BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
RAITH ROVERS chief executive Eric Drysdale has called for unity ahead of D-Day in the Fifers’ battle against the drop.
Rovers’ boss John Hughes launched an blistering attack on his own players following their dismal 5-0 defeat at the hands of relegation rivals St Mirren last weekend, questioning their desire, attitude and ability during an astonishing interview with the club’s TV channel.
Drysdale knows the no holds barred rant is indicative up the frustration felt by everyone at Stark’s Park after a run of three league wins in 24 matches left them two points adrift of safety, however he is adamant now is not the time for acrimony.
Rovers will retain their Championship status if they defeat rock-bottom Ayr United and the Buddies lose to champions Hibernian at Easter Road – and Drysdale is counting on a “special” afternoon in Kirkcaldy.
He said: ‘We are coming off the back of a very bad performance and result, there’s no getting away from that, and of course there was frustration all round.
“However, it is about pitching in together, turning our shoulders to the wheel and grinding out a result. We have all seen these situations turned round and, if everyone turns up with the right attitude, then we are very hopeful we can get the three points.
“It is certainly one of our most important games in many years – and we need everybody with Rovers in their hearts to come together and encourage the players on the park to give their best and get the result we need.
“Hopefully the league champions, Hibernian, will help us out by getting the right result as they lift the trophy at Easter Road.”
Rovers have slashed their prices for the last-day decider, with tickets available at £5 for adults and £2 for children – and Drysdale has issued a rallying cry to Raith fans to turn out in numbers to ensure a tumultuous campaign ends on a high.
Raith’s form under John Hughes at Stark’s Park has been one of the few positives in recent weeks, with the ‘Yogi’ yet to taste defeat on home soil, claiming wins against St Mirren, Dundee United and Morton, while holding Queen of the South and Hibs to draws.
Drysdale continued: “We have reduced our prices for Saturday to try and generate a big crowd to cheer the boys on, and we believe that can make a difference. If the fans can come out and there is a big crowd, that is hugely important to everyone.
“It needs to be a special atmosphere to turn this around.
“The supporters have been through a lot this season – we all have – so the least we can do is reduce the prices to try and make up for it, in some small way.
“There have been some good results at Stark’s Park since John Hughes came in and Saturday is another important game and there is an awful lot at stake, so hopefully the players can turn in the performance that is required.”
While the Rovers chief is desperate to ensure there is no repeat of the struggles this term, Drysdale concedes that planning for next season is also on hold until the club know what division they will be playing in; a fact exacerbated by the fact that manager Hughes is out of contract at the end of the season.
He added: “There are so many uncertainties. We don’t know what division we will be in, we don’t know who our manager will be. As soon as we know what league we are in next season, the board will meet and make the key decisions needed.”