Dunfermline Athletic

Hay and Leish answer questions at East End Park.

Author: Jason Barber Date: Wednesday, 25th Aug 2004

A very open and honest discussion was had on a number of matters, including the club`s finances, tactics, team selection as well as the upcoming European match on Thursday night!

David Hay answering all questions put forward by the fans.

Jim Leishman opened the proceedings by thanking those who turned up for the event at such short notice. He added that similar events were planned for the future, hopefully with more opportunity to advertise it to fans in advance.

A future hall of fame is to be introduced at East End Park shortly, highlighting the heroes and perhaps, unsung heroes of yesteryear. Jim mentioned the sad passing of Tommy McDonald who had played in every game up to the 1961 Scottish Cup Final before missing out due to appendicitis. People like Tommy should be remembered at the club during their lives it is now hoped.

Jim introduced Davie Hay and questions were invited from the floor to either of them.

Needless to say, the poor start to the SPL season was a subject many wished to discuss with the new Head Coach. It was Davie`s belief, along with nearly all the fans, that the Dundee United and Aberdeen games should have been won.

He added that the lack of goals was a concern, but he believed that a 20 goal a season striker such as Stevie Crawford cannot simply be replaced overnight. Noel Hunt was improving all the time and Hay believes that he can continue to improve with each passing game.

Hay also stated that he was pleased with the performances from his defence on Saturday, who agreed that the Aberdeen goal had been offside.

The left hand side of the team was an area that Hay would ideally like to bring in more options to the club. Having lost Grondin and Kilgannon over the summer, there was obviously a dearth of natural left sided players on the books. Gary Dempsey was being asked to play there just now, which is obviously not his strongest position.

The next topic raised was that of Richie Byrne`s transfer request. Both Hay and Leishman confirmed that Byrne was now on the transfer list at the player`s request, perhaps due to advice he was receiving from his agent.

Byrne, along with Labonte, Dempsey, Hunt and Mehmet was offered an extension to his contract (which has two years to run) and this was turned down. Byrne believes that he can get an improved deal elsewhere, so DAFC have allowed him to seek that deal by agreeing to his transfer request.

Davie Hay did confirm that the door is not shut for the player however, and he is still available for team selection in the meantime.

The subject of Thursday nights European tie inevitably cropped up. Davie Hay commented that after listening to Jim Leishman`s stories about Dunfermline`s previous exploits in Europe for five years, it was his decision to ask Leish to lead the team out on Thursday night. Jim added how proud he was to have been asked and how much he is looking forward to the game as a whole.

Davie Hay spoke at length about the worrying injury problems going into the game, especially with such a small squad to begin with. Although he had inherited an "excellent" playing squad from the two Jimmies, it was short of numbers and the lack of finances restricted his wish to bring new players in.

Hay added that he hoped the under 21 and under 19 players would now begin to make a real push for a first team place, and it was far too long since a player made the grade through the DAFC youth system.

Jim Leishman added his frustrations that so many local players had previously slipped through the net as far as the scouting system had gone. A radical overhaul of the youth set up was about to take place and such instances should not be allowed to happen in the future. F*lkirk, Hibs and Livingston all benefitted from Dunfermline`s lack of interest in local playing talent in recent times.

The constant financial troubles were also discussed. Davie Hay did say his hands were tied in terms of making new signings, though that would not prevent any loan deals possibly taking place. He accepted he had to work with the squad he had, which was thankfully left in very good shape by the previous regime. Jim Leishman is now far more involved in terms of players contract/wage discussions than before.

Davie had a list of players he had in mind for bringing to the club, as does any manager, but future finances would obviously dictate what, if anything, could be done about such targets.

One fan went on to ask about the crowds at East End Park. Raising the subject of how big they were during the late Leishman era, he asked if Davie Hay had any expectations to do similar. Hay thought that Leishman`s target of a 600% increase was unlikely to say the least, though he thought a continual increase was more than achievable!

Jim Leishman stated that his ultimate goal would be to see 10% of the West Fife population coming along to support Dunfermline at their home games (which would bring in crowds of over 10,000 once again)

It was confirmed that the club have now sold more season tickets already, then they did for the whole of last season (which included a lot of purchases of half season tickets at Christmas time)

Considering that season tickets no longer have home cup ties, nor the UEFA cup match(es) for this season, Leish added how pleased he was that the fans had shown their faith in such improved numbers.

Pressed on the matters of financial problems, Leish added that he truly believed that the club would be rid of its financial problems within two years. Until then, harsh savings have been, and will continue to be, made.

Davie then confirmed how genuinely helpful the playing squad had been recently. After a meeting with the playing squad to discuss continual cutbacks, he left the door open for any player to come to him with any issues or problems they may have had, not one did. Hay was delighted at the team spirit contained at the club and how appreciative he was of their communal efforts behind the scenes.

Whilst other clubs continued to apparently spend beyond their means, Leish insisted those days are now over at Dunfermline Athletic. The players were certainly not to blame at all for the previously high wages and bonuses on offer, but they now had to face the stark reality that those days are now over. He echoed Davie Hay`s comments about how the players could have quite easily caused unrest, but have pulled together as a unit.

The evening was wrapped up just before 10pm and it was confirmed that another both Davie and Jim would be happy to attend other similar events in the future.

A most worthwhile exercise by the club in the end and one that can only help with regards to bringing topics out in the open. Both Davie Hay and Jim Leishman spoke honestly on every single subject that was raised and no questions were shirked off.

Watch this space for the next event and we will advertise it as soon as we hear!

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