Having already been part of one of the biggest shocks in Scottish Cup history, Spartans’ Eddie Malone is hoping to add another upset to his CV when they travel to Berwick Rangers in tonight’s fifth round replay.
alone hit the winner for Clyde when they famously dumped Celtic out in the third round back in January 2006.
While from a personal point of view, that game remains the biggest Malone has been involved in, he believes tonight’s tie is bigger in terms of what a win would mean for both clubs.
“I think the Celtic game was a one-off and probably bigger as Roy Keane was making his debut” he said. “For the club, it would be the first time a non-league side will have reached the last eight for about 50 years so in that sense it’s massive – especially getting Hibs in the next round. It’s probably the biggest game in the club’s history.”
Aside from pulling off another historic cup victory, Malone has another, more personal motivation to progress to the quarter-finals tonight, given the opposition that awaits.
“I’m a Hibbie – so if we get through I’ll not be trying!” he joked. “Seriously though it would be big for both clubs being on Sky as well – they don’t get the biggest revenues. I think it would be about £80k between the two teams so for us and Berwick that’s massive. The draw as well as the Sky money has given both clubs an extra incentive, plus probably a big gate at Easter Road. It’s made this game a bit bigger and a bit more interesting.”
The former Dundee defender only signed for Spartans last month after two appearances as a trialist and admitted he previously feared his career may have been over, far less contemplating a potential Scottish Cup quarter-final against his boyhood team. “I’m just happy to be back playing. I tore the cartilage in my knee ten months ago so I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to play again.
“I was at Stenhousemuir with Errol Douglas last season and he asked what I was doing and said I should come in. The club is ambitious and trying to get into the league and I wanted to be part of that.
“I spoke to Dougie Samuel after I came back from America and he asked me in to see how I got on with the facilities and things. I managed to do a sort of six week mini pre-season and came through it fine. Just to get back playing was a bonus – I never thought I’d have the opportunity to win a game to get to play at Easter Road.”
The Ainslie Park side will need a better performance – and more luck – than was evident during Saturday’s 2-0 home loss to Vale of Leithen. Keeper Kevin Swain was forced off with an eye injury and with no substitute goalkeeper available, midfielder John Grant donned the gloves. While Malone felt his team-mate coped well, he does hope Swain will be back between the sticks tonight.
“John was brilliant I thought – he was like Neuer sweeping up at the back! He was fine but I’m hoping Swainey pulls through – he said two or three days with his eye,” said Malone,
One thing Spartans won’t lack is backing at Shielfield, and Malone hopes they can send the Spartan Army home happy. “I think there’s about 800 going down,” he said. “Not many teams in Scotland can do that, especially when there’s Champions League on too. Hopefully we can do the business for them.”