BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
BRAD McKay admits he will cherish memories of last Saturday for years to come after he marked his 23rd birthday in perfect fashion by winning the league with Dunfermline.
The former Hearts defender, currently on loan from St Johnstone, has confessed he approached the meeting with Brechin City fully expecting the Pars’ title challenge to rumble on to this afternoon’s sold-out trip to face Albion Rovers.
However, with Cowdenbeath pulling off a shock win at Peterhead, Faissal El Bakhtaoui’s stunning hat-trick sparked raucous celebrations at East End Park as the Fifers’ return to the Championship was confirmed.
It meant back-to-back title wins for McKay, who helped Hearts to the Championship trophy last year, and delivered the ideal present to spark his birthday party.
He said: “Once I found out that it could happen last Saturday it was something that was on my mind because it was my birthday as well.
“I’m not going to lie to you, I thought it would be this week that it would happen, if we could beat Albion Rovers, because that was a big result for Cowdenbeath.
“When we were playing during the match, we knew straight away as soon as Cowdenbeath scored.
“But we never knew at the full-time whistle whether it was all over up there or not. Everyone was looking at the fans and then we got the thumbs up and stuff, so we could celebrate.
“It was a great birthday present, one that will probably stick with me for a long time.
“Some people go their full career without a medal to show for it.
“I turned 23 last Saturday and I’ve got two league winner’s medals to show for it, as well as a runners-up one for the League Cup.
“So, it could have been three, but two’s not bad to have on the CV at 23.”
Although he admits there are many differences between League One and the Championship, McKay is all too aware of the similarities in his consecutive successes.
Both Hearts and Dunfermline suffered relegation as a consequence of going into administration but, whilst Hearts bounced back at the first opportunity, it has taken the Pars three seasons to recover from dropping down to Scottish football’s third-tier.
For McKay, who admits his summer move to St Johnstone did not work out the way he hoped, there is pride in his contribution to the resurgence of one of the nation’s fallen powers.
He added: “It was a massive effort last season with Hearts, to win the league with Rangers and Hibs in it, as well as the likes of Falkirk; there’s a lot of big teams in that league.
“The two titles have obviously been different but it’s similar in that both clubs went into administration and got relegated, and ended up somewhere they didn’t deserve to be in terms of the football on the pitch.
“It was down to finances and it’s not fair on the fans.
“But Dunfermline are going in the right direction, the same as Hearts with the fans part owning it. That’s the right way to go.
“You could see last Saturday there was a huge following and that was with them probably not thinking we were going to win the league that day. I think if they had known it was going to happen there could have been 7 or 8,000 there.”