St.Johnstone manager Derek McInnes today welcomed former Dundee United defender David McCracken back to Scottish football as the 29-year-old defender signed a two-year deal with the McDiarmid Park club.
After David made his competitive debut versus Celtic, his progression and string of impressive performances would not go unnoticed and International football at Under 21 level was next on the agenda for the big man.
David earned many plaudits in his time with the Tannadice club with his solid performances in his time with the club. It was perhaps a shock to many that David was told that he could leave the club at the end of the 2006-07 season.
David could have stayed in Scotland where he had his friends and family but he chose to take a gamble and move to England. Leaving Scotland meant a new challenge for David and his young family but it was a gamble that would pay off.
When David moved to Adams Park, he was not going as just another signing, although that would have been enough for him, he was given the captaincy on his arrival, that was just how much the club and manager Paul Lambert thought of him.
After a settling in period in his first season, David and the club had a dream second season as not only were Wycombe promoted to League One but David was also named in the PFA League Two Team of the Year for season 2008-09.
But after these fantastic achievements with Wycombe, David moved to neighbours MK Dons and then to Brentford but after a frustrating time there he ended up moving on loan to Bristol Rovers, where he was voted man of the match on his debut match for the club.
Now after his English adventure David has returned home to play his football once again in his beloved Scotland.
I managed to catch up with David and gather his thoughts on his move back to Scotland and the SPL with St.Johnstone.
DMcC: “It was good to sign for a club like St.Johnstone especially after obviously last year as I never really had a decent season and it is just good to get back into it and hopefully going to be playing again soon.”
“When I spoke to Del (the gaffer) that was the biggest part of me signing for the club, he told me just to get my game back on track and he told me that I was coming to a club that was going forward and he was just really positive about it, so that helped me.”
“We were going to move back up to Scotland next year but because of the situation at Brentford, Del said he was interested in me so that made the decision that bit easier and obviously because I never played much last year, it is good to get back to the SPL.”
“Even just looking around the club today, you can see that it is a good set up and they know how to run the club and how they want to run it and the way they want to go forward are not going to step out within their means and that is why they have never been associated with any sort of money problems or any kind of worries like that.”
SG: Was the experience of English League Football an enjoyable one?
DMcC: “Overall it has been a good experience.”
“When I left United, it was a time were I had to get out of Scotland to change my game because I wasn’t playing well at all, so in that sense it has been brilliant because my game has come on and I am a different type of player now, so it has
definitely helped that way.”
“I went down to Wycombe and in the first year I done ok but in the second year we got promotion and then after that I moved to a couple of clubs, so I have gained more experience that way as well.”
“When I signed for Paul Lambert at Wycombe, there was another two or three players who could have been captain, Gary Holt, big Scotty Shearer in goals, so getting the captaincy there was good, I think that in itself improved my game, taking
on a bit more leadership, it feels every game that you have to prove that you are worthy of being the captain, so I think that did help massively.”
“The biggest disappointment was last year was going to Brentford and nothing really happened!”
“I wanted to go there from MK Dons and kick on again but that never really happened.”
“Although when I went to Bristol Rovers, it was good to get out on loan from Brentford but then obviously with what happened down there with the manager who signed me (Dave Penny) he ended up getting the sack as well and then the skipper Stuart Campbell who was then in charge, ended up playing most of the boys who were already there, which was fair enough, but it was still good to get out and get a refreshing time at a different club.”
SG:Although this is a new challenge, will this SPL be any different to the one you left behind in 2007?
DMcC: “Maybe, a couple of people have asked me what is the difference between Scottish Football and English Football and I always say not that much!
“Sometimes you may get more time on the ball but there is not really much difference once the games get started and it will be good to get playing again and obviously coming up against players who I have not seen for a few years or coming up against different players who have come through the ranks etc, it’s a new challenge for me and I can’t wait for it”
SG:Talking about players coming through the ranks, do you think Derek McInnes maybe look to players like yourself and Calum Davidson as the more experienced players to help bring on the younger players at the club as grassroots football is a big thing up here now?
DMcC: “Yes, I hopefully I can do that! As you say hopefully myself,Calum and the guys who are already there like Jody Morris, Dave MacKay and a few of the other guys who obviously will try to help the younger guys who are coming into the squad and I have done this for a couple of years now because I know that when I was younger, the experienced players took you under their wing and helped you out and gave you a few pointers and that kind of thing definitely helped, so hopefully I will be able to do that with some of the boys.”
SG: Being back in Scotland you can always look forward to big matches especially against the Old Firm.
DMcC: “It will be good to play in the big games at Parkhead and Ibrox, I am really looking forward to that and especially as we play Rangers early on in front of live TV, so that will be good.”
Knowing David and his family well, I know just how much it will mean to them to be “back up the road”.
DMcC: “Now that the move is finalised there is a certain element of stress that you have to live with having to move house again but I can say that Jennifer and Rachel are looking forward to coming back up the road also to be close to the family again as they have missed that, so that will be good.”
Fans of the Perth club will remember David from his days at SPL rivals Dundee United and most will know that they are not only getting an honest, hard-working professional who loves the game but what they may not know is they are getting one
of the good guys of the game to come and play for their club.
Footballers of today can be a strange lot but I can assure you, David is one of the nicest guys I have come across in the game today and I wish him and his family all the very best in their return to Scotland.