Kyle JACOBS appreciates what a win in tomorrow’s Petrofac Training Cup final against Alloa Athletic at McDiarmid Park (kick-off 4.05pm) would mean to Livingston and their supporters.
The midfielder was one of the 9000 supporters who roared Livi on to CIS Cup glory at Hampden in 2004, a 2-0 victory over a much-fancied Hibs outfit that had defeated both halves of the Old Firm en route to the final.
Second-half goals by Derek Lilley and Jamie McAllister helped the Lions to the greatest achievement in their short existence. Jacobs was just 12 that afternoon but admits he has had Livingston in his blood ever since he relocated to West Lothian with his family from South Africa just before the turn of the Millennium.
“I’ve lived here since moving over from South Africa when I was seven so I’ve grown up supporting the club,” Jacobs, now 23, explained. “I went to the games when I was younger before joining at 15 so I’ve grown up around the club as well. I remember being there in 2004 with my brothers and my dad when we won the cup but I don’t think I quite grasped it at the time just how important it was for Livingston as I was still really young.
“But looking back on it now and seeing those guys’ photos all around the club, it just shows what it meant to everyone.
“It was a massive achievement and listening to the likes of Burton O’Brien, who’s still here and played in that side, it’s great to hear.”
A £5,000 fine and player registration ban imposed by the Scottish Football Association on Wednesday as punishment for majority shareholder Neil Rankine’s dual interest in both Livi and East Fife have deflected some of the attention away from tomorrow’s showdown.
Jacobs himself was on the fringes of the first team when the club went into administration for a second time six years ago and has, like his current team-mates, had off-field issues – including a five-point penalty following non-payment of tax – to contend with this season.
“It’s been a while since we won anything so it’s a great opportunity for everyone in the squad tomorrow and hopefully it can brighten up our season,” he said.
“There has been a lot of things happening off the pitch but we just need to concentrate on what we do as footballers. It’s a chance to give us a big lift and kick us on for the rest of the season.
“I think it has been easier for the boys that have been here longer because we went into administration a few years back. When we were then taken over, we dropped down to the Third Division but we always knew we could get back up.”
He continued: “We’ve had some good results in this competition this year, beating Hearts back in August, so it’s been good to focus on the cup this week. It hasn’t been a great season, so winning a cup would be a huge boost for us, the club and the fans.”
Jacobs has been Livi’s utility man this season having been deployed in both wing-back positions as well as being used as a central and right-sided midfielder. However, after missing a glaring opportunity during the first half of last weekend’s 2-2 league encounter with Alloa, the player admits his conversion rate in front of goal is an aspect of his game he is desperate to improve on.
“I could score more goals from where I am playing but because of how we’ve played this season, we lose as a team and win as a team,” he said. “I try and help the team as much as I can whether that be playing different positions, but I do want to chip in with more goals as I’ve only managed one this season.
“I thought we were the better side over the 90 minutes last week. We never gave up and showed great spirit to come back from being one down and then again at 2-1. But that’s the way our season’s gone so we’ll be looking to make it a more comfortable win tomorrow.”
Jacobs firmly believes success over the Wasps at McDiarmid Park will provide the impetus to avoid relegation from the Championship at the expense of either tomorrow’s opponents or Cowdenbeath.
“I think it will,” he admitted. “With Alloa just being above us, I think winning the cup would put a downer on them which could really help us.
“Winning anything is a great achievement for any player but with the season we’ve had it would be a real success. But staying up would be a bigger achievement.”