Brora Rangers facing Kilmarnock in the Scottish Cup fifth round has had the same galvanising impact on the Sutherland village as two Highland League titles.
Manager Ross Tokely was part of the squad that won back-to-back championships in 2014 and 2015 and now from within the dugout, has seen Brora come alive again to back its team.
The village has just 1200 people but chairman William Powrie estimates that nearly a third of those will make the journey to Rugby Park today, for the biggest game in the Cattachs’ history.
The aftermath of their run has been felt in the village, with Tokely noticing an increase in support at their Highland League Cup tie with Inverurie Locos last weekend.
He said: “The media interest has been great and has had an impact on the profile of the club. Getting to the fifth round has brought in extra revenue and it’s got the village buzzing again. We got more people at the game last weekend and it was similar to when we won the league two years in a row. It’s influenced people to come back and support the team; we’ve got a lot of supporters’ buses going down.
“A lot of boys will have parents and family going and will want to do themselves justice. We’ve come through two games no-one thought we would and it makes me so proud.
“Everything has to come to an end some time but we’ll enjoy the day, put on a good performance and make it difficult for them. There’s obviously a gulf between the teams and I’m not going to say we’re going to win, but we’ll do our very best to represent the village, the club and the Highland League.”
Much has been made of Tokely’s past with Caley Thistle and their giant-killing exploits, with Thursday being the 18th anniversary of their 3-1 Scottish Cup win at Celtic Park.
Tokely was only 20 at the time and remembers little of the game but is able to dispense some of his wisdom, learned as a player, on to his current players.
He said: “The only way to describe it was unbelievable. We had a really good first division team at the time and I can’t be more proud of what I achieved as a player.
“But it’s not about me. Getting past two League 1 teams is a huge achievement and the boys have adapted to the underdog status, whereas in the Highland League we’re there to be shot at.
“Players seem to respond more when they’re underdogs, I certainly did. It’s about getting that into the players and getting an extra 10 or 20 per cent out of them. We need everyone playing out of their skin and Killie to have an off day. Hopefully the romance of the cup then takes us through.”