial games although I was always worried about the depth and balance of the team. Eventually that was to be our downfall. Andreu was undroppable just in case he produced that bit of magic that would win the game/tie which meant we were trying to shoehorn him into the side wide in a position that was clearly alien to him. Murray and Mikkelson were scoring goals but with Fraser out injured it was the lack of creativity behind them that was clearly evident. No pace, no width and crucially no promotion. This summer has seen McKinnon being very active in the transfer market. He came under some criticism from some sections of the Tannadice support with regards to his tactics etc. Now that he has his own players in, are you expecting to see a different team and approach this season? Yes, Ray has had his critics and to be fair he brought a lot of the criticism on himself. Last season the squad was unbalanced. No wide players and abundance of players who all played in similar positions meaning they either didn't play or they played out of position. However with the addition of King and McMullan and Keatings this season, we have players who have the ability to play wide, have a bit of pace and like to go at defenders. These two will get fans out of their seats for sure. Last season seen us fail to beat teams who set up with two banks of four players and asked us to break them down. Although we had the best home record in the league it was on the road that we struggled with the lack of creativity in the side. That's where it seems we have a better balance going into this season so a lot of credit has to go to the manger for his dealings pre-season and the work that has gone in to getting these deals done early. No doubt you will have United tipped to challenge for the title but who will be your main challengers? Not only do I think we will win the league but I am quiet confident we will win it comfortably. Falkirk will be the biggest challengers again. They have proven they are a good team in this league with limited resources. ICT and St Mirren will be there abouts and I think Livi could be the surprise package and throw up a few upsets. What player will Dundee have to be wary of and vice versa for United? McMullan has been the pick of the players for me this pre-season and has chipped in with a few goals so I'd hope that he has a good game. However we all know that derbies can be tight, scrappy affairs and my hope is that we are strong in that department and I’m hoping Jordi Briels can impose himself on the game with his tough tackling and willingness to drive the team forward. He and San Stanton will need to be on top form for us to show we can compete. Moussa seems to be the player getting the plaudits for the Dee's and rightly so as he's scored a few now. It will be interesting to see how Durnan and Edge deal with him. My Derry mates have been impressed with the boy Kamara so it will be interesting to see how he gets on. How do you feel the new format of the League Cup has went? The new cup set up has been ok. To be fair, most of the team’s play the local wee teams in per season anyway so it's not changed much, just added the competitive edge. The only thing I don't like is some clubs getting a bye for being in Europe. These teams should play their youth teams in the early stages but should be included. We’ve asked everyone this question but who do you think will be at Hampden for the final and who will lift the trophy? I really can't see anyone beating Celtic again this season. Brendon Rodgers has taken them to a new level so I'd expect them to make the final and I'll go with Aberdeen as the opponents. This will be the first time in 60 odd years that both teams meet with Dundee playing in a higher division than our neighbours. It’s a new scenario for both sets of fans but do you think this will impact the game or will we see a good old fashion derby where form and league position goes out the window? The weeks before, the banter filled texts float back and forward, the conversations about which players are on form and who will make a telling contribution for their side to give them the edge. Meeting in the boozer pre-match as the butterflies start to churn in the stomach, the walk to the ground and the 'hope your team get pumped' pre-match farewell outside the ground before heading through the turnstile. Hoping you don't have to head back to the pub post-match awaiting the verbal if you don't get the result. For me, nothing compares. These games are the best games there is and the sooner we are back playing at least 4 a season, the better. Finally, your last match at Dens is one you no doubt would like to forget but what’s your prediction for Sunday’s game? Will United get revenge and finish the group on top or will Dundee continue their good run of form against the Arabs at Dens? For this Derby all the pressure is on Dundee, we are the wee team in the diddy league, they are the SPFL side. This might play as an advantage for us. Not many of our players will have experienced a Derby so it's all new to them. If Flood and McDonald had a few games under their belt and Keatings wasn't injured I'd be fairly confident but it looks like none of them will start. Young Matty Smith looked very good last week but it was against Cowdenbeath. I would love the win as it would give the team a lot of confidence going into the season. I’m going to go for a draw and United to win on penalties and top the group, a result most Arabs would probably bite your hand off for pre match! A massive thank you to Dabchat for taking time out to answer our questions.
  20. Can you tell me what helped you become a Cowdenbeath fan and what your earliest memory of supporting the Blue Brazil is? My Dad is from Cowdenbeath so I was brought up supporting them and getting taken to games on a Saturday. It was a case of my team was chosen for me rather than I chose my team. The earliest memory I have was beating Arbroath 6-2 at Central Park at the beginning of the 94/95 season. I’m sure the game was fairly early on in the season and as you’d expect, I was pretty optimistic about the season. We ended up finishing 9th in Division 3 which was the first season of the then new league format. What's your opinions on the new League Cup format that is currently in its second year? I’ve got mixed feelings. On one hand, the games are more meaningful than friendlies and they attract bigger crowds which then in turn generates more gate money which, as a smaller club, is very welcome. On the other hand, being a fourth seed club means that you are going to have three higher ranked clubs in the same group. These higher ranked clubs are likely to be full time so they will be a lot further along in their pre-season schedule which means they should be a lot fitter and that can show in the results. It can be a bit demoralising when you’re trying to get the team ready for the League campaign. You kicked off your League campaign against Buckie Thistle. Was there much of a gap between yourself and the Highland Champions? They certainly gave us a few nervy moments. Honestly, the game was a lot easier than I was expecting. Having narrowly missing out to East Kilbride in the Highland/Lowland League Play Off last season, I thought it would be a hard fought game which would maybe go to penalties. In reality, Buckie took an early lead through a silly mistake but we then looked fairly comfortable. Buckie’s second goal was also preventable and in the end, we could have had 6 or 7. When the draw was made for the group stages, what was the goal or highest finish the club would be hoping for? I think realistically fourth but with the chance of sneaking third. Dundee and Dundee United are both full time clubs and Raith Rovers are a hybrid of full and part time players so it was always going to be a tough group. You enjoyed a good few seasons in Division One/Championship. I believe this was the Cowdenbeath’s best run in the Divisions since the introduction of the four leagues in 1994? I’d use the term enjoyed loosely. It was great seeing us competing so high up the leagues but seeing your team suffer defeat after defeat isn’t fun. There were a few highlights over the four seasons we were in the second tier though – namely avoiding relegation at New Douglas Park and THAT win at East End Park. 10/11 was our first season in the Division One/Championship since the disastrous 92/93 season and came about because of Livingston getting sent to Division Three. It all happened fairly late on so we had prepared for life in Division Two. As you can imagine, it wasn’t a great season but we managed to avoid bottom spot and were relegated through the Play Offs after Dundee overturned their 25 point deduction. We bounced back up to Division One as Champions the following season and then had three seasons in Division One/Championship with an element of luck again involved. We narrowly avoided the relegation Play Offs in 12/13, thanks in part to a point deduction given to Dunfermline. 13/14 saw us defeat The Pars in the Play Off final with Greg Stewart scoring the third goal to secure us a season in the Championship with Hearts, Hibs and Rangers. 14/15 saw the start of our decline as we finished bottom of the League and were relegated to League 1 on the final day of the season despite going into the last game sitting in 8th. I vividly remember defeats at your ground in 2010-11 and 2013-14, could we be adding 2017-18 to that list? I remember those games as well. Brian Fairbairn got the winner back in 2010/11 with a free kick on the stroke of half time. Davie Hay was brilliant in goals for us and played on with a broken nose. Then in 2013/14, Greg Stewart got the winner when he ran through and slotted home to earn himself a move to Dens Park. Will we see a Cowdenbeath win on Wednesday? Probably not but anything is possible. Our squad is really small and being supplemented by development players - Kyle Miller was our oldest outfield player on Saturday past at age 24. Clubs like us rely on loans but at this stage, clubs are still building their own squads before deciding which players are surplus to requirements and can go out on loan. This means we are stretched personnel wise and have already picked up a few injuries to Jack Whittaker (broken foot) and David McGurn (thigh strain) so playing three tough games against full time teams in the space of 6 days is a big ask for the players. You’re currently competing in League Two and just managed to escape playing in the Lowlands League after beating East Kilbride on penalties in the play-off final. How much of a relief was it to retain your SPFL status? If we had been relegated, it’s highly likely that the club wouldn’t still exist or at least not in the same capacity. It was far too close for comfort – we were minutes away from potential obscurity. At the end of the East Kilbride game, there was no celebration from the fans or players. It was just as you say, relief. Hopefully we never end up in that situation again. What's the aim of the club for the up-and-coming season? Some stability. We were relegated from the Championship and then League 1 in consecutive seasons before finishing bottom of League 2 last season so a mid table finish which we can build on next season would be satisfactory. Ideally we’d be looking to push for a promotion Play Off place but it’s still early days with regarding to assembling the squad – I’d imagine there will be a couple of other signings and a few loans as well – so it’s difficult to see how realistic a top half finish is. Who do you think will reach the final and eventually win the League Cup? I think we’ll probably be looking at a Celtic v Aberdeen final again this season. Celtic have strengthened from last season where they were undefeated domestically and although Aberdeen lost Hayes, McGinn and Jack, they’ve brought in Stewart, Mackay-Steven, Maynard and Christie (on loan) as well as shored up their defence with the return of Kari Arnason so it’s hard to see past the two of them.
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