ANDY KIRK can’t forget the adulation bestowed upon him during five years with Hearts. Today, that must pale into insignificance if he is to help Dunfermline’s fight against relegation.
Should the Fife club ultimately overhaul Hibs and stay in the Scottish Premier League, Kirk believes it will be a feat to match their promotion 12 months ago. “It was a good achievement helping Dunfermline get out of the First Division,” explained the Northern Irishman.
“Jim McIntyre signed me and for three seasons we worked hard and got the right players in to win that league and get promotion to the SPL. I was proud of that achievement, but staying in this league would be just as good given the position we’re in at the minute.
“I’ve a lot of admiration for the Hearts supporters; it will always be a favourite club of mine. The Hearts fans appreciated me when I was there and I think they know I appreciated them.
“It’s bitter-sweet, but we’re all professionals. My job is playing for Dunfermline now and we need a win. If we get one over Hearts it will be brilliant for us to get us going again.”
Breathing life into Dunfermline’s campaign would test even the most ingenious medic. They sit six points behind Hibs ahead of this weekend’s fixtures and are without a home win all season. Kirk admits that statistic is the cause of much consternation within the dressing room.
“We haven’t won at home all year so we’ve just got to keep striving for that and hope it’s going to change for us,” he continued.
“Once a game starts you’re not aware of that record because you want to win every game you play. But not winning at home all season isn’t something we like being associated with.
“The sooner we put that right, the better. It would be a great result if we could get our first home win against Hearts. It will give us a chance of surviving. For the fans it’s not nice going all season without a win at East End Park and we need to sort it out.
“Every game for us at this minute is a cup final. Every game is a must-win. The number of points we get from now till the end of the season will be the deciding factor in whether we stay up or not. We feel like we have to beat Hearts so it’s no different from any other game we’ll play.
“We need to start putting points on the table to give ourselves a chance. We need to take care of ourselves and then look to see if other results have gone for us. Taking care of our performance and getting the right result is what’s important.
“The gap between us and Hibs is six points just now, but that could change very quickly. If we get a result against Hearts and Hibs drop points, then it’s right back in the mix again. Until it’s mathematically impossible to catch them then you’ve got to have belief. If we don’t then we don’t give ourselves a chance.”
In reality, the odds are heavily stacked against Dunfermline this afternoon. “Hearts are going quite well at the minute and it’s a game nobody will give us a chance in,” continued Kirk.
“Hearts are a very strong side and we’ll need to be at the top of our game to get anything.”
One advantage for the home side could be the fact manager Jim Jefferies is well acquainted with the Hearts players having managed them up until his sacking in August last year. “Jim signed a lot of the players who are there,” said Kirk.
“He’ll look at their side and he’ll know what their strengths and weaknesses are. He’ll try to set us up in a way that we can combat them and exploit their weaknesses.”