'I rooted for The Red Lichties' - Raith Rovers boss Ian Murray reveals he cheered on this Saturday's opponents Arbroath as they went for last season's Scottish Championship crown
Rated as relegation favourites before the 2021-2022 campaign had started, Campbell’s part-time Red Lichties ended up finishing just two points behind champions Kilmarnock in second before losing a play-off semi-final to Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
Murray, whose side go into Saturday’s encounter with now second-bottom Arbroath in seventh spot with 22 points from 17 games and won 4-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw at home to Greenock Morton in the SPFL Trust Trophy fourth round last Saturday, told the Fife Free Press: “There’s no doubt that Dick Campbell is one of the big characters in Scottish football.
"He has had a wonderful career and has been in football now a long, long time.
"You don’t survive in football unless you are good at your job and you can build relationships with people and build relationships with your players.
"Obviously Arbroath did fantastic last season.
"I think all of us outwith the Championship were willing them on and hoping that they managed to pull off a minor miracle and get into the Premiership.
"They were very, very close and so well organised. This season’s not quite been the same for them because sometimes your own success can kill you.
"Dick’s done such a wonderful job there for the four or five years he’s been in.
"He deserves some slack that’s for sure because he’s still got a really good side that’s just not quite got there this season but it can change quickly.
"They recently drew 1-1 with Morton – who have been getting rave reviews – in the league.”
When asked to explain why Arbroath have failed to come close to matching their fine exploits last season in this campaign, Murray said: “Sometimes a hangover can kick into a club, never mind players.
"When you’ve done really well I think improving it the second year is really difficult.
"I don’t think they have been battered too often in the league this season, they’re very competitive.
"I just think the disappointment of last season (not going up) after doing so well maybe dented the confidence of the players a little bit.
"And I’ve got no doubt other teams are now raising their game against that. You have to, to try and beat them.”
Raith go into the game against The Red Lichties buoyed by their fine display from the penalty spot against Morton, with Jamie Gullan, Kyle Connell, Aidan Connolly and Ross Millen all netting from 12 yards for Rovers, whose keeper Andy McNeil saved from both Alex King and Liam Grimshaw.
"The quality of our players' penalties on Saturday was really high,” Murray said. “The penalties were excellent which was really pleasing because it showed we were able to handle the pressure.
"We don't practice penalties in a sort of structured way. Sometimes the boys will have a wee penalty competition at the end of training.
"I think obviously practising helps. It's very hard to replicate any game moment as it's completely different.
"But in terms of your technique, your striking of the ball, I think that can be helped. I was never involved in a penalty shootout as a player.
"I've been involved in a few as manager. I won a couple and lost a couple at Airdrie and similar at Raith, we've won two and lost one.”
Murray said he had sympathy for the Morton players who missed, stressing Harry Kane’s skied penalty for England against France showed just how difficult it can be.
Regular Raith keeper Jamie MacDonald is bidding to shake off a shoulder knock to be fit to face Arbroath. Liam Dick is doubtful with a hamstring issue.