New signing Lee Ashcroft has made an immediate positive impact in the Pars team with some assured pre-season displays. Since the Dunfermline first team squad was overhauled in the summer of 2015, a combination of factors has seen Ben Richards-Everton partnered in central defence with 4 different players. Club captain Callum Fordyce was the first, until his injury in September 2015. Marc McAusland was signed as an experienced replacement for Fordyce, and did an excellent job during his short term contract which ended in January this year. Allan Johnston then brought in Brad McKay on loan from St Johnstone, and he contributed to the strong run in to the title win.
Ashcroft, still 22 years old, is younger than McKay, McAusland and Fordyce, but has the demeanour and the appearance of a more experienced player. He captained his only other club, Kilmarnock, for a spell and played 65 Scottish Premiership games in his time at Rugby Park. In an interview in 2014, he commented on how fortunate he felt to be playing full-time professional football:
“I was brought up in Barrhead and played with Barrhead Boys Club most of my life then Hillwood for a year which included the Scottish Amateur Cup Final in 2010.
“One month later my dad gave me a phone call to say that Kilmarnock had been in touch and I thought he was joking. Alan Robertson had come to see the final and brought me in when Mixu Paatelainen was in charge at the club.
“I genuinely didn’t know what I was going to do so I was quite lucky that I got the phone call and things have gone the way they have. I didn’t play pro-youth as I played boys club right up until turning full time.
“I’m still in touch with most of my friends from school. It’s weird that I used to play with these guys in Barrhead. They can’t believe I’ve made it to where I am. It’s brilliant and they are thrilled for me.
“It all came down to a bit of luck and being spotted playing at the right time. I don’t know what I would be doing with my life had that not happened.
“We had some great players at Hillwood but apart from Ross Docherty who joined Livingston, the rest of the boys have slipped away.
“It’s a bit of luck to get picked up and when nobody comes in for you it’s a case of thinking it’s passed you by. It’s absolutely amazing - the steps I’ve taken from boys club football, moving full-time and then being here for four years and playing regularly. but it’s about hard work and having someone with a bit of faith in me."
Having seen our new defender in 4 pre-season games, I have no doubts that he is exactly the type of player and personality that will be required for the forthcoming Championship season. Talent and leadership are two qualities that he undoubtedly brings to the squad. The number 4 shirt is in good hands for the season ahead.
Photos by Pars Review