PAUL DIXON endured the darkest day of his career when Dundee United crashed out of the Premiership.
And the Falkirk defender is determined to channel that excruciating experience into ensuring the Bairns do not suffer the same fate.
Ray McKinnon’s side slipped to the foot of the Championship following a nightmare week, losing 2-1 to Alloa last Saturday before results in midweek went against them – leaving them three points adrift of guaranteed safety.
Nevertheless, Dixon is relishing his role as an elder statesman at Falkirk and, alongside fellow veterans such as Paul Paton, will aim to help calm heads prevail in their fight for survival.
He is no stranger to a dogfight, having been part of the United side that suffered an ignominious relegation from the top-flight at the hands of their bitter rivals Dundee in 2016.
And he said: “That relegation is something I never want to go through ever again. It is probably the worst feeling I’ve had in my career and it is something that acts as motivation.
“I wouldn’t want any of the players or staff here to experience that.
“As one of the elder pros here, and having been in this sort of position before, my job in the team is to pass on some of my experiences to the younger boys, help them through it and make sure they feel comfortable to go out and play their own game.
“I’m happy to take that on. There are a couple of us in the dressing room who have been in this situation before, whether that’s been part of a coaching staff or as players.
“All we can do is try to keep everyone positive and keep their heads up. While that all-Tayside affair will always be a brutal memory for Dixon, he hopes another hotly contested derby day will give Falkirk the opportunity to kick-start their survival bid.
They travel to fierce foes Dunfermline this afternoon seeking to replicate their November heroics, when a Zak Rudden screamer proved enough to secure a memorable 1-0 triumph.
Dixon will also call upon his own memories of powder-keg five-goal thriller in Yorkshire when the Bairns head to East End Park.
He continued: “My best derby experience is probably playing for Huddersfield against Leeds [October 2013]. I’ve been lucky enough to play in a lot of derbies through my career, but that one just had a special feeling in terms of what was riding on that game.
“It was also important to my own personal situation, I hadn’t been playing for a couple of months and the manager just threw me in out of nowhere.
“To beat our biggest rivals 3-2 with a late winner was pretty incredible. They were flying high, while we needed something to turn our season around, so I remember that one as being pretty sweet.
“It’s always special to play in a derby and, regardless of where you are in the world, it is a unique occasion for the supporters of the clubs involved. It’s a clean slate, league position and form don’t matter, and we want to send our fans home happy.”
To that end, Dixon is adamant Falkirk are travelling east full of confidence, choosing to focus on their run of just two defeats in 13 outings rather than obsess about their precarious league position.
He added: “If you focus on negative things then you are only going to create a negative mindset.
“I can only speak for the time that I’ve been at the club, it’s 13 games and two defeats. That is a very good return. Okay, there are seven draws in there – but five of those draws were coming from losing positions, so those can be considered points gained.
“We just need to remember that. We’ve been competitive in every game since I’ve been here so it has all been about positivity.”