BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
WICK ACADEMY manager Gordon Connelly will risk a frosty family reunion at freezing Forthbank when the Scorries visit Stirling Albion.
The nation’s most most northerly club are aiming to reach the fourth round of the Scottish Cup for the first time in their history this afternoon – and it will be a poignant fixture for Connelly, who was raised “just a mile from the stadium” in Raploch.
With his extended family still based in the town, his brother, Bernard, and cousins, Marc and Ben, will be among those in the hospitality section, but Connelly admits he might struggle to convince them to cheer on the visitors.
He smiled: “I was born and raised in Stirling and I still have family there, so there will be a good few of them at the game, and more in hospitality. The Connelly family will probably double the gate by themselves!
“I’m expecting a mixed reaction from them, I’m not sure I’ll be able to tempt them all to support Wick! There are a couple of Stirling die-hards in there.
“But I’m sure they will like to see us do well, given this opportunity doesn’t come along too often.
“I went down to watch Stirling Albion last Saturday [2-2 against Arbroath] and it was good to get back and see the family and spend some time in the town – hopefully it is another good weekend this time.”
Indeed, Connelly could have been an Albion alumni if he had not chosen to instead kick-start his career with Burnley as a talented teenager before returning to Scotland to star for the likes of Dunfermline and Ross County.
He continued: “Stirling was the first club all the best kids from the area used to train with, so I was there as a young lad when Alex Smith was the manager. However, I chose to go down to Burnley instead of signing terms with Stirling.
“I never got the chance to play for them but, as your hometown club, there will always be a fondness there.”
However, there will be no room for sentiment when the Academy, who will be roared on by four coach-loads of fans from Caithness, attempt to create an almighty upset.
Connelly said: “I just want our players to do themselves justice. That’s all we can ask. There is no pressure on them – so we should embrace the opportunity to go out and make history.”