Captain's MissionSunday, 24th Jul 2011
"I came to Dunfermline because I felt they were a club set up to return to the Premier League and hopefully stay there.
Austin's looking forward to life in the SPL
As captain, Austin McCann will have the pleasure of leading Dunfermline back out on to the SPL stage on Monday night. He told the website that it seems to have been a long time coming since the end of last season:-
"I'm looking forward to it as are the rest of the boys. The celebrations for winning promotion were good at the time and we were on a high but now we know that its going to be a tough season ahead. Every game is going to be hard but although we will respect every opponent, we are not going to fear anybody. We will be up for every game even though there is not an easy game in the league and we know it's going to be a challenge."
It's a challenge that Austin and his team mates will be up for. Along with 13 others in the Dunfermline squad, he has SPL experience that hopefully Dunfermline can now draw dividends from. In addition to Austin who played 39 matches for Hearts in the SPL, Paul Gallacher, Chris Smith, Jason Thomson, Kevin Rutkiewicz, John Potter, Andy Dowie, David Graham, Gary Mason, Martin Hardie, Nick Phinn, Andy Kirk, Andy Barrowman and Pat Clarke have all varying quantities of SPL appearances.
It was his ambition to play again in the SPL that made him join Dunfermline from Football League Two club, Notts County back in 2008.
"I came to Dunfermline because I felt they were a club set up to return to the Premier League and hopefully stay there. We now have the chance to play there, consolidate and become an established Premier League team again."
Although every one of the eleven players who started that final First Division match back on 7th May are still at East End Park the new season sees the arrival of six new players. The Club Captain reckons the new faces have slotted very well into the squad:-
"There was a good team spirit here last year; it is a good place to come in and train everyday. The new boys have fitted in because the dressing room is so good. Going to Austria for the week helped as well. When you are together all the time, sharing rooms - I shared with Paddy Boyle - the boys all get integrated."
Jim McIntyre with his six new arrivals
Oz went to Austria for pre season in his first year at Dunfermline and he feels that helped him immensely to gel with his team mates. He also recalls the tough games in 2008 as well as the two this year:-
"That's the way the Manager likes it. When you see results of ten and 12-0 in pre season games, there's not much you can take out of that. There are only tough games over there and hopefully that has set us up for the SPL season because every game there will be tough."
Austin McCann at Obertraun 2008
Tuesday night's friendly against Huddersfield Town, was the last in the preparations for the SPL and Austin believes that was just the kind of opponents they were needing:-
"They were a good side and only just missed out on promotion to the Championship last season so it just shows you how good a side they were. They were a good test for us and hopefully that will help prepare us for Monday."
Austin McCann: Saturday 23rd July and Tuesday 19th July
One thing the 31 year-old Pars captain reckons will not be an excuse is the East End Park surface that has been specially prepared for them:-
"The boys are very happy with the pitch. When we first looked over the pitch, it was so good that we thought that we'd stolen somebody else's. It is the best condition that I have seen it in the years that I have been here, it is immaculate. In a way I felt sorry for the groundstaff that we had to play on it on Tuesday night in that downpour. Down on my side under the stand, conditions got so bad that the referee was worried about it and spoke to both managers. Fortunately we got through without an injury and it was good to get another 90 minutes."
The season ahead will be a success if Dunfermline's survival in the top league is achieved. Obviously higher than eleventh would be good but Austin insists that the Manager will be pushing the players in every game.
"If at the end of the season we have stayed in the league, we will consider that a successful season. The Club has been out of the Premier League for too long now and we must get back to being an established Premier League team as they were in my time in the Premier League before at Hearts. Dunfermline were always up there challenging so that's where they've been before and we want to get there again.
"We have to start slow, consolidate next year - that will be the standard to achieve. You just don't want to get relegated so we will go out and give our all every game. Hopefully it will be a successful season."