When Stevie McLeish sat down with Musselburgh Athletic chairman Charlie McGlynn in his interview for the vacant management post in October, he knew a Scottish Junior Cup run was a priority, but he thought they would be lucky to still be in the cup come January.
Under McLeish, Burgh defied all the odds to book just their second ever cup final place on Saturday with a 5-4 aggregate defeat of Linlithgow Rose to set up a repeat of their first, against ten-times winners Auchinleck Talbot who edged them out after extra time in 2011.
The Olivebank club have been written off all the way on their run to the final which has seen them defeat Blackburn United, Luncarty, Rossvale, Fauldhouse United, Penicuik Athletic and Linlithgow to set up a date with the Ayrshire giants on Sunday, June 7 at Rugby Park, Kilmarnock.
McLeish, once boss of Haddington Athletic and a coach at Hibs and Cowdenbeath under Mixu Paatelainen, where he won the Scottish Third Division title in 2005/06, recognises the significance of what the club has achieved, but he insists the job isn’t done until they get their hands on trophy.
He said: “Charlie jokingly said to me in my interview ‘We are still in the Scottish’ and I said ‘Yeah but we’ve not played a game yet’ and he said that’s what I mean ‘We are still in the Scottish’, so when I seen him after the game on Saturday my first words to him were ‘We are still in the Scottish, Charlie,’ and he just had a wee laugh to himself.
“It’s one of them, when that’s said to you in October, that you say to yourself ‘We’ll be lucky to be in the Scottish come Christmas.’ You never expect that you’re going to get a far as we’ve got. I have to admit that the boys themselves have been so focused on this, it’s unbelievable.
“I can’t emphasise enough how big a result it is for Musselburgh to beat Linlithgow in the Scottish Cup semi-finals – it couldn’t have got any bigger than that for us.
“But, it’s not job done yet; we are in the final and it’s an achievement getting there and I get that, but for they guys in the dressing-room it isn’t enough and they know themselves that they want more. It’s going to be a hell of a task against a massive club, but you know what So are Linlithgow and we came through that. There’s nothing to say we can’t come through this one.
“Getting to the final is my biggest achievement as a manager or as a coach and I’m hoping we can surpass that by winning the cup.”
For now, Burgh’s attention turns towards other silverware as they take on Newtongrange Star at New Victoria Park in the East of Scotland Cup tomorrow evening, with a place in the quarter-finals at stake.