If Raith Rovers require an experienced head on derby day, they need look no further than Christophe Berra.
The 36-year-old is a veteran of countless ferocious rivalries during his career, tasting the honeyed highs and bitter lows these fixtures can bring.
Berra lined up against old Edinburgh foes Hibernian on 21 occasions, notching three goals for Hearts and emerging on the losing side just five times.
He was less fortunate at Ipswich, where he failed to win any of his seven Anglian encounters against Norwich — and was dismissed in one Championship playoff defeat in 2015.
Berra also lapped up the fiery Black Country showdown against West Brom during his successful four-year stint at Wolves.
And while Friday night’s date with Dunfermline may lack the grandeur of some of his previous assignments, Berra still has the same excitement — and knows how much it means to residents of Kirkcaldy.
“I still get the same buzz as I always have for derby games,” said Berra. “There’s an edge and a tension to the game, being against our rivals, and you’ve got to enjoy that.
“We know how keen they [Dunfermline] will be to come here and get a result, and know what a win would mean to our fans.
“But if we put in a performance like we did on Sunday — showing the grit, determination and organisation, while adding some of the football we can play — then it’s a really good recipe to win football matches.”
And Berra has called on more of the same from the Rovers faithful after lapping up the raucous reception John McGlynn’s heroes received at Stark’s Park following their Premier Sports Cup victory over Aberdeen.
“Players and fans have probably had a similar feeling of envy, watching BT Sport and Sky Sports and seeing huge crowds back in stadiums down south,” continued Berra.
“So, it was brilliant to have that support and noise here in on Sunday and the atmosphere makes a huge difference.
🔵 @RaithRovers have turned this cup clash around in the second half!
— Premier Sports (@PremierSportsTV) August 15, 2021
“That’s what you play football for — that reaction from the crowd. Sometimes it isn’t great when you’re not doing well, but that’s part of it too! That’s football and it isn’t the same behind closed doors.
“When things are going well and a stadium is jumping, you can’t beat it.”
Stark’s will certainly be jumping if Rovers can replicate their performance against the Dons.
Berra is adamant that diligent, gutsy display proved that Raith had learned lessons from letting a four-goal lead slip against Hamilton in the Championship earlier this season.
“In past games, we’ve maybe been poor at stopping crosses — and that’s not just about the full-backs, it’s a team thing — but we were terrific on Sunday,” added Berra.
“The partnerships all over the pitch were great. Crosses were blocked; we won headers; the midfielders won second balls.
“It’s a chain reaction and, when every part of the team is functioning like that, you get big results. Now, we want another.”