Bonnyrigg Rose lap up their historic day in the sun as SPFL football dream comes alive
Although Premiership outfit Hibs had visited New Dundas Park in a mouth-watering Premier Sports Cup duty a fortnight ago, the anticipation ahead of Gary Irvine's Forfar Athletic checking into town was in another stratosphere.
It has been a long four years since club's board elected to bring down the curtain on their hugely successful tenure as a Junior outfit in pursuit of one day reaching the SPFL.
Fast forward 48 months, a short but sweet stay in the East of Scotland League, two Covid-truncated campaigns and, a Lowland League championship later, the big day had duly arrived. The committee members greeting supporters looked the part, there was near enough 1,100 in attendance, the sun was out and, to top it all off, their first three points in Scottish football's fourth tier.
Yes, Bonnyrigg Rose are going to fit in just fine in their new surroundings.
Second-half goals from Kevin Smith - visiting goalkeeper Marc McCallum must take his share of the blame for allowing the ball to squirm through his legs for the opener - and a superb strike from Scott Gray into the top corner, rounded off the perfect afternoon for the Rosey Posey.
Manager Robbie Horn, now in his second spell with the club, was bursting with pride at full-time and rightly so. In truth, he struggled to hold back the tears which was wonderful to see.
"Yesterday was a really special day for the football club with the journey we've been on," he told the Evening News. "To find ourselves in the position we are being in League Two, it was just so important that, for me, we got the win. The supporters turned out in their numbers again with the backing they have given the club with season tickets. It was massive for us to get all three points.
"It was a fantastic occasion for the club. I'm delighted for the committee members and the board as they've put so much into this and they've been with us from the very start. I hope this is just the beginning of something special."
Horn feels his players more than merited the three points against a Loons side that fell just short in their quest for promotion to League One in May.
He added: "We were a bit fortunate with the first goal but over the piece I thought we deserved it. I think a lot of the games this year will be similar to this one as I don't think there is a lot between the teams. You've got to concentrate and do your job for the full 90 minutes so I couldn't have asked for much more against a side who finished second in the league last year and were beaten in the play-offs, so this was a really good test for us.
"We'll have Keiran McGachie back next week, Lee Currie is returning to fitness as well so we've got a really strong squad. A lot of guys will be disappointed they never started yesterday, but everyone is going to have to play their part over the course of the season. I'm happy with the bodies we've got. If we all stick together and show the same spirit, we have done in previous seasons then who knows? We're certainly aiming for the play-offs."