Born to be a leaderMonday, 14th Sep 2020
Euan Murray:- “I need to win, I want to win all the time. If I don’t win I am not happy whether it is in training or whatever.
The Pars newly appointed captain for 2020-2021 season, Euan Murray, was elated to be selected to lead Dunfermline Athletic in their Championship challenge. Having been a leader right from his youth football days and with a self confessed obsession with winning, the choice to give Euan the armband really came as no surprise to anyone who has ever met him. He was keen to point out just what the task meant to him:-
“I am honoured to be made club captain, very proud while at the same time also very focused on the responsibility that I know I have. I am determined to try and be successful in the role and also successful for the club this season.
“When it comes to this kind of thing you just try to be yourself on the pitch as much as you can. There is no point in being somebody that you are not, everyone has different personalities. I think I am naturally quite loud and have always been. I try as best I can to lead and try to set an example, I am just delighted to be fair.”
Euan was captain through all the youth teams and reserves at Motherwell and his first taste of captaincy in professional football was as a 23 year old when playing in England with Southport.
“After my first match the manager who signed me, Steve Burr, was sacked and a week later a new manager, Andy Preece, came in and the first thing he did was call me in.
“I was just finding my feet at the club as a new player and he pulled me and the captain who was there at the time, Neil Aston. He basically just said that “while I am here you are my captain’.
“You can imagine the shock, I don’t think that I will ever experience that again when I had only been at a club for a week - a new manager coming in and pretty much disrupting everything that had been before it. I had to learn quickly.”
Euan had joined Southport in January 2017 to develop his game having identified them as a club where he would be defending for large periods of the game.
“In the six month period that I was there I probably learned more than I had learned in a good number of years. That league was physical and I was playing against strikers of all sizes and different ranges of pace. Obviously with the responsibility of captain I learned so much in a short space of time. It made the move worthwhile.”
Despite offers to remain in England, Euan as a new dad decided to return to Scotland and joined Raith Rovers where he was praised by their manager John McGlynn when he had to step in to be captain in Kyle Benedictus’ absence.
“I have already thought about the derby against Raith at Starks Park, it is no different to any other game it is just three points. Don’t get involved emotionally.”
After two seasons at the Rovers Euan joined the Pars for season 2019-2020 and he claims that there is a lot to take on board from the way skipper Paul Paton led the side:-
“He wanted to pick up results on a Saturday. He was a winner and I see myself as being a winner as well. There are different things that you can do as a captain which makes you the right man for that role but at the end of the day it all boils down to the club winning three points on a Saturday. That is one of the main things about me, I need to win, I want to win all the time. If I don’t win I am not happy whether it is in training or whatever.
“That hopefully can rub off. We have a really good group this year and whether it is me who is wearing the armband on a Saturday or whether it is Ryan Dow or any of the other boys, the most important thing is the club picking up three points. It is not about me or anyone else, it is about us doing well as a club.”
Euan feels that Dunfermline have strengthened with their seven new signings, he complimented the recruitment strategy and stressed that the team is capable of a good challenge this season:-
“We obviously did our business early doors bringing in a lot of quality boys. I think the ones who have come in have settled in really well considering that it has only been a short space of time. It feels at training that we have been together for a while.
“I think they all bring different attributes but if you look we have a fairly experienced squad, a squad full of people who have been there and done it. I heard the manager touch on that in an interview. Even with me as the captain, it could have been Steven Whittaker, Owain Fôn Williams or Ryan Dow. Paul Watson has experience at Dundee United, Declan McManus and Lewis Martin who has been at the club for years. You have so many boys who now know everything that is required at this level and also at this club. It is a massive club and that was the reason that I wanted to sign at Dunfermline over going elsewhere - the size of the club, the ambition and the potential of the club.
“It is important that nobody gets carried away too soon. We obviously have a good squad on paper but there is no point in talk just know, the important thing is going out on a Saturday and taking care of your business on the park.
“Other people can talk for us, there will be other teams in the league who are favourites and rightly so with their budgets but maybe there will be a bit more pressure on them to go and perform and to talk themselves up but for us it is important just to get ourselves as fit as we can and when we go into the games, take care of the business and keep ourselves quietly confident.”
The competitive season is just three weeks away with Dunfermline scheduled to meet Dumbarton in the Betfred Cup on 6th October. Euan admits that he hates pre season but this time after the five month closure due to a covid-19, he was delighted to get back on the training field.
“It was a massive lay off and I’m one of those football obsessed folk in general and it was the hardest thing when you couldn’t train or play. Genuinely in my career it is now the most that I have ever heard professional footballers looking forward to pre season. It is the most that I have looked forward to it because I hate it!
“We have all been champing at the bit to get back and now that we are back it is tough. Pre season is always tough but it has been really good and enjoyable. You always look forward to the pre season friendlies, they are there to get fitness in your legs and match sharpness.
“In the friendlies that will be arranged it is important to try and pick up the habit of winning as quickly as we can. Winning is a habit and the quicker you can get into the way of it, you get into a roll quicker with a feeling that you can do something.
“The friendlies will be important but the Betfred Cup games will be a test. We are playing against decent sides and it is good from that point of view going into the Championship season that the Betfred games will be as tough as what they will be. They are certainly not going to be any easy games in that.”
Euan praised the preparation that the coaching staff have done to be very well prepared to get the most out of pre season:-
“They are always well prepared but they have done particularly well in the conditions that we have been working in. Considering the restrictions it could have turned into something that could have been a bit strange and not enjoyable but in fairness to everyone of them they have made it brilliant. As I said it has been hard and we have got a lot of kilometres into our legs which you need.
“At the same time we have also seen a bit of the ball and worked on different things in terms of shape. From a players point of view you could not have asked more of the coaching staff. They are all playing their part. Greg Shields is in a different role this year and for me, he is excellent. It is good to see him stepping up to the first team.
“I know that he has the respect of all the boys, as all the other coaches do, but it is another boost to the first team that he is involved with us. With the gaffer, Jason Dair who is good as well and Greg and having Owain and Steven Whittaker coming in to help out, they have all played their part in making it very enjoyable while at the same time getting what we need out of the sessions.”
The first home game is the televised Betfred game against Falkirk, so how will the new captain feel leading the team out albeit it will be into what is likely to be a stadium devoid of fans?
“It will probably be strange, I can’t really say how it will go, it is obviously not going to be the same as it would be if all the fans had been there especially with it being a derby. Like a lot of things for me it is just trying to focus and focussing the lads to go out there and win. The fans will still be expecting a performance and expecting us to try and go and win the game.
“Take away the fact that there is no fans, it will be the same for both teams and it is up to us on the day to try and go out and stamp our authority with a performance which the fans will be happy with.”
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