Dunfermline Athletic

Declan seeks sweet celebrations

Thursday, 14th Jan 2021

“I don’t mind going to celebrate by myself as long as we are scoring and winning games I will stick to any rule that gets set.”

Declan McManus is happy to escape home schooling duties for his two little girls, and tv programmes like the Kardashians and Disney Plus, relieved that football can continue in the Scottish Championship.

For the Pars striker Cappielow and Greenock Morton Football Club retain really fond memories but this Friday he returns for the seventh time still seeking his first win as an opponent.

Declan McManus’ last started a game on Boxing Day against Arbroath and found himself on the bench until midway through the second half of the last Dunfermline match at Inverness. He lamented over matches against Raith Rovers and Morton falling victim of the freezing conditions:-

“Sometimes in Scotland you get terrible weather, the pitches are not great and there is nothing that we can do about it. We just need to keep training and wait for the next game.”

The Dunfermline players were training on Monday when the SFA announced the suspension of the Scottish Cup and the lower leagues for three weeks, he sympathised with those who are now sidelined:-

“It is good for us that we are managing to keep going out and doing what we loved to do. There are so many boys that I know in League One and League Two, I know a lot of them are part time and have their jobs, but football is what we love to do. It is getting halted for them and we are obviously the lucky ones to be able to go about our everyday business.

“I was on loan at Falkirk and I dare say they have got the means to pay for the testing as well we do but I can completely understand the decision given that there are a lot of boys who have to go to their work. Thankfully we are full time, we have to stay in our bubbles and focus on our training. I am obviously glad that we can continue playing and hopefully we can continue our good run of form as well.”

In three loan spells at Morton in 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 Declan scored 28 goals in 53 appearances, he recalled:-

“I did really well in my first season on loan at Morton. We ended up winning the league and I was PFA Player of the Year. I have really fond memories as it was my first trophy as a player. Winning the league for the first time was something special that I will always remember.

“We had a really good squad and a really good dressing room, I am still in touch with many of the boys who were in that dressing room most days.”

His first spell of regular first team football season turned out to be an eye opener and a big test for Declan who was an Aberdeen player at the time. Before that he had a loan spell at Alloa and only made seven starts (and scored his only goal against Morton).

“That had not worked out for more reasons than one. I struggled a bit at Alloa because we were a team that was on the back foot trying to get as many points as we could by defending for most parts.

“The time at Morton was completely different. I had a great manager in Jim Duffy and a good team at that level. We were on the attack for most of the game, it suited me and I managed to get into the swing of things. I started well scoring goals from the start and that helped. It continued and we went on to win a league. It was just a great season for me personally and for the team.”

As a Morton player Declan always liked playing at Cappielow and they took advantage of opponents not particularly going there:-

“I always liked playing at Cappielow as a Morton player. My recollection of it is that the pitch was better back then for some reason. I always thought that is was a good pitch when I played there. It has maybe taken a wee bit of a downturn since then but the place as a whole is a hard place to go and play.”

Declan has returned six times as an opposition player with three different clubs - Raith Rovers, Dunfermline and Ross County - and lost six times.

“I have been back when I have not been playing with Morton and it is never an easy game. I don’t know if I have won there since to be honest. The fans when they are there make a lot of noise, it is a tight pitch and if the pitch is not in great condition it makes it tough. The Morton teams make it tough, they are always hard to beat and it will not be any different on Friday.”

With losing their manager this season, Morton have had some challenges but it does not seem to have affected their results with everyone aware that are the only team that has beaten Dunfermline in the league this season:-

“For us as a team there is that extra incentive to go there and take points off them like they did to us. They are a very hard team to beat, really well set up and they know their jobs. They are a hard working team so after we played them and having seen how they played and how they are hard to beat, I am not surprised that they are doing well in other games as well.”

Declan would dearly like to celebrate three points from Cappielow but acknowledged football is in a privileged position just now and that players in the Championship and the Premiership have to be cautious and try to maintain physical distancing when it comes to celebrations on the park.

“We have spoken about it but in the moment your head is completely in the game. It is like every other game, you forget about Covid for the ninety minutes. When you score a goal you are ecstatic, it is just a natural reaction to go and hug your scorer or the guy who has just set you up for the goal.

“I can understand why it has been brought up, it is maybe something that players need to try and be more aware of but it is quite hard in the moment of the game.

“I don’t mind going to celebrate by myself as long as we are scoring and winning games I will stick to any rule that gets set.”



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