Comrie’s Celtic Park revisitedFriday, 16th Aug 2019
“We know realistically how hard it is going to be but with our energy and enthusiasm you never know!”
On Saturday there is likely to be a number of Dunfermline players who will be playing at Celtic Park for the first time but Pars right back Aaron Comrie knows just what it feels like since he made his St Johnstone debut there just under two years ago. He recalled:-
“My first start was away to Celtic and we got a positive result. I was 20 at the time and I remember that I had known earlier in the week. The build up before the game was probably the worst bit but once on the park I was fine.”
The Perth club took the lead through an 39th minute Kenny MacLean goal but the home side equalised eleven minutes from time. Aaron played the full 90 minutes but had a knock out of a start:-
“I remember in the first few minutes Murray Davidson went up for a header and I ended up knocking him out. I had a big cut in my head, blood dripping and I think I had a bit of concussion as well.”
His Saints team mate required fully six minutes of treatment before Liam Craig became an eighth minute sub.
“I never started well but did alright in the game. Murray was out, he had to get stretchered off and taken to hospital. He also did something to his tooth, so that wasn’t ideal.”
Just as can be expected on Saturday Aaron and his team mates were up against big names in the Celtic team. His particular charge that day was Scott Sinclair but others to contend with were Leigh Griffiths, Tom Rogic and James Forrest. Aaron continued:-
“That was the first time I had played at that level and to play against a top player like him was difficult but something that I learned from.
“After a while you settle into the game and the crowd is just noise at that point. You are just focused on trying to do well.
“That drive home was filled with pride with family phoning. It was just a brilliant day and I am glad to have experienced it.”
Helping him through that ‘deep end’ debut at Celtic Park was his current team mate Paul Paton.
“He will be taking us there as captain, what a great leader to have. He has been about and knows the game in and out. I’m sure that he will be helping boys through who have maybe not played in that sort of atmosphere.”
Aaron has been ever present in Stevie Crawford’s team this season and he even scored a goal in the Betfred Cup game against Albion Rovers. Better known for defending goals Aaron is not renowned for scoring them and he admits that he has maybe reached his quota for the season.
“It has been a breath of fresh air for me coming in and playing every week so far. The team is looking pretty good, so I’m loving it
“I am a local lad, I stay in Glenrothes so I know how big the club is and that is what attracted me. Obviously coming in and trying to play every week was a big thing for me.
“I am 22 now and I hadn’t played a lot of games. It was nice for me knowing that I had a chance of playing every week.”
That was not the case at St Johnstone:-
“After I made my first start I had a run of games after that but unfortunately tore my hamstring probably at a bad time. I was doing well but I struggled to get a run of games after that, that’s football I suppose.”
When it became clear last season he wasn’t being played he tried in January to get out on loan. Unfortunately for Aaron it didn’t happen and so last season didn’t exactly go to plan. He knew that it was time to move on and considers himself luckily that Dunfermline were interested.
While Aaron was at Woodside Boys Club in Glenrothes he caught the eye of Celtic and he spent eight years there.
“I left when I was seventeen and went to St Johnstone for four years. I did one year full time before I got released. Again that probably came at a good time as well. At the time you don’t know it but going to St Johnstone was a positive move in my career.”
At Celtic he left behind team mates the likes of Kieran Tierney, Steven Boyd who is now at Hamilton and Joe Thomson. Aaron felt that it took a while for him to get into a club.
“My dad phoned Alistair Stevenson at St Johnstone because when you leave a club you feel a wee bit sorry for yourself but then reality kicks in and you have to find somewhere else. Luckily my dad picked up the phone for me and managed to be enough of a pest to get me a trial at St Johnstone. One of the boys I had been at Celtic with passed on his number. We never had agents at that time so credit to my dad.”
So can Aaron take inspiration from his drawn Premier League debut at Celtic Park and help Dunfermline cause what would be a major upset?
“We know that it is going to be tough. They have won the last nine trophies. There are boys in the squad who have experience of playing at Celtic Park or Ibrox. We need to stick together and hope things go our way at times. We will go there with a positive mindset and the adrenalin will get boys through it.
“It is a young squad but the boys will be looking forward to the challenge. We know realistically how hard it is going to be but with our energy and enthusiasm you never know!”