East Fife boss Crawford relishing the challenge and excited about next game

Stevie Crawford declared he was enjoying every minute so far of his return to Bayview and he was “excited” by the prospect of this weekend’s trek to Peterhead.

By Ralph Mellon
Thursday, 9th December 2021, 1:48 pm
Updated Thursday, 9th December 2021, 1:55 pm
Stevie Crawford relays instructions in the opening game of his return as Bayview manager against Alloa (picture by Kenny Mackay)
Stevie Crawford relays instructions in the opening game of his return as Bayview manager against Alloa (picture by Kenny Mackay)

The 47-year-old took in his first game back as boss of East Fife on Saturday, a dozen years after he was player-manager at Methil.

The new gaffer was pleased with the players’ response after going behind against Alloa Athletic to gain a point in a 1-1 draw.

And he indicated they would have to be “bang at it” this weekend when they took on Jim McInally’s troops at Balmoor.

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Crawford said he was glad to accept the challenge of advancing East Fife and tactically willing to try anything he feels is right for the club.

He was very complimentary about the help he’d received from the Bayview backroom staff and grateful for the chance to get back into the game offered to him by another ex-East Fife boss, Gary Naysmith, at Edinburgh City, following Crawford’s resignation as manager of Dunfermline earlier this year.

He also paid tribute to his immediate predecessor and former East End Park team-mate Darren Young as he declared the East Fife job to be a very appetising proposition.

“I decided in the summer that coming away from the game wasn’t for me – not just reflecting on my spell in management at Dunfermline, but other things,” he said.

“Some jobs had come up but East Fife attracted me the most.”

While staying in League One will be a big task for the Fifers, Crawford said he’d never have put his name forward if he felt he wasn’t capable of progressing the club.

It was an unfortunate fact that, often when a new manager came in, a team hadn’t been doing as well as they had hoped, he added.

“I have a good relationship with Darren Young – he had a tremendous spell and it’s never nice to see someone lose their job,” said Crawford. “I am sure he will get back in."

Crawford added he’d been fortunate to work with very good people in various environments from his earliest days in management.

“This is a challenge I am not frightened of,” he said.

“I know it’s going to be extremely difficult but I feel I can come in and have an impact and take the club forwards.”

An immediate challenge is attaining ninth place, he says, and that is the priority now for his coaching staff and players.

“I think East Fife have a good squad of players,” he said. “They have had difficult times through injuries this season but I am not coming in to make excuses for that. It's about what's going from now forwards, rather than looking back.”

The manager made some alterations to the format on Saturday after the misbegotten Scottish Cup experience at Banks o’ Dee.

“It wasn’t a case of whoever I didn’t play was getting punished,” he said. “It was as I saw fit for moving the club forwards. I am going to need everybody all pulling in the same direction.”

Crawford pledged to get to know his players and backroom staff as quickly as possible “to make sure we're giving it everything we can to get out of this position we find ourselves in”.

The club announced this week that ex-Bayview player Greig McDonald had been appointed as assistant manager, with Paul Thomson as first team coach.

“I was disappointed to lose the goal (against Alloa) but really happy with the response,” he said, reflecting on last Saturday.

“Confidence is low when you are at the bottom of the league. People forget you are a human being and the players are unhappy with where they find themselves at the moment.

“They rallied round, managed to turn the game and got at them. The substitutes who came on all played their part and those who had come off all worked their socks off for the team.

“In the end, we could probably have nicked it, which was pleasing. I know it’s only a point, but there is stuff to build on.”

This Saturday’s opponents, Peterhead, were two goals up at Broadwood against Clyde last weekend before a double from David Goodwillie squared it at 2-2.

Crawford said he was looking forward to the trip and the squad had to be “bang at it”, adding: “You’ve always got to respect who you’re up against and Peterhead are always a tough fixture, as they all are.

"The next game is the important one and you can’t get further ahead of yourself than that.”