“Fortunately, my gamble of having a little run paid off” – James Vincent tells us what it feels like to score the winner in a National Cup Final

This article was recently published in the Official Dunfermline Athletic Football Club Match-Day Programme at an SPFL Ladbrokes Championship fixture. Thanks go to DAFC for allowing me to publish my interview on my website.

It was 2015 and new Pars midfielder James Vincent was lining up against Falkirk in the William Hill Scottish Cup Final He, and his Inverness team-mates, made history as the Highlanders lifted the trophy…with no-other than the Englishman popping up with the winning goal in the dying seconds!

The 28-year-old is a Manchester City supporter who grew up in Glossop.

“My brother and my dad both used to play football. My brother played for Sheffield United when he was younger, so I kind of followed him, as he is a few years older than me. I started off with my local side, Glossop Juniors – which is in the Derbyshire area – and then I signed for Stockport County when they were in League One. I think, like everyone, no matter where you are from, you look up at the Premier League as it is one of the biggest leagues in the world and you think “I would love to be on that stage doing those things”, but, everyone finds their level and enjoys it, and I have enjoyed my career so far.

Manchester City were my team as my dad used to go and support them, especially when they used to play at Maine Road, so I am not just following the money! [Manchester] United were the main team there and then, when I was growing up, so I wouldn’t say I looked up to them as an inspiration as they were basically a rival, but, I would say that I looked at the foreign teams such as Barcelona, pre-Pep Guardiola days and saw why so many people wanted to play the game in that kind of style. I have always tried to replicate my game on that style.”

Vincent joined Stockport County at a very early age and worked his way through the ‘Centre of Excellence’ before reaching the first-team.

“I was with Glossop Juniors from as early as I can remember – they were a district team playing in the local Derbyshire league before I got scouted by Stockport when I was around 10 years old. I went and signed papers with them, usually just a year-by-year contract. I really enjoyed it, the standard was good and we played a lot of good teams. From the age of 16, the set-up is slightly different in England: you get a 2-year apprentice deal, which is basically a youth contract. I was lucky enough to get one of them after working hard. That takes you up to 18 and after that, you either get cut adrift and try make your own way…I know a lot of lads who went off to college. Or, you become a first-year pro and I was lucky enough to be given this opportunity.

I was always a midfielder by trade; I used to play out on the right, when I had a little pace, until I lost it! I’ve played right-back before, too. I think a lot of midfielders can fill in at right-back sometimes, it is almost natural to them. I have played in the number 10 role, mainly at Inverness. We used to play a 4-2-3-1 and I played anywhere along that forward three. I enjoyed that, but, more often than not, I have played in the centre of midfield: nine times out of ten though, midfielders can play multiple positions, it is just about having to adapt. I have always been quite a fit lad, if I am honest. I have mainly always been top of the charts with the running in pre-season and things like that; i have always used my attributes that I was naturally given from my parents, as genetically I’ve always been a good runner, so, I am always going to use that trait within my game as much as I can. Apart from that, when you are growing up, it just about finding your own style, and you go from team to team and the style changes but luckily I am at a club where the manager wants to play football and that suits me.”

Looking over his early years as a professional with Stockport, the on-loan Dundee midfielders says:

“To be honest, Stockport have always been a big club – they still are just now, despite being in the Conference [National League] North. They are still getting 5-6,000 fans and they are similar to many teams’ stories, in terms of, they have gone into administration and been knocked down the leagues and are now trying to rebuild and work their way back up the divisions. In terms of when I was there, we played in League Two and then in League One. I remember the day when Stockport beat [Manchester] City…it is crazy how quickly football changes!

I had an Under-16’s manager who, at that time, then went on to become assistant manager and he told me I really shouldn’t just be looking at the youth team, I should always be striving ahead and looking towards the first-team: I was lucky enough I had people around me, who believed in me, while we also had a good set-up which allowed us to push forward. I was still a youth team player, then [when Vincent made his debut for Stockport], so, it was good just be involved with the first-team. It was good to get that experience as the next year, I got my first real contract so, then, you are expected to be competing while in and around the first-team, so, to get my debut while I was still in the youth team, it was a bonus and it’ll be a memory I will take with me forever.”

James only came on for the final 5 minutes as a substitute, however, it wasn’t an occasion which fazed the then youngster, due to playing with household names such as England international, John Ruddy.

“We also had the boy [Ashley] Williams who is now at Everton; [Anthony] Pilkington who is with Cardiff now…there was a lot of good players, a lot of big names, which shows the size of pull the club had to attract these players, as they all pushed on and became better for it. It was a good platform for everyone; when you are training day in, day out, with them you could tell they are good players, guys who will eventually move on. For a few weeks, I had been on and off the bench and they were telling me I just had to be patient to get my opportunity. The team was doing well, but, it was the last game of the season and I was still a youth team player so I was just happy to be involved and playing as I knew I was coming back in the summer a first-team player on a pro-contract so I was just looking to push on from there, really.

It sounds mad, but, it was all a bit of blur, to be honest. You get snippets of memories, but, it is mainly just excitement. You have been working hard and building up to that opportunity, so, you need to take and work on it from there. I wasn’t really daunted, to be fair, I was more just excited to be out there. We were winning at the time, so there was no pressure so to speak: the shackles were off, I just wanted to go out there and enjoy it, which I did. We had already found out who was getting kept on – there were only 2 or 3 of us – so, to break into the first-team with the quality of player we had, it was a massive confidence boost heading into the summer as I knew I then had a chance of being involved more the following season. Everyone likes a little downtime, and you always need to take your mind away from football for a little bit – especially in the summer – but, there are things you can do which makes sure that you hit the ground running when you do return, which will give you the best chance, which I have always done.”

‘Vinny’ made a reasonable start to the following campaign before he dropped out of the reckoning for a short spell.

“It was one of them things, but, it is almost something in which you expect as a youngster. The manager was good with us as he always spoke with us and say it is almost about blooding us [into the first-team]; to be thrown in, straight away, can be detrimental to a player sometimes, but, I remember I also got a little niggle and I missed a little time with that, but, I just had to take my chance when it came around. [My next appearance was] almost a perfect game for the team, as everyone was on it and everyone played well. I got my first goal, which was brilliant, it was a great moment for me and I was really chuffed.”

Vincent finished up that term with 3 goals in 19 appearances.

“I was really happy [with the way things were progressing]. As I have said, that season I was just looking for first-team opportunities and I got quite a few…obviously you always want more, but, I understood that it was about progression. We had a fantastic squad so it was always going to be tough: it was just about trying to get in and then making sure you done enough to stay. It is always difficult when you have a change of manager [after Jim Gannon left in the summer of 2009]. We had success and he moved on – he had always been good to me, he always spoke with me, he was always good with the young guys at the club; then Gary Abbott came in and he was also fantastic. He had a brilliant career and he took it on – he was a true gentleman and everything he done was professional.

The league was filled with big clubs – Leicester, Leeds, Southampton, Millwall – it was a strange one, but, it was a division everyone wanted to play in. You wanted to go away and play against teams such as Southampton, even though you knew in reality you’d get beat. These were clubs who were already geared up for the Premiership, but playing in League One. They were always going to blow away teams, but, it was a good experience and we just tried to show what we could do, too. You want to be playing at these sorts of grounds, you almost have to embrace it. It is like the Scottish version where you have teams going to play at Celtic or something like that. I don’t find that a daunting experience though, I thrive on it and view it as a chance to show what you can do; it was the same principles when you played these sides, you just wanted to do your best and tried get the most out of it.”

That season saw Stockport relegated to League Two.

“We have touched on all the big players we had and they had been sold in the summer, so, you could tell that the team wasn’t as strong as it was the previous year. Obviously, we had had success and you can tell these guys were going to move on: the club did that and they never really got replaced, if I am being honest. From my point of view, playing first-team football and experiencing that feeling of winning and losing was brilliant as it makes you stronger when you experience different sides of the game.

Everyone wants to play football, so you definitely take that as a positive [despite being relegated]. I felt, personally, I had a good season that year as I was playing in a good league, at a good standard, while also earning my position within the starting line-up, regardless of results, so, from that side of it, it was good. From a clubs’ perspective, it wasn’t great as we found ourselves going down to League Two.”

James final season at Edgeley Park saw the club relegated once again.

“The club was run terribly: I still couldn’t tell you the ins and the outs, but, money problems and a lot of the other issues could have been sorted out. It was [disappointing], to be honest. I took a couple of niggles throughout the course of the campaign and it made me miss a chunk of the season through injury, so, if that hadn’t happened, I’d have maybe played a few more games, but, that is part and parcel of football and you just have to go with it. It wasn’t as good as the year before but you just need to take the ups and the downs. [That summer] Stockport got rid of everyone; they cleared out the whole team. Whether that was due to money or not, I am not sure, but, they only held on to one player and that was because they felt they could get a fee for him…and in the end they didn’t! They almost literally started again, but, to be fair, after the disappointment of the last season, it was a breath of fresh air for me [to get a new club] and I went away to a new challenge.”

James signed for Kidderminster Harriers, despite them being in the same division as Stockport in season 2011/12.

“It was a move away from home, so, I felt that helped me develop as a person, off the field as well as on the field – it brings out a different side of you, as you have to grow up, which is good. I met the manager at that time, Steve Burr, and he was very ambitious; he knew the league well and he played nice football: he was also involved in the England ‘C’ set-up, which something which was attractive to me. He was good for me, I really enjoyed my time there and we were successful more times than not, so, it was definitely a good move for me. To be honest, the bottom half of League Two are probably similar to sides in the Conference [National League] at that time. Even though some of the games were more physical at times, that probably help me adapt my game a little bit more as I learned it wasn’t always about fancy football, I learnt the other side of the game. On one hand, I would rather have stayed in the league [English Football League], but, looking back, I am glad I done it [moved to Kidderminster] as it has made me who I am.”

Vincent scored a double for the first time in his career when his Kidderminster side defeated Braintree 5-4 in a Blue Square Premier thriller.

“Both teams played really well that day; it was very good, it was almost one of those end-to-end games where it just needs someone to put their foot on the ball and take the sting out of the game a little bit. Thankfully on that day, we came out on top. I got a fresh start, I played football, regular football despite having a couple of knocks here or there. It was positive in that aspect, it was good. We were unlucky [not to make the play-offs] in the first year. I had been offered a 2-year contract [the following summer], but, I wanted to only sign on for one year: I wouldn’t say I wanted to use the club as a stepping stone, but, I wanted to have a good solid season once again and then move on up the leagues again – whether that be with Kidderminster or someone else. It was an easy decision to make [to stay on] and I was happy to get going again.

By, probably, the first third of that season, we were comfortable even though, I think, we lost something like our first 10 games: then, we went on a run of something like 10 unbeaten. We knew we hadn’t started that season well, for one reason or another, maybe even a bit of luck at times, but, we knew there was nothing in the league that could bother us and we knew we could push up the league and make the play-offs. It was probably the most effective I had been – even although I enjoyed it a couple of years back as Gary Abbott tried to play football in the right manner – but, it was good and it was a real purpose of what we were trying to achieve; everyone was pulling in the right direction and it was enjoyable to be a part of.”

The final game for Vincent in English football, to date, was in the play-off final for Kidderminster.

“I think it [losing out in the play-off final] could be [the most disappointing moment in my career], but, I have also got getting relegated from League One when I thought I personally had had a good season, and it was a league I wanted to be in. We almost won the league with Kidderminster, on the last day of the season. We had to win and we did, but the other team had to lose but that didn’t happen. That was definitely a real disappointment and [in the play-off final] we just didn’t play as we had all through the season prior to that. It was just one of them days.

[The move to Inverness] came around about a week before the play-off final. I had heard that Terry Butcher and their scout at the time, Steve Marsella, were interested. They had watched a few games and then they offered me a contract. To be honest, it was something I wanted to do – even though Kidderminster had offered me another deal, as they wanted to go for the league again the following year – but, I only had one thing on my mind and that was to move up to Scotland.”

Vincent scored on his debut for Inverness against St Mirren in front of the Caley Thistle supporters, making an instant impact for the Highlanders.

“There were a couple of teams in English League Two who were interested in me at the time, but, because of my age, they would have had to pay a fee, whereas, because of the cross-borders rule, I could have went to Scotland for a free, so, with that in mind, my agent was more than happy to try and get this deal done. For me, it was a no-brainer. I wanted to play in this league [Scottish Premiership]; every time I had spoken with Terry Butcher or Steve Marsella, it made me want to get involved as they were ambitious and they had built up a good squad. If I am being honest, I wasn’t too sure [what to expect] – I knew the teams at the top of the league were good, but I wasn’t too sure about the standard as a whole. When I came up, I took it a day at a time, took everything as it was and I got to grips with it pretty quickly as I felt it suited my natural game. Terry Butcher was happy with me and he wanted me to be a big part of his plans.

I enjoyed working with Terry Butcher, he was really good for me and he is a really good manager. He was a different sort of manager, he really looked after me – and the rest of the players – in the press, as I found that was a lot bigger up here. Behind closed doors, he would tell you what he needed to tell you and everyone respected that: it was good and really positive. [It was good] to get the win; he [Terry Butcher] just asked me before the game if I wanted the penalties and I said “yeah” and thankfully we got one on day 1 and then we just went from strength to strength.”

The Pars’ number 26 was involved in, arguably, Inverness’ most successful spell as a club.

“I felt as if we had a really strong squad; I wasn’t too sure how good the other squads were at that point, though. On the flip side, it was the best dressing room I have ever been in: everyone lived in Inverness and, even though you already were, everyone was basically forced to become friends and that can only be viewed as a good thing as it brought us together and gave us a good team spirit. You can tell, looking back, that something special was about to happen there. I think John Hughes was in charge by the time of the League Cup Final. In one of my first games, we beat [Dundee] United, but, this [Scottish Cup Quarter-Final] was just a day where we never turned up [with Inverness losing 5-0]. On their day, Celtic are also a team who could blow anyone away [as Inverness also lost 5-0], so, it probably wasn’t perfect heading into [the League Cup Final], but, we knew we had a good team who could go on and achieve something.

A couple of the lads had been there a few years before me, but, for the majority of us, this was the first time we had been apart of this club having some sort of success, so, I don’t think anyone actually thought “we can get to the final”, even though we all wanted to reach it, we just took it game-by-game. Looking back, we probably set out a little bit defensive and we possibly could have taken the game to them as I felt both teams were slightly hesitant of each other and I think that showed in the result. I think if we had taken it to them a little bit more, we could have won it in the 90 minutes, but, as soon as it goes to penalties, it is pot-luck; someone has got to miss and unfortunately, we lost and that is just the way the game is – one team will come out as heroes, the other team won’t. I had already played at stadiums such as Celtic, as well as playing in front of big crowds in League One, so I never got fazed by that situation: I quite enjoy those matches and playing in those atmospheres.”

Vincent made 27 appearances, scoring once, in his first term in Scottish football.

“It was [a better start than expected], to be fair. It was a good year. I wasn’t too sure if I would break into the team straight away, but, it was something I was fortunate to do – especially with having a manager who liked me and took to me. I fell on my knee, though, around 15 games into the season and it took me out for 3 months: looking back at that side of it, and I know it is something you can’t really do anything about, as everyone has these wee ups and downs, but I was still disappointed [to miss so many matches].

This is the best football and the most football I have ever played in my life, when I joined Inverness. We rarely came across a team who just liked to knock it forward from the back and go route one. Scottish football is of a really good standard and if I am being a bit honest, it is probably a bit of a myth [that the standard of Scottish football isn’t very good], built up by the media, but, I was really impressed.”

The following year, Vincent’s second with Inverness, saw Caley Thistle create history.

“He [John Hughes] was ambitious from the get-go; he knew what he had inherited, in terms of the squad. His characteristics and his strengths made him know he could push us for the top six, for challenging in finals and he was a brilliant coach and, again, he was a different sort of character: he was a football character, someone who took us to that next level. He got us playing a style of football that was impressive and he was a real peoples person – he got the best out of us all, including myself, and that had a positive impact on the team. John Hughes was always good for me because he told me “if you are fit, you will play” but I kept on breaking down; I kept on getting wee niggles, here and there, and it was difficult, stop-start, which you never want as a player. You can’t mope around, though, you just need to see the positive, crack on and take your opportunity if it arises and that is what I did.

I think I had played every game prior to the [Scottish Cup] Semi-Final, but, [the Final] was a game I knew I was going to be involved in. The manager liked me as a player and I liked him as a manager, we got on well and had a good working relationship. I had only trained for a few weeks prior to the match so I knew I probably wasn’t going to be starting but I felt I could come on and make an impact, and thankfully I did! I think for the Final, I think we were seen almost as the better side as we were the league above. The plan was to take the game to them [Falkirk] and have a go. Our formation was certainly more attacking than the previous [League Cup] Final, so, I think we had learnt those kind of traits, while, we knew we were quite solid at the back as well. Falkirk played great on the day, and things don’t always go your own way, but thankfully we came out with the win.”

Describing what it is like to be a part of a Scottish Cup Final side, James explains:

“John Hughes took us away for 4 or 5 days prior [to the Final] to get us away from everything, so, we stayed in a hotel. We did a bit of training at Livingston’s ground and that helped everyone focus on the game. On the day of the match, you knew the team and you knew your position: I was on the bench but I always had a feeling I would come on. I was rooming with Marley Watkins, as well, who also scored on the day and we were both buzzing for it. You know you are at this big stadium but the occasion is about you this time; you ain’t going there and you are the away team…your own fans are there and they were all buzzing. Even in the weeks leading up to it, the city of Inverness made a massive effort of getting behind us as a team and supporting us ahead of the final. 

I knew if the manager told me I was starting, I would have been over the moon, but, with the season I had had, and the fact I’d only been training 10 days or maybe even just a week before the final because I had a wee niggle, I knew I was likely to be involved but not starting. The lads had performed well in the weeks leading up to the Final, but, it was a good environment to be in as everyone was pulling in the same direction within the changing room, so, we all wanted everyone to do well.”

Just three minutes after Vincent came on as a substitute, Inverness were reduced to 10-men.

“I came on as a number 10, just in behind the striker, as that is where I was mostly played – although, I was sometimes played as a third midfielder, but, given the licence to go forward as I had the legs to do it. I remember when Carl [Tremarco] got sent-off, I looked across at the manager and he was shouting to me “Vinny, you are going to need to fill in at right-back” and I was like “oh, great!”. With 10 men, you are expecting a more solid display, two banks of four and one up front; you are hoping to ride it out and see the game through to penalties. The way the game was going, it was very open and I managed to get a little chance.

To be honest, and each and every one of us will say the same, we all thought it was going to go to penalties. Falkirk were putting on the pressure, they were probably the better team and they were coming more into the game, so, we were just looking to get everyone in and behind the ball and have a good defensive display before building from there.”

Then, in the dying seconds, Vincent made history, striking the winner for Inverness and winning them the William Hill Scottish Cup for season 2014/15.

“I remember Marley [Watkins] broke away with the ball and I looked across and I realised nobody else was going to go because we all thought “he isn’t going to be able to do anything”, so, I just slowly started jogging forward at first before he nicked the ball past the first player so I broke into a half-run, half-jog, but, as I got over the half-way line, I thought “I have a chance here” so I started running into the box and, to this day, I tell him that he should have passed to me, but, in hindsight, I am glad he didn’t as it fell on a plate to me; I have a laugh with him saying he should have passed instead of being greedy, but, fortunately, my gamble of having a little run paid off. It was a stop-start season for me, like I said, but, to go out on a high like that, especially when you are doing it with a group of guys in which you call friends, then it was perfect.”

 After being Inverness’ hero in May, the midfielder struggled to make an impact at the start of the following campaign through more injury issues – which kept James out of playing in Europe for the Highlanders, too.

“You never want to miss out on games like that, but, it is part and parcel of football and you have just got to get on with it. [I am] a little bit [sad with the way things panned out in my final season at the club, as] when we played well, we played well. We played effective football, but, it was similar to the story of the previous year: I would get a niggle, it would keep me out for a month and then it would happen again. To be honest, it was probably something that could have been sorted out at the time and it would have been nothing, I could have pushed on, but, maybe I didn’t have the right people or the right environment for that to happen. I just had to get on with it; obviously I would have liked to have played more, but, I kind of knew I was leaving the club in the summer, anyways, so I was happy with what I had achieved in my time there.”

Vincent then signed a pre-contract agreement with fellow Scottish Premiership side Dundee, penning a 3-year deal in the City of Discovery.

“I was free to speak to other clubs as I was near the end of my contract. I spoke to Dundee and Paul Hartley about the club, his ambitions, how he wants to play football, what he hoped to achieve and what he thought of me and in the end it was something I wanted to be a part of as I played some really good football under him and I really enjoyed my time working with him. We had lost a lot of players, so to speak, from the team we had created so much success with, so, I just felt it was the right time to move on, for me, personally, and I was happy with that decision. Danny [Williams] was a player that Paul [Hartley] liked as well and it made it easier that I had a mate there that you can speak to and hang around with and that made the transition easier but the lads were good there, so, that side of it was no bother.

They [John Hughes and Paul Hartley] are certainly different characters, but, I think every manager I have worked under has been their own person, with their own personality and their own character. I think I have become a better player; I feel I have learnt more about the game tactically. Technically I was at a stage where I knew where I was at, whereas, tactically, I have gathered a lot more experience from playing in finals and coming up against different teams and this is something I have enjoyed. It was terrible, it was a shame, if I am honest [the sacking of Paul Hartley]. We went on a six game run where we couldn’t buy a win and that is what got Paul Hartley the sack and, if I am being honest, the lads let him down a lot by letting this happen. If we had won a couple of games during that run, things might have been very different.”

Ex-Pars coach Neil McCann has since taken over the reigns at Dens Park. Initially it was only as a caretaker boss until the summer, but, has since signed a permanent deal to remain as the Dark Blues gaffer.

“It was a strange one: Neil McCann came in, it was good as it brought a little bit of freshness to the squad. I think we won the next few games after the split, which secured our Premiership status, which was good. I was really positive, the way I had spoken to my family and my agent heading into this season, as I felt I had built up a half-decent relationship with him since he had come in. [Working under him] was something I was looking forward to, but, during pre-season I got a little vibe that he hadn’t taken to me as much as he had in the previous campaign. From my point of view, I buckled down and worked hard but, he had made a few signings in midfield for himself – such as Lewis Spence, who used to play with Dunfermline – and he just wanted to go with them, that was the direction he wanted to go at.

I came in and played against Aberdeen, albeit we got beat on the day, even though we should have won. Then we played Hibs the following week and got our first point of the season before playing Rangers the next weekend. I found myself in the stands: I had gone from starting to being out of the squad completely, so, it was a difficult one for me to take. I almost understood from there, what he wanted to do with myself, so, it was difficult but I just cracked on – I played in the Under-20 games as I knew I had to do it for myself, before, when the time came, to move on. It has been frustrating as, at times, the team hasn’t been playing well and getting the results they should be getting, so, on that flip side of it you feel you deserve a chance when the team isn’t winning and performing, so, when that happens you know it is time to move on.”

Come the January Transfer Window, Vincent signed on-loan for the Pars.

“There was a little bit of interest, from down south, but I wanted to come to Dunfermline. It is a massive club, it really is. It has a fantastic stadium and I had watched the team play a few times [prior to signing] so I know they play good football. Obviously, [dropping down into the Championship] is something you have to consider – I would rather be playing in the Premiership, as I feel it is something I am capable of doing week-in, week-out, but, this is Premiership club if we are being honest. Everything is fantastic about it: the environment, the fans, the management, the squad and it is something I wanted to be a part of. This is definitely bigger than Inverness and Dunfermline are probably on par with Dundee [in terms of facilities available]. I honestly believe this club is geared up for the Premiership, I honestly do. We just need a little bit of consistency to push up [the table].

Prior to my first game [against Livingston], I hadn’t played an Under-20’s match in about 8 weeks, so, it was just about getting back and playing football competitively as I hadn’t done that since September or October. It has been a difficult year for me, but, if my contribution can help the team and the squad push up the league then so be it. That is the aim, to get a bit consistency. We played Morton in my first game, although I didn’t play, and I felt we were the better team, even though I’ve seen the lads play better. We were up against a team who are also in and around the play-offs. Then in my debut against Livingston, they were sitting second or third at that time and we dominated the game from start to finish in my opinion and come the end, it was 2 points dropped on our behalf. If you are looking at those teams being in and around the play-offs, and you consider what we have got [quality-wise within the squad] then, yeah, I feel that [the play-offs] have to be the aim. Every game, we have got to approach it as “the most important” as this is coming up to the most important part of the season, crunch time, and every result is going to have an impact on where we are going to end up so we cannot take our foot off it, at all.”

After making his debut against Livi just a few weeks ago, Vincent hopes to make his home bow against the Lions before facing his former club, Inverness.

“I am looking forward to playing here. I came to watch the Dundee United game and there was a brilliant atmosphere and I can’t wait to play in it. As a midfielder, [scoring goals] is an area I can’t shy away from, especially the way I like to play. Up in Dundee, I have played more defensively if I am being honest. We had a lot of good attacking boys so we just let them get on with it while we sat in, so, my game has changed a little bit and I have had to tailor it slightly to how I played while at inverness. However, [since arriving at Dunfermline], I have been given a bit more licence to get forward, so, I would like to chip in with a couple of goals.”

James has played over 250 games during his career. At 28-years-old, Vincent has achieved a lot in his decade within the professional game, but, he feels he still has a lot to give, too.

“I am and I am not [happy with my career so far]. I feel I could have had more appearances – I have had a lot of niggles which could have been preventable or managed better, so, I am frustrated on that side of things, but, at the end of the day, like I said earlier, you can’t do much about that, you just have to get on with it and when I look back, overall, I am happy. I feel good, it is just about getting that sharpness back, getting that consistency back within my game – once I can find that, I feel as if I will really push on again. I am contracted [to Dundee] next season, but, I don’t know what the situation is there, at present. I haven’t had a conversation with them, but, right now, it is all about playing and enjoying my football again. I need to be in an environment where I feel I have a chance of playing; being here is refreshing and good. The manager wants me here, it is competitive as everyone wants to play and if you are playing well, you will play and if you aren’t someone else will take your place and that is how I like it, that is how it should be, you need that competition as a professional footballer. It is really good to be here.

I am fairly laid back in terms of my approach to things. If something came up down south, I would look at it, for me and for my family – such as my two kids – but, if something suitable came up in Scotland I would consider it also. I am very flexible: you just see what offers you get, weigh them up and see which one is best. I am going to give my all [while I am here]; I am going to work hard for the team and for the club, as is everyone else. Hopefully, if I can add a bit of experience, consistency and energy to the team, it can push us up as a club and as a squad together back into where we want to be, the play-offs.”

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