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Fraserburgh veteran Willie West thinks challenge of Saturday’s Kilmarnock clash only topped by Rangers meeting in 2018

Willie West.
Willie West.

Willie West thinks Premier Sports Cup opponents Kilmarnock will be the “toughest” of many Broch players’ careers.

The Highland League champions get their Group B matches – and their 2022/23 season – under way when they host last term’s Championship winners at Bellslea on Saturday.

Veteran West, 34, is a survivor from the Fraserburgh side who took on Rangers in the Scottish Cup in 2018 and – though he’s been in the Black and Whites first team for 19 years, racked up close to 600 appearances and won everything there is to win in north football – even he ranks Killie as the second-most daunting opposition he’s faced.

West said: “It’s probably the biggest game some of the players in our team will be involved in.

“To put the Rangers game to one side, competitively it’s probably the toughest game I’ll have ever faced. I can’t think of playing anyone above League One to be honest.

“We’ve obviously had pre-season friendlies and testimonials against Premiership clubs, but they’re always treated a little bit differently and usually they don’t have their full strength.

“It will be interesting to see how Kilmarnock treat it – whether they put out their strongest team or whether they field fringe players or younger players.

“To be honest, it doesn’t really matter, because I think whatever line-up they put out is going to be fit, they’re going to be strong, they’ll be good quality players and it’s going to be really difficult.”

Despite the challenge, Broch utility man West is looking forward to taking on the Ayrshire visitors’ big names, and also seeing the Fraserburgh supporters turn out en masse at a revamped Bellslea.

West said: “I’m quite interested to meet Derek McInnes and the big centre-half from Aberdeen, Ash Taylor, and (striker Kyle) Lafferty. It’s quite big names and they’re coming to the Bellslea.

“There’s been a lot of improvements made and there’s been a lot of great work behind the scenes – the new shelter and some of the upgrades. When we played against East End (in a friendly) last week, it actually gives it an even better feel.

“If it’s 1,800 fans on Saturday, the buzz will be even better.”

Success for Broch is showing they can ‘compete’ with top-flight side

Despite being in the twilight of his career, West says he feels great, despite only having five weeks off after Fraserburgh’s title success and subsequent unsuccessful pyramid play-off bid.

The home side will be missing other key players this weekend and boss Mark Cowie made clear when the draw for the League Cup was made they would be prioritising the Highland League opener against Deveronale on July 23.

So, the pressure is off for their four cup group games, and most of all against Premiership new boys Killie.

West said: “It would’ve been extremely difficult with a full-strength team.

“What do we hope to get out it? I guess we hope to get 90 minutes runabout as a good fitness drill.

“But are we expecting to get a draw or win? No, there’s no expectation or pressure on us to get a result.

“But we definitely want to give a good account of ourselves and show we can compete for large parts of the game.

“Kilmarnock will be really difficult to contain for 90 minutes. I wouldn’t want to say we want to keep the score down, but we want to keep it as competitive as possible and make it difficult for them.”

Fraserburgh’s Willie West in action against Rangers’ Jason Holt and David Bates in 2018.

West knows, for Fraserburgh to do anything other than make life hard for their four SPFL opponents over the next couple of weeks – with Montrose, Stenhousemuir and Partick Thistle to come – things have to fall their way.

The old-stager, who has been impressed during pre-season by the contributions of younger Broch players like Ryan Sargent, Logan Watt and Kieran Simpson, as well as Zane Laird, Connor Grant and Jamie MacLennan, added: “In all four games it’s going to really difficult to get a point, never mind a win.

“We played Montrose in the Scottish Cup a couple of years ago and probably couldn’t have done anymore, but we got beat 4-2.

“In these games you need a bit of luck and probably a referee’s decision to go your way.

“And the players need to give eight out of 10s across the board and stuff to get a result.

“It’s difficult, but, at the same time, not impossible. We’re definitely capable of getting a result against some of the teams, but we just need a few things to line up together.”