NICKY CLARK reckons pre-match pep talks are playing their part in Dunfermline’s play-off push – just do not call it a huddle!
Clark has scooped the Ladbrokes Championship player of the month award for March after netting two hat-tricks during the month as the Pars reignited their promotion dreams.
The Fifers stretched their run to just one defeat from their last 10 matches to stay third in the table with Saturday’s derby triumph over bitter rivals Falkirk and are now close to clinching a top-four finish.
The determination to ensure they land that coveted play-off place has been clear just before kick-off in recent games as skipper Callum Morris has gathered the side together for some last-minute words of encouragement.
But, although the players form a circle, former Rangers striker Clark has joked he has done his best to ensure it does not resemble Celtic’s famous pre-match ritual.
He smiled: “It’s definitely not a huddle!
“I can’t remember when it started but it was big Callum who introduced it, it wasn’t me!
“It just gets us a wee bit fired up and you get the reaction from the crowd as well just before the start of the game.
“To be fair, in the last few games we’ve started really well.
“I don’t know if it’s from that but it’s just something the captain decided to do and it seems to be working alright for us.
“It’s not a kick up the backside but it’s just him saying ‘come on, it’s down to us on the pitch, we’re the ones that need to go and do it’.
“In the last few games, we’ve kept the run going and kept the momentum going and it’s been working.
“But I’ve made sure there’s none of that huddle stuff!”
Clark took his season’s tally to 20 with seven goals in three games last month and is hopeful both he and Dunfermline are hitting top form at the right time.
And the former Queen of the South and Peterhead marksman knows from bitter experience the Pars will need that if they are to stand any chance of achieving their aim of returning to the top-flight.
Clark played in all six play-off matches for Rangers in 2015 when, after seeing off Queen of the South and Hibs, their promotion hopes died in a 6-1 aggregate loss to Motherwell in the final.
He added: “The play-offs are definitely weighted in favour of the Premiership team. Especially if you’re third or fourth in the Championship, it’s really hard to get through.
“That time with Rangers we fell at the final hurdle.
“But hopefully this season, if we can get to the play-offs, I can go one step further.”