The mind games have been going on non-stop in the Gray household this week as two brothers prepare to do battle in the “War of the Roses”.
Ross and Scott Gray come face-to-face at Prestonfield tomorrow when Linlithgow host Bonnyrigg in the Super League ahead of a two-week festive shutdown.
Younger sibling Scott, who helped Bonnyrigg set up a dream William Hill Scottish Cup date with holders Hibs next month in a recent third-round replay win over Dumbarton, has so far refused to confirm whether he’ll be giving brother Ross a lift through to the match.
The 22-year-old said: “He’s trying to hitch a ride from me but I’m not sure if I’m going to take him yet. They are through in Glasgow after the game for their night out and I’m coming back home then we’re going to Newcastle for ours. He’s an opposition player for the day, so I’m not sure if I’m going to take him.”
With Linlithgow all but out of the title race – they are 29 points behind league leaders Kelty Hearts, albeit they have four games in hand, champions Bonnyrigg are still in the mix.
So it would be wise for Scott to keep his brother on side until kick-off at least, although former Berwick Rangers midfielder Ross, who played under Rose boss Robbie Horn when he was assistant to Colin Cameron at Shielfield Park, has vowed to put family and former team-mate ties aside.
Ross said: “I worked with Robbie at Berwick and there’s a couple of my old team-mates at Bonnyrigg, so it would be hard to go and do that to them [dent a blow to their title hopes], but we want to go and win the game and we need to care about ourselves.”
The Linlithgow midfield man combines part-time football with his own soccer academy which he set up with former Berwick team-mate David Gold in August. The duo offer one-to-one and group sessions with kids from the ages of 4-14 and things are going from strength to strength.
Ross, 24, who came through the Livingston youth ranks playing alongside Marc McNulty and Stefan Scougall, has got younger brother Scott on board too, but he has vowed to cut his hours if he causes him any trouble on the pitch tomorrow.
He said: “We’ve played against each other two or three times when I was at Livingston and he was at St Johnstone – I think I’ve still got stud marks up the side of my leg from the last time we played each other! We’ve hammered him every time so he’ll be looking to get one over me this time. But, if he starts any of his nonsense I’ll be cutting his hours short!
“I’m moving out in June, so we’re still both in the house at the minute. We’re trying to keep our cards close to our chest, I’ve dropped in a couple of questions about training and what they’ve been doing this week but he’s not giving anything away.
“We’re really competitive in the house and me being the big brother, I can wind him up so easily and I enjoy it. I’ll be looking to do the same tomorrow if he plays.”
Scott maintains he scored a hat-trick when they first played against each other six years ago – a bone of contention in the Gray family home in the build-up to tomorrow’s match.
Scott said: “We’ve been giving each other it tight and that’s when all the chat about previous games has been coming up. I’ve been rubbing the hat-trick in his face, but my mum and dad try and stay out of it.
“I’m sure we’ll not hang back in giving each other a wee dunt, it’s happened a couple of times in previous games.”
Tomorrow’s encounter is just Bonnyrigg’s fourth league match since September due to their exertions in the Scottish Cup and Junior Cup. Rose have five games in hand on an unbeaten Kelty side, but given the Fifers 19-point lead at the top of the table, Horn’s men can’t afford to slip up.
Scott added: “It’s tough when you see Kelty scoring a good few last minute goals, that’s what we done last year to them. All we can do is win the games that we play in.
“If we’re not playing league games often we need to win them when we can. If we don’t win the games that are ahead of us, then we’re going to fall even further behind. We need to get maximum points from our league games to stay in touch with Kelty.”