BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Edinburgh City defender Gordon Donaldson admits he is relishing the prospect of crossing swords with former Celtic and AC Milan star Massimo Donati – and reckons that just sums up the meteoric rise of the Meadowbank men.
Donaldson has been affiliated with the Citizens for two decades, initially taking part in kids’ classes at the age of five before rising through the ranks to become a first-team stalwart.
He has been a regular fixture in City’s journey from East of Scotland League also-rans to becoming the first club ever promoted to the SPFL through the pyramid playoffs.
However, the coup de grace will come this evening when they welcome Premiership outfit Hamilton to Meadowbank – including SPL-winner Donati, who scored on his return to Scottish football against St Mirren on Saturday.
He said: “You see these players compete every week on Sportscene or on the live games, so this is a great opportunity to test ourselves and gauge how far we’ve come as a squad.
“You look at their team and you have a guy in there like Massimo Donati. That is someone who played for AC Milan and did well in Serie A as well as at Celtic, so that will be a bit surreal.
“It is strange how these things come around. A few years ago – playing in front of fewer than 100 fans – I definitely wouldn’t have imagined that.
“But we’ll treat him like any other player. If you let him play his game, if you give him time, then of course he has outstanding quality and he will hurt us. We just need to get stuck in and try to stop him.
“It’s just another great experience and terrific test. It says a lot about how far we’ve come. I’m still getting my head around it all. Against Livingston, that was the first time we had played a team with names on the back of their shirts!”
However, Donaldson’s enthusiasm should no be mistaken for being star-struck, with the defender insisting Gary Jardine’s men are out to spring an almighty shock.
And he has vowed to take inspiration from Annan Athletic’s remarkable 4-1 Scottish Cup win over the Accies last term.
Donaldson added: “The manager has been keen to emphasise that we shouldn’t be overawed and are good enough to compete at this level and, with a bit of luck, we could have got something from the [1-0] defeat against Ayr.
“We have taken a lot of confidence from that performance against a Championship side, although we know it will be another massive step up in class to play Hamilton.
“This will be the first time we’ve played a Premiership team in a competitive game, but Hamilton lost against Ayr earlier in this group and a League Two team, Annan, beat them in the Scottish Cup last season.
“So, we’re not going out thinking ‘we’re definitely going to lose’. We have good players and, given half a chance, we can hurt Hamilton.”