Mitch Megginson will be walking into familiar territory when he leads Cove Rangers out against Alloa Athletic.
The club captain, one of the SPFL’s most prolific goalscorers, had two spells at Alloa earlier in his career, the first one coming when he was brought to the Wasps by his current boss Paul Hartley.
That spell under Hartley came towards the end of his time as a professional at Aberdeen, with the second a permanent stay in 2016 where the club were relegated to League One.
“I had two spells there – one from Aberdeen when Hartley was manager, then the last time I joined for six months when Jack Ross was manager,” said Megginson. “Unfortunately we went down, but, in the time I was there, we drew with Rangers at Ibrox and beat Hibs at home.
“We had a decent team, but it was too late in the day to amass enough points to stay up. It’s a family-run club and they look after the players. I’ve got nothing but good things to say about the club and everyone there.”
Hartley was the man who took them to the Championship, taking his first managerial job there in 2011 and guiding them to back-to-back promotions before departing in 2014.
Megginson’s time with the club coincided with the Scottish Championship gaining an influx of new followers, by virtue of Rangers and Hibernian being in the second tier.
For part-time clubs like Alloa, that meant bumper home crowds when those clubs came to Recreation Park and an opportunity for the players to test themselves at some of the biggest grounds in the country.
“The season before I was at Dumbarton and we were lucky enough to have Hibs, Hearts and Rangers in there,” added Megginson. “It was very competitive and you were playing against top quality players in big stadiums, like Easter Road, Tynecastle and Ibrox.
“In the first spell I managed to get a few goals and the style of play wasn’t any different. He liked to get the ball down and play. They went on to get promotion to the Championship from the play-offs at the end of that season.
“Kevin Cawley was there in my first spell, Steven Hetherington was there the last time I was and Andy Graham was my skipper at Dumbarton, so I know him well. Scott Taggart was at Dumbarton as well, so there’ll be a few familiar faces on Saturday.”
— Cove Rangers FC (@CoveRangersFC) January 5, 2021
For Cove – second in League One – it presents an opportunity to test themselves against a club they could measure themselves against.
Alloa have repeatedly punched above their weight as a part-time team in a division mainly comprised of full-time outfits. Only they and Arbroath are part-time clubs, but have stayed up while full-time opponents like Raith Rovers and Falkirk have gone down.
The second round tie also gives Cove an opportunity to rekindle their affection for the Scottish Cup, having been knocked out of the competition early in the last two seasons by junior side Auchinleck Talbot.
“We’re just glad it’s not a trip to Auchinleck Talbot again, who seem to be our nemesis in this cup in the last couple of years,” said Megginson. “It’s a great one from the team and a chance to give a better showing than when we visited Alloa in the Betfred Cup a few years ago.
“It’s about time we try and go on a Scottish Cup run. We’ve not done it a couple of years, since we had Falkirk up at Inverurie.
“We’re hoping for that again, but you’ve got a very tough side to overcome first and we’ll probably have to play the best we have this season to get a win.”