AS ARBROATH prepare to square up to SPL behemoths Rangers on Sunday, our reporters took a moment to check in with a couple of the plucky Lichties.
the Lichties are in a better situation than the last time they faced Rangers. Fresh from a promotion victory, and currently second in the league, they are riding high.
The Ibrox men on the other hand have been in better shape, and any hope of intimidating the Maroons will be wasted as several of the players have faced Rangers before.
Gavin Swankie is one, having first faced Rangers nine years ago when he came on as a sub at Gayfield during their last cup clash.
He said: “I did get on for the last 15 minutes or so of that game. I can’t really remember too much about it. Someone texted me about that today actually and reminded me it was from the 77th minute.”
Asked if he was nervous about this vital match, Gavin said: “I’m more excited about it than anything, everyone is just excited to be involved.
“I’ve played them a good few times now from being in the SPL.”
Gavin added he was used to high pressure games, and a full-to-capacity Gayfield holds no fear: “I played at Celtic Park in the second game of the season in front of 60,000 people when it was Tony Mowbray’s first game in charge.”
Gavin is not the only SPL old-hand, he added: “And there will be a few more, the likes of Kerrso [Brian Kerr, formerly of Newcastle, Motherwell and Hibs] and other boys so we’ll just take it our chances.”
Asked if he had any qualms about facing his boyhood heroes, Gavin was adamant Rangers would get the same treatment as everyone else.
He said: “Yes, I was a Rangers fan as a lad, but I’ll stop thinking about that about half an hour before the game, when we’re warming up.”
We managed to coax a cautious prediction out of him: “If we can hold out early doors, keep it quite tight and make it a draw, anything could happen.”
l FEW OF the Arbroath players will be able to say they have already scored against Sunday’s Scottish Cup opponents Rangers.
But for Kieran McAnespie he will be going for his second goal against the reigning SPL champions in the fixture.
As a youngster in the St Johnstone team, the 32-year-old came against the Ibrox men on many occasions and even netted against them in the 1998/99 season.
And on Sunday, McAnespie will be hoping for more success against the Gers when the Lichties welcome them to Gayfield.
He said: “When I was a young pup I crossed paths with Rangers quite a few times with some successes.
“I was fortunate to play in these games and even scored against them in the 98/99 SPL season.
“It was a good time at St Johnstone then as we qualified for Europe after having a really good season and took quite a few points off the Old Firm.
“So I’m very much looking forward to coming up against them again and it is going to be massive for the club.”
But the Rangers side that will line up at Gayfield on Sunday will be very different to the one that McAnespie faced 13 years ago.
However, he believes that the Lichties could still pull off a cup giant-killing as they have the right mix of youth and experience to overcome the Glasgow side.
He added: “When you watch Rangers now the team is hugely different and there is a big gap from their squad of 12 years ago as the money is just not in the game anymore.
“Back then you had the likes of Klos, de Boer and Van Bronckhorst who were all household names.
“They don’t have that as much now, although the likes of Bocanegra and Jelavic are quite well known.
“But it is going to be a great day for the younger boys in our team like Josh [Falkingham] and Swanks [Gavin Swankie] as being on TV gives them a chance to showcase themselves.
“Then we have players who have played at a good level like Malky [Stuart Macolm] Kerrso [Brian Kerr] and the gaffer, who are like the daddy figures.
“And as we are live across the country it gives us the chance to really show what we can do.
“I think we will be able to hold our own and who knows we might be able to nick something.”
If Arbroath are able to pull off a shock result, McAnespie will be hoping to take his goal tally against Rangers to two.
And if he manages to get his name on the scoresheet, the Maroon faithful might be in for something special.
He explained: “I have been asked by a couple of people to do an Elvis impression if I score as it would have been his birthday on Sunday.
“My nephew in Australia has asked me to do a Tim Cahill but if I do manage you will just have to wait and see what I have planned.”