Last season stretched into the final day, requiring a point to ensure the Gayfield club wouldn’t be dragged into the Championship’s relegation play-off. This time promotion play-offs are the minimum as Dick Campbell’s side enter a top-of-the-table clash at Kilmarnock aiming to take their ‘fairytale’ title pursuit into next weekend.2
Avoiding defeat at Rugby Park would extend the title race into the final fixture, but even second place would still be a signal of how far Arbroath have progressed, Thomson says, though the longer route to the top is not yet being contemplated as both sides go. for the win this evening.
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“I don’t think we take a mindset of the play-offs. The focus is the title. That is within our reach but it is not going to be easy,” Thomson said.
“We have beaten [Killie] twice and drawn – we got a win down there last time but you can almost treat this like a one-off game. There might be a bit of the cup mentality around it even though it’s not ‘winner takes all’. If we are successful it doesn’t mean we have won the title, for them it does, but for us it needs next week too.
“They will fancy themselves at home but it’s not going to be easy for either team. Both will feel confident they can win the game, so it should be a good spectacle.”
Moving part-time and signing for Dick Campbell four years ago Thomson never expected he could be playing for Premiership promotion and back where he started out at Hearts or came close to with Raith Rovers.
However, the defender has witnessed a gradual progression at Gayfield, successful steps on foundations of strength to take the club into this evening’s cliffhanger in Kilmarnock.
“When I signed for Arbroath they were a good part-time team getting to play-offs, but never did I think we would be promoted that season and then a few seasons later could be on the verge of winning the Championship – nobody would have predicted that.”
While unexpected, Thomson isn’t too surprised by the club’s journey.
“There have been guys before me like Ricky Little who have been here since the bottom of League Two with 200-300 fans at games and come right through. I have only ever experienced a buzz about the stadium, Arbroath as a place, the board and fans, winning League One and staying in the Championship for three years.
“It is down to the gaffer and management bringing the right players into the squad and building. That is what I have seen each year, adding one or two, never a big overhaul. That is the way to work because you have seen teams in the past who have rushed through the leagues. Hopefully the way Arbroath has done it leads to longevity and success.
“For me it would be great and I think every player in the squad will have their own story to tell.
“There are still tough times ahead, whether that’s Friday, next week or further on in the play-offs, we will take it as it comes and see where we are at 10pm.”