BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
DAVID McCracken expects tomorrow’s encounter with Kilmarnock to fraught with emotion but he believes it is the tears that have been shed along the way that have brought Falkirk to the brink of promotion.
The Bairns will travel to Rugby Park aiming to protect the 1-0 advantage they earned with Thursday night’s dramatic first-leg victory.
Will Vaulks’ injury-time winner was the 10th time Peter Houston’s redoubtable outfit have scored beyond the 90 minutes this season and it spoke of a never-say-die spirit that McCracken attempted to explain yesterday as he surveyed his side’s hopes of finishing an incredible journey in Ayrshire.
Falkirk have been working all season with mindfulness coach Connie McLaughlin, of Your Inner Buzz, and captain McCracken reckons their willingness to regularly lay bare their emotions in front of each other has been key to bringing the whole squad much closer together away from games.
That in turn has ramped up the burgeoning belief they have in each other on the pitch, especially when they dig deep going into the closing moments of matches.
He said: “Everybody has that mutual respect for each other. Some of the personal stuff that a group of us have done throughout the season with Connie McLaughlin has definitely helped.
“That’s brought togetherness with a different side to it. Boys appreciate other players’ situations. It’s not just a case of coming in, being a footballer and, if you’re moaning during training, you’re a dick.
“It’s seeing that other side to a person, knowing that somebody might be moaning in training or not having the best game, but realising that there might be stuff going on outwith football.
“It might be a family issue, it might be something financially, anything at all. There are all these pressure outwith football that don’t get spoken about too much.
“Sometimes there is too much bravado to talk about that side of it. Instead, you need to be strong, you need to be a big personality, you need to be able to handle that pressure.
“But sometimes people can’t do that and you need somebody there to recognise that, somebody who can, every now and again, pull somebody aside and say ‘are you alright?’. That’s definitely been a big thing this year.”
McCracken, who won promotion from League Two in England with Wycombe Wanderers in 2009, insists the willingness of Falkirk to accept the psychological work could prove key to returning the club to the top-flight tomorrow.
The 34-year-old added: “It’s had a massive bearing on some of the boys in the group who have been to the sessions. It has definitely showed in performances.
“It is unusual in a club because some people might make fun of it. Showing your emotions, that can get looked down on.
“That didn’t happen here. There have been some quite deep sessions here, which have become quite emotional – and that’s been accepted.
“It definitely helps us, for example, in the last minute of a game. And other times.”