The Pars captain has played in eight previous Raith v Dunfermline derbies but Saturday’s will be the first in black and white. Kyle made the switch from Central to West Fife in June 2022 and he played 43 matches as he duly led Dunfermline to the League One title in his first season. Now he hopes to kick off the competitive season with a win over the club for which he worked for seven seasons. “It’s a great game to start off with” claimed Kyle:-
“You probably couldn’t have asked for a better game to go into the season. It’s on TV as well, so there will be a lot of eyes watching and we know how much it means to both sets of fans. I’ve played in the game before and I know what it means to both sides. So, both teams will be going for the win and I’m sure it’ll be a cracking game.
“I had good times at Raith but I’m not sure what kind of reception I’ll get. I’m expecting some boos, but that’s part and parcel of football, it’s to be expected. I’ll just concentrate on my own game and my team-mates and then hopefully we can come out on top at the end.
“A few of the boys are still there from my time at Raith, so I know some of them and it’ll be good to see them again. Lewis Vaughan, Ross Matthews, Jamie Gullan, Liam Dick, Sam Stanton are still there from my time. They’ve signed a lot of new players this season and their manager will be trying to blend his squad, so it’ll be an interesting game and one that the fans will definitely enjoy.”
Dunfermline have not lost a competitive match since January and that means they have gone 16 undefeated. Kyle is keen to use that mindset and keep that record going:-
“The friendlies have been tough with good opposition for us to get started. We don’t want to change much from last season. We had a winning mentality around the squad all season and we’ve taken that into this season. The pre-season games have been difficult – St Johnstone, Hearts, high-quality opposition and we’ve more than matched them. So we’ll be looking to do that again.
“We know it’ll be a tough game, away to Raith. They’ve done well through pre-season as well, but the manager always tells us in training what we can do better to impose our game on the opposition, and we’ll be looking for that to come to fruition on Saturday, hopefully it goes our way.”
Raith Rovers finished seventh in the cinch Championship last season, and all the indications are that their ambition will be to do much better this season. The Championship is a notoriously competitive league and Saturday will give the Pars an indication of the level they need to be at. “Do we need to improve, are we still as good as what we were last season?” posed Kyle.
“We want to do the same as last season. Obviously, it’s going to be a harder league, there’s no doubt about it but if we can go in with the same team spirit as we’ve had and the boys train as hard as they did last season, then nothing’s changed.
“Let’s just go and see what we can do. I don’t like making predictions. I didn’t do it last year and I’ll not do it this year. We’ll just see how we get on and nothing’s done when it comes to August. It’s this League Cup first and we’ll see what happens.
“I’ve always said I don’t think there’s much difference between the top end of each league to the bottom of the other league. We might be a surprise package – most teams are not going to know what we’re about until the first nine games. We’ll just go in with the confidence of last year. We lost one league game in the whole of the campaign and if that doesn’t give you confidence then nothing will. I’m sure the boys will be buzzing come Saturday.”