Dundee manager James McPake is eager to repay the faith put in him by the club – and getting back to the Scottish Premiership would be a perfect tonic.
The Dens Park club host fans this evening for the first time in over a year during leg one of the Premiership play-off final with Kilmarnock. The winner of this two-legged affair plays top-flight football next season, but it’s been a long round to this point for McPake.
He signed for the club as a player in 2014, silencing some doubts over his fitness. But a horror knee injury 2016 effectively ended his playing career, going on to become the club’s U18s manager and now first-team boss. Dundee owner Tim Keyes and managing director John Nelms helped him through it and McPake wants to settle a debt.
McPake said: “This football club means a lot to me because of the way they have treated me. They signed me when I was deemed a cripple basically. I got 55 games before getting the injury but they helped me on the road to my coaching career.
“I’ve got to pass on massive thanks to John and Tim for the treatment they got me. I’ve got to pass on massive thanks to John and Tim for the treatment they got me. Their help has got me to the point where I can walk without a limp, when that looked impossible at one stage.
“I can even join in training a little bit now – although the boys just get annoyed at me for giving the ball away. That used to happen when I was fit anyway. John and Tim trusted me again to go take this job on when it came up so it would mean everything to me to get this club back to the Premiership. That’s not a cliche.
“I’ve been here a while now and I know how much work goes on from the staff and the people in the background. The fans have played their part too raising so much money during the tough times we’ve been through during the pandemic. They’ve backed us. Look, the football has not been great at times under me and Dave and there has been some bad runs.
“But when it’s really mattered we’ve got them going and now we need one final push. It’s not about me, it’s about the fans and John and Tim and the group of players, who have been magnificent.
“I’d just love to wake up on Tuesday morning as the manager of Dundee, a Premiership club. I might even have a look at social media for the first time to see their reaction if we get through. If we don’t I certainly won’t – I’ll hide away somewhere.”
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