Haddington Athletic captain Chris Inglis believes an East of Scotland Cup tie against Super League leaders Bonnyrigg Rose can aid their bid for promotion to the top flight.
The Millfield Park men host high-flying Rose tomorrow in a third-round clash that is a distraction for Premier League side Haddington, who hold aspirations of securing a spot in the Super League before now and June.
Inglis reckons a match-up against David White’s Rose can give his team-mates a taster of what they could expect every week in the top flight, with Joe Hamill’s side currently second in the Premier League.
“It’s a great tie, it’s a free shot at them,” said the 32-year-old. “It’s at home and it’s good for the club to get a few more through the gate.
“It’s always good to play a Super League team and obviously Bonnyrigg are one of the big ones. All we can do is try our best.
“They’ll look at us and see we are doing well in the league. They probably won’t fancy coming down to us – I’m sure they’d prefer other ties.
“We’ll play our own game and see what happens. We’re not scared of them, we respect them, but it’s one of those ones where you don’t need to get yourself up for.
“I think we’d be silly to say we aren’t looking at promotion now, because we are. There are plenty of big games to play. Musselburgh are going to win the league at a canter I think, then you’ve got team fighting for second and third.
“Playing Bonnyrigg can give the boys a taste of what the Super League is like and think, ‘I’d prefer to get this every week’, to get that buzz with a big crowd. I’d like to think it will spur the boys on; personally I want to compete against the best.”
Inglis has already experienced life in the Super League himself, having briefly spent time with Penciuik Athletic after signing up in the summer of 2016 when former Hi-Hi boss Johnny Harvey made the move. The switch didn’t work out as planned for the midfielder, with Harvey unable to guarantee Inglis a starting berth every week, so he swiftly returned to Haddington.
He continued: “I went with Johnny for a few months. It never really worked out then I came back. I didn’t play as much as I wanted to play and it was a lot of travelling for me.
“He wasn’t wanting me to go, but I just wanted to play, it didn’t bother me that I was dropping back down.”
Haddington are unbeaten on home soil this season, so they will welcome the challenge posed by Rose, according to former Hearts midfielder and Millfield boss Hamill.
The 34-year-old was once on the books at New Dundas Park – his first Junior club after moving down the ladder from senior football – and he holds the club in high esteem.
Hamill said: “We’ve got a set of standards and we want to be playing Super League and playing against the best teams. Bonnyrigg are one of the best teams, so it’s one to look forward to. We’ve played them in a couple of friendlies recently and the games have always been very tight.
“Bonnyrigg are flying and we’re obviously in the league below. You could say we’re underdogs, but I wouldn’t say it’s outrageous. It’s a cup game and anything can happen.
“I’ve been to a few Junior clubs – Haddington, Bonnyrigg and Linlithgow – but if anyone was coming into the Juniors, Bonnyrigg and Haddington would be the two I’d tell them to go for. Both committees make you feel really welcome and both clubs have a great set-up. I’m really looking forward to it.”