Stevie Crawford has backed new signing Kevin O’Hara to win over any Dunfermline fans still angry about his abuse of Dean Shiels three years ago.
O’Hara, playing for rivals Falkirk at the time, taunted the ex-Rangers and Hibs midfielder over his missing eye during a derby match.
The striker, who apologised after the game, was subsequently banned for eight games and left the Bairns last summer with his career threatening to peter out.
But, after recovering his goal-scoring spark with Alloa in 2019/20, the 21-year-old last week signed a three-year deal with Dunfermline.
And Crawford is convinced the youngster will prove he has matured since the regrettable encounter.
He said: “I know that there was an incident that was well publicised before my spell here as manager.
“Kevin held up his hands, we do make mistakes in life and you can get caught up in things.
“He was a young boy at the time and it probably didn’t help that it was against one of our rivals – that brings more attention to it as well.
“We have done our homework on these [new] players and it will not take Kevin long to let the Dunfermline fans see what it means to him and his football. He has held up his hands and he will go again.
Kevin O'Hara is the next man to join #DAFC, on a 3 year deal, after a mutually agreed compensation arrangement with Alloa.
— Dunfermline Athletic (@officialdafc) July 10, 2020
“His work ethic was one of the attractions of trying to bring him to the club and I think that we will see a good side of Kevin moving forward.”
Crawford worked with O’Hara at Falkirk when the promising marksman was still at school and before he made his first-team debut aged just 16.
The Pars boss reckons the ‘bond’ they formed in those early days working in the Bairns U/20s helped him fight off competition for his signature this summer.
He added: “He was on the bench [for the U/20s] and we looked after him, and if they were coming up against big senior players you obviously had to watch the physicality side.
“When you get bonds with players they know that you are real and you have the best intentions in trying to help them become not just a better person but also a better football player.
“You go on seven or eight years down the line and that bond is maybe something that has allowed us to get this one over the line.”