Dunfermline’s Double DealDate: Friday, 13th Jul 2018
Dinah Washington’s song title, What A Difference A Day Makes, really sums up the feeling of Pars fans heading into the new season as Allan Johnston made 2 new signings within the space of 24 hours.
As Dunfermline prepared for their match against Motherwell – the final pre-season friendly of the campaign for the Fifers’ first-team squad – it was announced at 5pm that Faissal El Bakhtaoui had returned to the club on a season-long loan deal.
While the striker has struggled over the past 24 months, following his move to Dens Park, the French-Moroccan remains a firm fans favourite at DAFC. The 25-year-old began his career with Racing Club de la Baie in his homeland but he was snapped up by then gaffer Jim Jefferies in the summer of 2012. After appearing as a trialist and impressing players, staff and fans alike with his directness, pace and trickery, the attacker was signed to a 2-year deal.
Following successive seasons of gradually building up his status within the first-team squad, ‘Faiss’ got his chance to make his mark under Allan Johnston and the forward didn’t disappoint. Scoring more than 30 goals to lead Dunfermline to the League One title, El Bakhtaoui’s reputation grew as one of the biggest talents within the Scottish game.
The Saint-Tropez born striker has returned to East End Park, beaming with joy as he sat in the Main Stand watching the sun shine in the Kingdom as Fife during the match against the Steelmen. Now, the loanee will be hoping to make his second debut against Peterhead in the opening match of the BetFred Cup Group Stages on Tuesday evening.
After many happy and joyous posts on the forum, fans were waking up to the news of another new signing being readied. Rumours flew around that it was a familiar face – and foe – of DAFC, Myles Hippolyte. The Englishman became the villain to many after diving during a league match against the Pars in 2016. A penalty decision enraged the Dunfermline players and supporters alike and the dislike of the ex-Brentford youngster began.
Before joining Livingston, the winger had spells with Southall, Tamworth, Hayes & Yeading and Burnham. The Lions gave Hippolyte a platform to shine upon and he certainly made an impression on Scotland’s second-tier: after 18-months, Myles left Livi to join Falkirk under the guidance of Peter Houston. A relatively successful spell saw the winger scoring 10 goals in 52 appearances for the Bairns, but, new gaffer Paul Haetley allowed the 23-year-old to depart The Falkirk Stadium six months ago as he joined title-chasing St Mirren.
Jack Ross’ men signed Myles up until May 2019 but the attacker found playing opportunities and match-minutes hard to come by. After Ross left for Sunderland with assistant manager James Fowler, Hippolyte was deemed surplus to requirements by new boss Allan Stubbs. That allowed Johnston to sweep in and bring the forward player to East End Park for the coming season.
Hippolyte will be out to prove himself following the histrionics between himself and the club previously, but, thankfully, most Athletic fans are willing to give the pacey attacker the chance to shine. With a contract running through until the summer of 2020, the Londoner will hope to get a shot at the Premiership next season with Dunfermline.
Firstly, though, Myles will need to force his way into the starting eleven - with the first competitive match of the season on the horizon. Johnston now has plenty options to choose from. Suddenly, all seems positive around East End Park once again.