Arbroath deserve their chance of promotion ‘miracle’ at Kilmarnock, insists Dick Campbell

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The part-time side have defied all before them in their promotion challenge and led the cinch Championship for three months – a position they can reclaim with victory over leaders Kilmarnock on Friday night.

Campbell insists their place in the reckoning is deserved, but says the unfazed Angus side joining Scotland’s top 12 clubs would be a fairtytale given their status, how his tenure began and their improvement by annual increments since.

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After taking the Red Lichties to the League Two title in his first full season Campbell then won League One two years later. After three years in the second tier, they are assured second place in the table and a play-off semi-final place, at worst, regardless of Friday night’s result.

Arbroath manager Dick Campbell is relishing his side’s top of the table clash against Kilmarnock on Friday night. (Photo by Ross MacDonald/SNS Group)

“It doesn’t get any better,” said Campbell. “I remember six years ago we were down at Berwick Rangers and we lost quite heavily, I said ‘what have I done?’ but we have built a right good unit now.

“Don’t be misled by what we have achieved so far this season, first it was to stay in the league – which we did in January. In February we confirmed our playoff place, and [on Tuesday night] we confirmed second place. We’re a part-time team in a full-time environment. That can’t be dismissed.

“One or two people have been cold about the prospect of Arbroath being in the Premiership. That’s disappointing to me, but I’d say we deserve to be there because of what we have done. We have improved every year of the last six and we’re going to have a go at it.

“We’ve progressed up the leagues. We’ve only lost four games this year. The nearest team after us is on nine games and that’s Kilmarnock, so we deserve to be in what you might call a decider. It’s not really with the following week to go, but if Kilmarnock win, they win the league. If we do, we’ll have a chance to win the league next week.”

That, Campbell insists would be a miracle and one which only his players can achieve.

“It will be a miracle if it happens. Sir Alex Ferguson told me that in January. “Players make miracles happen” – he thought that too. He was 1-0 down with two minutes to go in a European Cup final and then, miracles happen.

“We went top of the league and Alex phoned to congratulate me and told me ‘keep it going son, miracles happen’, we’ll see what’s in front of us.”

Friday night’s match will be televised but watched live at Rugby Park by almost 2000 away fans making the cross-country trip, as part of a crowd that is estimated could approach five-figures. “What a reflection that is on Arbroath Football Club,” added Campbell.

“The goodwill towards us has been fascinating. I can’t walk down the street in Dunfermline without someone stopping me and wishing me well. But we have earned the right to be treated like that.

“Let’s take that into our own hands and see what happens on Friday – I’m looking forward to it.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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