This could prove to be a week of destiny for so many clubs across the north of Scotland.
Title ambitions and cup dreams could be realised come next Sunday in what feels like an unprecedented scenario of potential success across the north.
At the top end of the scale, both Aberdeen and Caley Thistle are bidding to make their second Scottish Cup finals in the last five years. Inverness are first up on Saturday against Hearts at Hampden Park, with the Dons taking to the field on Sunday trying to finally vanquish Celtic.
For Caley Thistle, the opportunity to reach a Scottish Cup final, four years and a relegation after the greatest day in their history, would probably have taken them by surprise. Certainly at the start of the season, it would not have been expected within the Caledonian Stadium. But a kind draw in the early rounds, knocking out East Kilbride and Edinburgh City, and seeing off the Championship’s top two has deservedly earned them a crack at a major showpiece final again.
With the opposition being Hearts, John Robertson and Brad Mckay will have storylines aplenty as they look to end the cup hopes of their boyhood clubs.
The Dons have been over this ground before and know the score. They were beaten finalists against Celtic in 2017 and lost Hampden semi-finals in 2014 and 2018.
They face a Hoops side now under Neil Lennon rather than Brendan Rodgers and an improved record in Glasgow this season gives hope that this might finally be their year.
Ross County are in pole position to secure the Championship title and an immediate return to Scottish football’s top tier. They have been there or thereabouts all campaign and have fended off Ayr United and Dundee United’s challenge to make the top spot their own. Few can argue with the job Stuart Kettlewell and Steven Ferguson have done in establishing the Dingwall club as promotion favourites, in what is their first full season in management.
Peterhead’s Jim McInally is a seasoned pro in this game but do not take that to mean promotion would mean any less to him. They came agonisingly close last year, missing out automatically on the last day and then against Stenhousemuir in the play-offs. They retooled this year and like County, have faced prolonged competition from Edinburgh City and Clyde.
But with the title almost within their grasp, it would make McInally’s decision to remain at Balmoor last summer worthwhile if they finish the job.
Last, but certainly not least, Cove Rangers may well seal back-to-back Highland League titles and another crack at the pyramid play-offs. Brora have kept them company for much of the campaign but Cove are primed to finish top again.
All the best to all the north clubs in what could be a magical week.