Jamie MacDonald up for the fight for the Raith Rovers’ No.1 jersey

Raith Rovers’ new goalkeeper says he is looking forward to the four-way battle for the No.1 jersey as he settles in to the club.
Jamie MacDonald in pre-season training with Raith Rovers. (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)Jamie MacDonald in pre-season training with Raith Rovers. (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)
Jamie MacDonald in pre-season training with Raith Rovers. (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)

Jamie MacDonald arrives at the club with a wealth of experience, but the Scottish Cup winner says he’s taking nothing for granted as he tussles for a first team place with Robbie Thomson, David McGurn and Kyle Bow.

“I think it’s important at any football club to have competition for places,” he says, “that’s what drives you on.

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“I’d much rather be in that position where you are having to fight for your place every week, having people pushing you and vice versa.

MacDonald upon signing for the club. (Pic: Tony Fimister)MacDonald upon signing for the club. (Pic: Tony Fimister)
MacDonald upon signing for the club. (Pic: Tony Fimister)

“It helps you to get to be the best you can be. If you’re the only goalie there and know you’re going to be playing every week you maybe don’t hit the same standards that you could with somebody pushing you.

“You know if you don’t play well you’re not going to lose your place.

“I think that’s important, not just for the goalkeeping position, but right through the squad.

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“If there’s competition for places and everybody wants to play and do well, that’s the way for teams to drive forward and improve.”

MacDonald revealed that he had met one of his goalkeeping team mates before, but says: “I didn’t recognise him on this occasion because the last time I saw him he was only nine or 10!

“When I was introduced to Kyle Bow he told me he’s met me before. He said his dad runs the Dunfermline Hearts Supporters Club and I had been at a couple of their events in the past when I was at Hearts.

“This was six or seven years ago so in my defence I think I can be forgiven for not quite pinpointing him!”

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The 34-year-old signed for Rovers after turning down a new contract with his former club Kilmarnock.

He admits it was a risk to try and find a new club, especially during lockdown.

“It’s a strange time for everybody,” he says.

“I think for a lot of football players who were out of contract it was very difficult because it took longer to get tied up.

“Part of it was my own problem as well. I had the opportunity to re-sign with Kilmarnock and I chose not because I was trying to find something closer to my home base, I live in Edinburgh.

“It was a gamble but it’s worked out well.

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“I’m now just 30 minutes up the road and it’s much better for my family life.”

MacDonald, who won the Scottish Cup with Hearts in 2012 and was called up to the Scotland squad just two years ago, says he has no concerns about dropping down a division from the Premiership.

“I’ve played in the Championship numerous times over the years, even last season going on loan to Alloa for the first half of the season,” he says.

“It was great. It’s a competitive league where anybody can beat anybody on their day. I don’t think people realise how good the standard is in the Championship.

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“Over the past few years there’s been a bit more money being pumped into the Premiership and teams adding to their squads, so what you are finding is a lot of experienced players from that league dropping out top the Championship, so it’s a very high standard.

“I don’t think there’s much difference between the teams at the top end of the Championship and the bottom end of the Premiership.

“It’s something I’m looking forward to.”

When the offer came to come to Kirkcaldy, MacDonald says it was a move that “ticked all the boxes” for him, both professionally and personally.

“First and foremost I know the manager really well. I’ve worked with him a few times in my career.

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“He was my first professional coach in the youths at Hearts. Then he was assistant coach and first team coach during my early days in the first team, then he came back as manager.

“He’s somebody I know very well so coming to Raith ticked all the boxes for me.

“It’s a good club and I’ve played here a few times in the past. It’s a good stadium and the club has a good fanbase as well. It has good potential.”

With gruelling pre-season training now well underway, MacDonald says that players are in the unusual position of actually enjoying it for once.

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“Usually if you ask a player how pre-season is going they’ll mump and moan about it but I think everybody is just glad to get back to some form of normality.

“It’s been a long time coming. Obviously you try to keep yourself fit during the lockdown period, five or six months doing things yourself and keeping on top of it, but it wasn’t really until I got back last week that I realised how much I missed that type of training.

“You miss the day-to-day interaction with people. I’m thoroughly enjoying the training so far.

“There’s four or five of us new boys so I think that helps. Everybody tries to integrate early doors.

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“The boys have been more than welcoming. It’s a good bunch with a good team spirit and I think that is why they had success last season.”

He added: “I’m just looking forward to the season starting and getting on with the game side of things.”