Linlithgow Rose striker Colin Strickland is determined to “enjoy himself” as his team prepare for Saturday’s William Hill Scottish Cup last-16 clash away to Ross County.
The match truly encapsulates the romance of the Cup – a part-time club pitting their wits against a top-flight outfit, who have just put three goals past Ladbrokes Premiership champions Celtic at Hampden to book their place in the Scottish League Cup final.
Days like these don’t come around often for a Junior team, so it will be a day to cherish no matter the final outcome.
Not that Rose go into the fifth-round tie with an inferiorty complex. Far from it.
Strickland, 30, could never have expected to be taking on top-flight opponents at this stage of his career, having played in the Junior game since leaving St Johnstone as a youth.
For him, it’s all about going out and enjoying an occasion which will be the biggest of his career.
“We’re not expected to win the game, so it’s about going in and enjoying the day. Hopefully we can make a good account of ourselves and not let ourselves down,” said Strickland.
“The whole town and the supporters have backed us all the way from the start of the competition. We’ve travelled down to Gala, up to Clach, up to Wick twice and up to Forfar twice – everyone has got behind the club and it’s been great.
“For all the hard work and everything we’ve done, it’s great to get a reward and test ourselves against a Premiership side, who are fourth in the table and are in the League Cup final. It’s good to test yourselves at that level and we’ll see how we get on on the day. You never know. We’re realistic as well. I think it’s more about enjoying ourselves on the day and just trying to do as well as we can.”
Rose haven’t had it easy – to say the least – on their run to the fifth round. The trip to Dingwall will take their Cup mileage above the 2000 mark, the four preceding rounds having seen them travel all over Scotland with late call-offs, postponements, flares and smokebombs thrown in.
A match of this stature might faze a part-time club, who are used to playing in front of several hundred spectators. But Rose have battled against adversity to reach this stage.
“We’re not nervous going into the game at all,” contined Strickland, who is hoping to come up against an old school friend in County’s Scott Boyd. “The whole cup run has been fantastic. It’s all about looking forward to it because you don’t know how many more days you’ll get like this with the level we play at it.”