BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Falkirk star John Baird is hoping for yet another picture-perfect moment at Stark’s Park – after revealing the Fifers have taken his photograph off the wall.
The 30-year-old was a firm fans’ favourite with the Rovers, notching 34 goals in two separate spells with the club.
He played a pivotal role in their most famous triumph of recent times, bagging the extra-time winner against Rangers in the Ramsdens Cup final in 2014 at Easter Road.
Baird’s part in that 1-0 victory was previously immortalised by a framed photo in the corridors of the stadium, only for it to be notable by its absence of his last visit to Kirkcaldy in November.
“I have a habit of scoring against Raith so I think my statue has been taken away,” he joked. “In seriousness, they have taken my photos off wall. Last time I was there I said ‘what have you done with my picture?’ We had a bit of a laugh about that. Apparently they change them around every year – so that’s me finished.
“No, I get on really well with the Directors and a few of the players there. The management team are different, but I’ll always have great memories of my time there. That team had a special bond.
“The Raith fans will boo me during the game – I’d expect nothing less, I’m not playing for their team – but they’ve given me a standing ovation when I’ve gone off every time, so that’s a nice touch. I’ll always have a soft spot for Raith.
“I’m delighted to see them doing well. They are a big club and there are a lot of good people there, but Falkirk are my priority. The bottom line is they could be our playoff rivals, and we need three points on Saturday.”
Baird is in no mood to play down the importance of this afternoon’s trip to Fife, insisting it falls firmly into the “must-win” category.
Hibs shook off their recent malaise in the league to defeat Rangers 3-2 in midweek, cutting Falkirk’s lead in second place to three points – and the capital club still boast a game in hand against Dumbarton.
However, a superior goal difference of seven ensure the runners-up spot is still effectively in the Bairns’ hands.
He continued: “I think it is plainly obvious we need to get the three points. Hibs got a great result during the week – and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t watching it. I was!
“That result didn’t go in our favour, but what is in our favour is the fact it would take a massive swing in goal difference for Hibs to catch us – as long as we win our game. If you offered anyone at Falkirk that at the start of the season, we would have taken it.”
He added: “We are going to a tough venue against a good side, and we will give them the respect they deserve. They have been excellent site the turn of the year and the manager [Ray McKinnon] has brought in some good players. It will be a difficult one.
“Raith are the form team at the moment, but we have beaten them twice already and they drew with us in the other match. Psychologically that might give us a wee edge.”