Connect 4Date: Friday, 27th May 2022
It was a dismal campaign for Dunfermline Athletic, ending ultimately in relegation from the SPFL Cinch Championship.
There is a connection between Stevie Crawford, Peter Grant; John Hughes and James McPake, which all ties in to the Pars and the situation they found themselves in.
Let`s start at the beginning: a year or so ago, Stevie Crawford resigned as Manager of DAFC following defeat to local rivals Raith Rovers in the SPFL Ladbrokes Premiership Play-Off Quarter-Finals.
A 2-0 defeat on aggregate left Crawford reflective and he made the decision to depart East End Park despite a relatively successful season.
Swiftly moved the Board of Directors, as they brought in Peter Grant. The Alloa Athletic boss had just oversaw the Wasps` relegation to SPFL League One and had left his position at the Clackmannanshire Club.
However, the Pars were keen to hire the highly-regarded Coach despite the poor season of his Alloa Athletic side. Once appointed Manager in West Fife, he built his squad and showed a style of play which, in the opening matches of the Premier Sports Cup Group Stages, looked exciting, new and fresh.
Unfortunately, this wasn`t to last and a run of defeats began and the downward spiral quickly spun into motion.
Fans called for Grant`s head and after a prolonged period of backing the man in the hot-seat, following a 4-2 away defeat to Arbroath (in which Athletic threw away a 2-0 lead), PG`s fate was sealed and he was relieved of his duties.
Winless in the SPFL Cinch Championship and rooted to the bottom of the table, things looked bleak for those in Black & White.
John Hughes was appointed next and an air of optimism quickly arose following victories over Inverness Caledonian Thistle just 24 hours after `Yogi` had been announced, and his first official game in charge 7 days later at home to Ayr United. The 3-0 win, and Lewis McCann`s first 2 senior goals, set the standard that was required between then and May for survival in Scotland`s second-tier as a very minimum.
But results and performances became inconsistent: while the hopes of finishing in mid-table were there for a large part of the term, as the campaign came to a close, it became clear it was either safety in 8th, the relegation play-offs and 9th or automatic relegation finishing 10th.
Ultimately, the Pars fell short of 8th but finished 9th and gave themselves a real chance of remaining in the Championship via the play-offs. 4th placed Queen`s Park were the Semi-Final opponents but in the end, Dunfermline Athletic succumbed to a 1-0 loss on aggregate, following a late Simon Murray goal in the 2nd Leg, thus meaning the first league match within the City of Dunfermline will be one from League One.
The next quandary was whether DAFC were going to appoint their 4th Manager within the space of 12 months, or if the Board were willing to stick with John Hughes. The decision was taken out of their hands, as the experienced 57-year-old took the decision to resign.
This led new Chairman – and current CEO – David Cook to lead his first real big dilemma in the Dunfermline Boardroom, by hiring the right guy or girl to lead the East End Park side forward. Following a thorough process, it was deemed that ex-Dundee manager James McPake was the best candidate available and was appointed to lead Athletic`s 2022-2023 League One campaign.
It will be a term coupled with more ups and downs, more drama; more heartache and excitement. It is why we follow the Pars, for the highs and the lows, the tears of joy and the tears of hurt. What emotions we feel in the coming months are yet to be known, but here is to a much more successful campaign, especially against Falkirk and Kelty Hearts!!!!