BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
KALLUM HIGGINBOTHAM insists tormenting Championship back-lines alongside Farid El Alagui with Falkirk remains the most enjoyable campaign of his career.
However, sentiment will not come into the equation today as the Dunfermline duo prepare to be cast as villains against the Bairns.
Higginbotham, 27, spent two years at the Falkirk Stadium and readily admits the stint effectively built his reputation, with the 2011/12 season a particular highlight as he thrived in a ’No.10’ role behind El Alagui.
Despite only playing half of that term – his form earned a January move to Huddersfield – he scored six goals and provided a constant source of ammunition for the French-Moroccan, who found the net 27 times.
He also helped Falkirk reach the League Cup semi-final, where he turned in an eye-catching display at Hampden despite a 3-1 defeat to Celtic – memories that will come rushing back when he steps on to the field for a raucous derby clash this afternoon.
Higginbotham said: “This is definitely a game I looked for at the start of the season.
“I’ll always have great memories and be very proud of my time with Falkirk and, of course, a lot of that was playing with Farid [El Alagui]. I loved my time there and have plenty to be grateful for.
“But I really found my feet in the second season and was lucky enough to play in an excellent team and put in some good performances. That game at Hampden [against Celtic] will always stand out and basically got me my move to Huddersfield.
“That second season at Falkirk is the most enjoyable time I have had playing football, but my focus now is on making sure Dunfermline get the right result.”
Should, as expected, Higginbotham receive a fiery welcome from the home fans, he can take some solace from sharing the burden with El Alagui.
The 31-year-old marksman was a cult hero with the Bairns after Steven Pressley plucked him from relative anonymity and shaped him into one of the best natural finishers in Sottish football.
Injury woes have derailed his progress but, now back to full fitness and with three goals in his last three games, Higginbotham is loving life alongside his old pal.
He continued: “It’s great to be re-united with Farid. When we both left Falkirk I figured we would probably never cross paths again. But, back together at Dunfermline, I hope we can start to play a few more games together, get that bond back that we had at Falkirk and really click into gear.”
Meanwhile, Falkirk boss Peter Houston has cautioned against worrying solely about the threat posed by the ex-Bairns in the Dunfermline ranks as he floated the notion that the Pars are throwing serious money at their bid to reach the playoffs.
Houston said: “Higginbotham is a good player and El Alagui is a good player as well – but they’ve also got Gavin Reilly on loan from Hearts and Nicky Clark.
“It looks like their budget has gone right up, they must be spending to accumulate to try to make sure they consolidate themselves in this division and maybe even get to the play-offs.
“Geggan in the middle of the park is a good player, with Rhys McCabe who was at Rangers. Cardle’s been through the divisions and knows this really well.
“They’ve got good serious pros and it’s a tough, tough match.”