The people of small Scottish town Kirkcaldy had been buzzing for weeks. The town’s pubs had done record sales of whiskey and Tennent’s on a daily basis and the concept of a hangover had been forgotten, with people drinking through the mornings and the bars never closing.
This was because little Raith Rovers had confirmed their monumental rise through Scottish football and won the Scottish Premiership to become the first non-Old Firm Scottish champions in 42 years in the 2026/27 campaign.
English manager Robí di Lathamé had celebrated his new-found Legend status at the club by partying hard with the folk of Fife, bringing retiring Raphael Varane along for the ride. But, with the majority of the partying behind him, he eventually sat down with absolutely elated club chairman Robbie McGinn to discuss the season just gone and future plans.
Raith key players
Raith’s success this season was very much a team effort. No player scored more than 10 goals in all competitions and none got more than 13 assists. Furthermore, our top scorer of the season Ryan Cassidy was forced back to his parent club when he broke his leg in January, when he had 11 goals in 27 games.
Indeed, the top two scorers who finished the campaign at the club were Liverpool loanee midfielder Colin Rebello and centre-back Willie Binnie, who scored nine penalties. Midfielder Callum Wigley scored seven goals before a three-month injury layoff, along with striker Philip Cohen, who only scored 7 in 28 and is not good enough for the Premiership. Winger Mark Frost scored six, midfielder Glen Cranston, winger Niall Quinn and midfielder and captain Dylan Tait all scored four.
Cranston led the way with 13 assists, followed by Tait with eight, winger Oliver Higgins with seven, Wigley with five and young winger Steve Jung with four. Cranston also had our best average rating of 7.28 from 43 games, followed by Wigley on 7.19 from 33 games.
But next up was a man that truly transformed our season, centre-back Raphael Varane. He scored twice and created a vital goal against Hearts while racking up an impressive rating of 7.11 in his 15 games for the club. Varane won 33 competitions in his career, including 5 Champioins Leagues, 2 World Cups, a European Championship and four La Ligas, but concluded his career by lifting the Scottish title. What a massive signing he has been, what a legend he is, and we wish him well in his retirement.
A key fact that I’m really proud of is that Varane is one of only two players over the age of 25, the other of which is Tait. 13 of our 22 man squad are 21 or under and seven are teenagers.
Three Raith players made it into the Scottish Premiership team of the year, with Alex Simpson, academy product Binnie and Cranston making the list. Other than that, there was nothing to write home about!
Premiership team stats
This year’s team stats highlights the importance of a rock solid defence. We conceded just 25 times in 18 matches. We also conceded just four goals from corners, two from indirect free-kicks, none from direct free-kicks, and gave away just two penalties, one of which Alex Simpson saved.
Underpinning this was a ruthless – or dirty – streak. We got 103 yellow cards, which was 14 more than anyone else, seven red cards and made 576 fould, which was 85 more than any other team.
Our tally of 67 goals was the third-best in the league but 19 less than Celtic. We only created 95 chances, which was the seventh-best in the league, but did get a league-high 51% of our shots on target, getting 329 shots on target. And we had a league-high conversion rate of 10% and completed the most dribbles per game of 18.
We scored a league-high eight goals from indirect free-kicks, two from direct free-kicks and eight from corners, which was only bettered by Ross County. We also won ten penalties, of which Binnie converted nine, only bettered by Celtic’s 14.
We also won the league with just the sixth-highest budget of £4.81 million per annum and a net spend of just £561,000 – of which the only significant spend was the £875,000 we put into Varane.
Premiership player stats
Binnie, a centre-back, finished as the 11th top scorer in the league with 10 goals, with Cassidy one behind him with nine goals. And Cranston fot the third-most assists with 10. Cranston also got the fifth-most key passes with 83, with Tait in joint-eight on 74.
Binnie won the fourth-most headers (237) and third-most interceptions (145) in addition to his goalscoring prowess.
Tait covered the second-most ground in the league with 289.87 miles in 37 games. While first-choice wingers Quinn and Frost covered the third- and fourth-most ground per 90 minutes, with 8.24 and 8.23 miles per game. The duo also completed the most dribbles per hame, with Quinn on 6.34 and Frost on 6.10.
Discipline wise, we are bossing the league with four of the five-most bookings amassed! Willis led the way with 14 yellow cards, followed by Rebello with 12 and Quinn and Frost with 11.
I’ve begun spending some of the limited finances available on snapping up young talent from England and further abroad. And hopefully our title win will bring in more finances and increase our reputation to attract better players. I’ve managed to smash through another season for a final full blog, then we’ll do a final blog to push into the future with Raith before FM21 comes around.
Thank you very much to anyone and everyone who has read this blog and all the other content I’ve created for FM20. And here’s to more in FM21!