After playing for much of his career in Scotland’s lower league, midfielder Joe Cardle has now set his sights on showing what he can do in the SPL with newly promoted Dunfermline Athletic.
The man who hails from Blackpool, has fought his way to Scotland’s top league after spells at Port Vale, Clyde and Airdrie before signing for Dunfermline back in 2009. Now he will face the cream of what Scotland has to offer and can’t wait to pit his wits against all the clubs in the SPL, especially the Old Firm.
Joe said: “I am very excited to be playing against all the teams, especially the Old Firm. I have had a taste of playing them both in Cup competitions and can’t wait to pit my wits against them in the league.”
However his career in Scotland didn’t start as well as he would have hoped for, as he was sent off 25 minutes into his debut for Clyde as they faced Dundee.
Joe said: “My Clyde debut was my first game on Scottish soil and I was taken by surprise with the pace of the game. I was very disappointed as I was booked in the first 10 minutes for diving when everybody including the Dundee players agreed it was a stonewall penalty. The red came after I went for a 50-50 ball with McDonald. I couldn’t believe it and thought to myself should I turn around and go back to Port Vale, however I’m glad I stuck it out.”
Despite the bad start, Cardle made ten appearances for Clyde before injury cut short his loan spell at the club, returning to Port Vale.
However it wasn’t long before he was back in Scottish Football, this time with Airdrie United. After making 33 appearances for Airdrie and scoring two goals for Kenny Black’s side, Cardle clashed with captain Marc Smyth in a game against Livingston and was sent off. Four days later he left by ‘mutual consent’.
Joe commented on the incident: “I acted on the spur of the moment and I learned an awful lot from that experience, the whole thing was a breakdown in communication. Big Marc got me mixed up with another Airdrie player who had lost possession which led to their [Livingston] fourth goal and the combination of losing the goal [I don't like losing] and Marc’s verbal onslaught mistakenly directed at me, made me lose it. I can’t remember much after that, however as I said, it was completely out of character and will never happen again.”
Despite the bust-up and leaving Airdrie under a cloud, Cardle states that he is still on good terms with his former Airdrie team mates.
Joe added: “I would like to say I never fell out with anyone at Airdrie, least of all Marc Smyth and I still have a lot of contact with Kenny Black who I credit as being one of the best managers I played under.”
Last season saw Dunfermline go on an unbeaten run of 12 games at the end of the season, to secure the First Division title by ten points and with that automatic promotion to the SPL. And Joe said that it was the best moment of his career so far.
He added: “It was the best moment of my career so far. I’ve won cups with Airdrie and with Port Vale as a youth player, but the satisfaction of a season long campaign, eventually coming out on top and then becoming Champions will live with me forever.”
Dunfermline will of course face tougher competition this season, as they look to do battle in the SPL for the first time since Season 2006/2007. Back then, the Pars won just eight games out of 38, drawing eight and losing 22.
In terms of the way Dunfermline will set out their stall this season, Joe said that it all depends on who they will be playing. Despite being comfortable going forward, Joe admits: “Against the bigger teams we will have to be a lot more defensively minded and perhaps adopt a more patient strategy”.
Dunfermline will hope to at least replicate the form that saw them secure SPL safety in their first season back in Season 2000-2001, when they came 9th. But as the Pars are the Bookies favourite for relegation, Joe Cardle believes that the Fife club could surprise many.
He said: “I really do think we will surprise a lot of teams in the coming season, we are a relatively unknown outfit and could easily cause a few upsets.”
Dunfermline have added SPL experience to their squad with the signings of St.Mirren duo John Potter and Paul Gallacher. Queen of the South’s Paul Burns has also made the move to East End Park and Joe said of the signings: “I think all of the new signings the Gaffer has made will bring a lot more experience to the squad. We have the likes of Paul Gallacher who has international experience. Both him and John have had the benefit of playing in the SPL recently, that should help the rest of us who have still to experience it.”
Former Port Vale manager Martin Foyle had high hopes for Cardle who said that he hoped that he would make it into the Premiership, likening him to a young Steven Gerrard. When asked if it was his ultimate goal to return to English Football, Joe was honest and open about it.
He admitted: “My aim is ultimately to play back down South, however I’m in no particular hurry as I am still learning my trade and enjoying the experience up here. I’m contracted with Dunfermline for the next two years, which is a long time in football. So we’ll see where we are after that, but yes it would be nice to return home to England when I reach my peak in a few years time.”
But for the time being Joe will have to settle for the cream of Scottish Football in the SPL as he continues towards realising his potential and ambition to play at the highest level, having earned the right after many years in the lower leagues.
Joe added: “I believe that I have earned my right to play there and can’t wait to show what I can do.”
Scotzine would like to thank Joe for agreeing to the interview and we wish him well for the new season.