Spartans’ Craig Stevenson spent his younger days looking on from the stands at Ibrox as Barry Ferguson dictated matches for Rangers from central midfield. Tomorrow, the former Rangers captain will be the one on the sidelines as Stevenson lines up against Ferguson’s Clyde side as they visit Ainslie Park in the William Hill Scottish Cup third round.
Stevenson revealed he’s eagerly anticipating taking on a team under the charge of one of his boyhood idols.
“He was one of my heroes growing up” he admitted. “I’m looking forward to playing against his team. I was hoping he’d play, but it doesn’t look like he’s going to pick himself.
“I used to go and watch Rangers a lot and he was captain at the time. He played in my position so was one of my heroes and I kind of idolised him. I’m sure his team will play ‘the Barry Ferguson way’ – they’ll try to be winners and they’ll work hard, which is how he was as a player.”
Ferguson, pictured, was more familiar with the business end of the Scottish Cup as a player, lifting the famous old trophy five times with the Govan club between 1999 and 2009. It’s the 2002 final that Stevenson remembers as a young fan, the current Clyde manager scoring then laying on the winner in a 3-2 win over Celtic. “The one I remember is when he scored a free-kick to equalise and then set up the winner for Lovenkrands in the last minute to win it 3-2, so that was a special one.”
Despite the regard he holds tomorrow’s opposing manager in, the midfielder is completely focused on causing an upset and believes Dougie Samuel’s men have what it takes to book a place in Monday’s fourth round draw.
“I think Spartans are probably the biggest non-league team. Maybe some league teams think non-league football isn’t very good, but I think Clyde might get a shock if they travel on Saturday and think it’s going to be easy and they’ll run over us. Hopefully we can put on a good show.
“The gaffer watched Clyde last Saturday and said they played well for the first hour and got the ball down and tried to pass it about and that the two strikers were good so we’ll have to keep an eye on them. We’re on a bit of form though – ten games unbeaten, so if we play our own game and don’t worry about them too much then we’ve got a good chance.”
The former Lothian Thistle Hutchie Vale man made the step up to Lowland League football in the summer and “Grinchy” is pleased with how he’s handled the transition:
“I’m quite surprised that I’ve started every game except from last Saturday when I was rested – well, hopefully rested! The gaffer said that was the case so hopefully I’ll be back in on Saturday. He’s been happy with my performances and I’ve been happy with them myself so I just want to keep that going.”
While the north Edinburgh outfit are keen to retain their Lowland League title with the carrot of a promotion play-off, Stevenson admitted the Scottish Cup still holds a certain draw. “This is my first time playing in the Scottish Cup. To play a league team with Spartans is a big thing for the club. We’ve had a good week’s training and hopefully we can win tomorrow and get into the next round with the big guns.”