Martin eyes Euro opponentsThursday, 7th Jul 2011
" It's just a pity that we weren't playing in a tournament against Inter Milan!
Martin Hardie admits to having a few pre seasons under his belt but he rates this one at Dunfermline as one of the hardest:-
"It is a throw back of the old school days of running to get you fit. It will probably stand us in good stead throughout the season. Once we get into the season we will see the benefit of all the training with the ball. Something that I have always enjoyed here is the training; it is all ball related."
The SPL new boys can't wait for the new season to kick off but before that Martin says everyone is looking forward to the training camp in Austria next week:-
"I have never been there before and while there we will be playing two quality teams (FK Mlad? Boleslav and Rapid Bucharest). It is a learning curve for us because I hear one of the teams, possibly two of them, are in the Europa League and that speaks for itself."
The Pars midfielder is optimistic that his team can enter the SPL in the same form that they finished their First Division campaign:-
"We came up as champions and I have been up and down a few times in my career so when you get into the latter part of your career, you look forward to it more than ever."
Injuries might have left Martin feeling that his SPL days were over but he claims that even in the twilight years you always believe that you can get back there:-
"At St Johnstone it was stop-start with a few injuries. Coming back from my cruciate rehab then getting released has been a blessing in disguise. I have come here, been relatively injury free and happy to be playing and training everyday. When you are getting older you look after yourself more in terms of how you are going about your daily work"
Martin considers himself fortunate that Jim McIntyre and Gerry McCabe granted him the facility to train with Dunfermline. As former opponents Jim McIntyre and Martin Hardie had many elbow digs at each other, but the Pars boss had to be delighted with the way Martin elbowed a route into his plans after arriving on his training pitch.
"I had to get match fitness into my limbs and they obviously gave me that. Once I got into the team then it was good to be back playing again and I could see myself getting fitter. By the end of the season I was as fit as I'd been in a year and a half."
While with Partick Thistle, Kilmarnock and St Johnstone, Martin amassed 63 SPL appearances and he can look back on his success at St Johnstone and draw comparisons with the Fifers prospects:-
"Myself and Kevin (Rutkiewicz) were in that team and we went on to give a good account of ourselves against the bottom six teams. We didn't feel out of place and especially the way we attack is quite similar to that St Johnstone team."
Gary Mason, Paul Gallacher, Chris Smith, Andy Kirk, David Graham, Andy Barrowman and Austin McCann join Kevin Rutkiewicz and Martin with SPL experience. Nick Phinn has three SPL appearances to his credit in 2005-06 and he will want to bump that stat up. The whole team is looking forward to the games in the top flight, Martin continued:-
"It is going to be an experience for the older ones to go and enjoy it but it is also going to be a learning curve for those who have not, With that balance between young and old in the team, we are all going to have to work extremely hard.
"It is good to play friendlies but when the season starts it is going to be a whole lot different. It will be a case of keeping the ball as much as you can. When you start to give it away in the SPL it is harder to get it back; you are playing against a better quality of player and they can hurt you far quicker."
With the first SPL game at home against St Mirren now live on Sky TV, the Monday night game gives Dunfermline an early platform to show what they can do. Martin expanded on how he felt when the fixtures were released:-
"You look for the games that highlight the type of games in the SPL. When you see the trip to Celtic Park on the second day of the season, well allegedly, then it is one you are looking forward to, albeit we have the first game of the season to deal with first. It's just a pity that we weren't playing in a tournament against Inter Milan!
"The trip to Celtic Park will come at some stage of the season, hopefully it might be a blessing in disguise because I remember going there with St Johnstone, scoring first but getting beat 5-2. Last year we were dominating games but this season coming it is going to be the opposite way."
Martin wouldn't want that to be taken the wrong way and he feels that there are five or six teams in the SPL that he considers points can be taken from. While that is hopefully the case, the 35 year old knows for certain that there will be formidable teams to pose severe tests. With some luck hopefully FK Mlad? Boleslav and Rapid Bucharest will have prepared 'Mad Mental' and his crew for what is ahead.