Linlithgow Rose boss David McGlynn says he has been overwhelmed by messages of congratulations from all over Scottish football since the Prestonfield club became the first Junior side to reach the last 16 of the William Hill Scottish Cup.
A tie with Premiership outfit Ross County in Dingwall on February 6 is their reward after a heroic extra-time victory in their fourth-round replay with League One side Forfar Athletic on Tuesday night – emergency winger Kevin Kelbie putting the West Lothian club’s name up in lights with the winning goal after a pulsating 120 minutes of action.
It’s been a fairytale run for part-time Rose, who have had to battle against adversity in reaching the fifth round. They have travelled almost 1800 miles on the road, enduring trips to the Borders, Inverness, Wick and Forfar including a last-minute call-off and an abandoned match, while they’ve had to list injured players on the bench just to meet SFA rules.
Rose took Forfar to a replay after they came from 3-1 behind with ten men to salvage a dramatic 3-3 draw and they matched that drama late on Tuesday with Kelbie’s strike as the tie looked set to be decided on penalties.
Former Hearts Under-17s coach McGlynn, who was back working yesterday morning as a parcel delivery driver for Hermes in North Berwick, had to do without three players through suspension and captain Mark Tyrrell, who was unable to get his shift covered at sausage firm Devro in Lanarkshire as he named just 12 fit outfield players in his squad.
Injured Roddy MacLennan and Alex King were listed on the bench alongside youngster Michael Jones while Joe Hamill was drafted in having not played since September due to work commitments. Midfielder Blair Batchelor was asked to do a job at right-back with Gary Thom suspended and Tyrrell unavailable while strikers Conor Kelly and Kelbie were deployed out wide.
“Going back down the road on the bus you could just see how it meant to all the committee boys. They’ve put a great amount of effort in. It’s wonderful for them and I could see how overwhelmed they were,” said McGlynn, who became Rose boss in June. “It’s a fantastic achievement for the football club and brilliant to be part of after the start we had.
“I came into the job at a very, very difficult and negative time for the club. We were tipped for this and tipped for that – to be not very good and we got a lot of criticism. To be going up to Forfar with 12 men and producing a performance like that was just fantastic.
“My phone has been going non-stop, it’s been good. Not just from friends, I’ve been getting phone calls and texts from other managers – it’s been overwhelming to be honest with you. Linlithgow are a very big club and they are a credit to the Junior game to go and do that and be the first club to do it (make the last 16). We can look forward to Ross County now but Irvine Meadow in the Junior Cup on Saturday is more important than that.”
Ross County boss Jim McIntyre and his assistant Billy Dodds were in attendance at Station Park on Tuesday night to run the rule over their fifth-round opponents, but they departed before the end of 90 minutes with a winner yet to be known. McGlynn will conduct a spying mission of his own this Sunday when Highland outfit County take on Celtic at Hampden Park in the semi-final of the Scottish League Cup.
“I’ll need to go and get my reports done on Ross County, being in the job you need to go and do that,” he said. “I’ll also get reports from Gary Locke because I know Gary well and probably Robbie [Neilson], so hopefully we can get some information on them.”
Rose are set for a cash windfall as a result of reaching the fifth round. They’ll bank a £12,000 boost for reaching the last 16 of the competition while they will also get a share of television revenue which is spread out across the remaining clubs in the cup. They will receive a 50 per-cent split of the gate receipts from the match at the Global Energy Stadium after the SFA take their five per cent share.