Last updated : 28 December 2004 By Pars Mad

After seeing in the bells in style a Pars fan wonders if he'll make it to East End in time for the match.
Checklist for Saturday’s match against Dundee: season ticket, cash for a bridie, cash for a programme, anti-depressants, and as many ‘heidache’ tablets as I can manage!

Let’s face it, the only ones at East End Park this Saturday not suffering a hangover after a hogmanay severely spent on the piss are likely to be the players (hopefully!!!) and the mascots. With that in mind, only a win will do this New Year’s Day for the Pars against Jim Duffy’s Dundee side because, if the truth be told, the only thing worse than a big greasy fry-up when you’re nursing a hangover is watching your team getting humped on a freezing cold winter’s afternoon. So, bearing that in mind, relegation troubles aside, this Saturday’s fixture against a struggling
Dundee side represents a definite must-win for the Pars.

After a poor 3-1 away defeat to Jim Jefferies merry men – very poor considering Killie’s recent goal-shipping form – Jim Duffy’s Dundee side travel to East End Park knowing that nothing less than three points will do if they are to have any hope of pulling away from the relegation zone. Although having said that, with the
Dee sitting one point and one place above their Dundee neighbours, I’m sure some Dundee fans would consider this season as a success! With just two points separating the bottom four teams – the Pars, Livingston, Dundee and Dundee Utd – every single point is now, without doubt, vitally crucial in what has become a somewhat unexpected – but rather realistic – relegation battle for the Pars. Hailed as a saviour in recent months and years, Dundee’s resident Uncle Fester look-alike Jim Duffy is beginning to feel the pressure as the pressures of cost-cutting and under-performing players seem to be biting at Dens Park. Any disillusioned Pars fans out there – and lets face it there must be many! – can perhaps take solace from Dundee’s away record this season – the Dee winning just once in ten away league fixtures, losing their last six. However, with the Pars enjoying the joint worst home record in the SPL this season, optimism may well be aboard the Dundee players coach come this weekend.

In fixtures as crucial as this, the phrase “nothing to choose between them” usually makes an appearance in almost every single article previewing the fixture in question, yet nothing could be more true in terms of the past record between the Pars and Jim Duffy’s Dundee side. In a total of 89 encounters each team has 35 victories to their name, the sides drawing nineteen of those fixtures. The
East End Park record between the two sides is slightly more one-sided with the Pars winning 23 times out of a total of 44 encounters, losing just twelve. Although, with John Yorkston’s beloved ‘plastic pitch’ deteriorating with each week that passes, you’d have to seriously question whether or not home advantage truly benefits the Pars these days – with only two home league wins all season you’d have to think no!

Although positives (not exactly a word which has been over-used at
East End in recent times) can be taken from the Pars more recent record against the Dee. The Pars have lost only once to Duffy’s men in the last thirteen encounters, winning the last four against the Taysiders. The most recent of those four straight victories arrived on the 23rd of October, providing a rare highlight in what has been an otherwise disastrous campaign. Thanks to goals from Scott Thomson and Derek Young the Pars came away from Dens Park with an excellent 2-1 victory backed by a small but very vocal Pars support – although, in truth, not many of those Pars fans remained for the duration, such was the incompetent behaviour displayed by the Dundee jobsworths…sorry, Stewards. Coming the week after a shocking performance and result against Livingston (an omen perhaps…) the Pars produced one of their best displays of the season, in turn coming away from the City of Discovery with three valuable points – hard work which, I stress, has since been undone by poor result after poor result.

With the promise of an upturn in form once the injury crisis clears up, it may be true to say that many Pars fans have been awaiting the return of certain players with baited breath. Although, if the truth be told, the word ‘crisis’ can hardly be described as apt in terms of the current situation. A brief inspection of the Pars starting eleven against Livingston on Monday and you would perhaps have noticed that just two genuine first-team players were absent from the Pars starting lineup – namely Scott Thomson and Greg Shields. The inclusion to the starting lineup of other players such as Ritchie Byrne, Simon Donnelly and Derek Young would have to be considered far more doubtful in terms of regularity. Although long-term absentees Greg Shields, Simon Donnelly, Ritchie Byrne and Derek Young continue to be a long way off a first-team return, captain Scott Thomson may well be fit to make a return come the visit of
Dundee this Saturday. Disregarding Saturday’s team in terms of personnel, Saturday’s team lineup in terms of tactics is, quite frankly, anyone’s guess – although if you were to guess ‘4-4-2 and long-ball style’ then you would no doubt be spot on!

With just one win in the last eight – and only five wins in 24 all season – the possibility of relegation and subsequent First Division football is becoming more and more real with each passing game. With a number of Pars players playing well below their capabilities, big performances is, without doubt, required from every single Pars player as every single fixture seems to adopt the ‘must-win’ tag.

Although, with Saturday also bringing about a New Year, let’s just hope that the New Year also brings about an upturn of fortunes for the Pars. Let’s also hope that the Pars players and management team have a set of New Year Resolutions to adhere to; namely win a game or two, and avoid relegation!