Another year, another challenge to rise to.
Cove Rangers’ recent history is one of consistent success and confronting the obstacle in front of them. This year, they hope, is no different.
They will compete in League One, the third tier of Scottish football, for the first time after finishing top of League Two when the 2019-20 season was called in March.
Back-to-back titles and promotions sets a benchmark. The thirst for winning is an obvious trait.
Those around the club have been quick to dampen expectations for this season, given they have not played at this level before. For the first time, they will be in a league with full-time teams, as Partick Thistle, Falkirk and Airdrieonians will all pit themselves against the Aberdeen outfit.
Ambition, though, is something they have never hidden.
“The first stage is survival,” said captain Mitch Megginson. “We’ve never been a team that gets ahead of ourselves. We’re just making our first step up and the first aim is to stay up.
“I have seen with Alloa and Dumbarton, part-time teams that have beaten full-time teams in this league. It’s not always a certainty that full-time teams finish in top spot.
“There’s a lot of cracking teams on their day and it’s going to be a very tough league. We said that last year and this is even more so. If you’re not on it, you’re going to get punished.”
Their rise has certainly not gone unnoticed and they will get a national audience for the first time at the Balmoral Stadium.
On October 10, their opening game of the Betfred Cup, Cove will entertain Jack Ross’ in-form Hibernian on home soil live on Premier Sports.
It marks another historical check-mark for the club, with it being their first televised home game. The only other game they have had on TV was the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Cup tie away to Connah’s Quay Nomads last season, which was screened on Welsh channel S4C.
Megginson said: “There’s certainly games you’re hoping for and we weren’t aware we would be getting on TV. But to start off with a home game against a huge club like Hibs and for it to be live, is excellent for the club.
“It’s another bit of history we can tick off. It gives a chance for the fans, who have not seen us for so long, to watch it on Premier Sports. They’ll get an idea on how we’re shaping up.”
Cove returned to training last week after more than five months off. It allowed staff at the club to put protocols and measures in place at the Balmoral Stadium to facilitate a safe return for the first-team squad.
Megginson added: “We were meant to be training the week prior to this and I got a call from the gaffer saying it was delayed. You just know what’s coming – more running and even harder work. That’s the way we operate. We need to be at an even better standard than last year and they (the staff) will get us into a physical standard ready for the start.
“It was good to be back kicking a ball again. At Cove, everything is done at a high standard and fair play to the physio, Donal Gallagher, and our Covid officer Bill Ogilvie. There’s a one-way system and safety measures in place.
“You’re on to the training pitch – we’re not allowed in the changing rooms – and then breaking into groups and starting from there. That’s when you forget about before, getting a touch of the ball again with distancing measures in place.”