NICKY CLARK’S last trip to Hampden is one he would rather forget – but he hopes this afternoon’s visit can be the start of a memorable Scottish Cup journey for Dunfermline.
The Pars begin the ‘road to Hampden’ at the national stadium against Queen’s Park, who currently sit bottom of League One, and are hopeful of making the current gulf between the teams tell.
Clark was last at the Mount Florida ground for the 2016 Scottish Cup final, but his 15-minute cameo for Rangers at the end of the match coincided with Hibs’ dramatic comeback to seal their historic 3-2 win.
The penalty-kicks win over Celtic in the semi-final a month earlier was a happier occasion, although Clark did miss in the shoot-out, and prior to that the 26-year-old suffered defeat to the Hoops in the League Cup semi-final of February 2015.
With such mixed recollections, the Fifers striker would love to get back to Hampden later in the tournament as the Championship side eye a lengthy cup run.
He said: “Hampden’s a great place to play and the boys are looking forward to going there.
“It’s great to be involved in the Scottish Cup and it’s nice to kick things off at Hampden.
“Obviously, if you get to the semi and the final then you get to play there again.
“And, 100 per cent, we want to get back there later in the tournament. Every competition you play in you want to do as well as possible and get to the later stages.
“That’s the plan for us and I think we’ve got a good enough squad to go far in this competition.
“I lost one and won one in the Old Firm games I played at Hampden, so I’ve got a 50-50 record there.
“But my last trip to Hampden (against Hibs) wasn’t great.
“The games I’ve played there have been three massive games and it’s a great place to go and play your football.
“It’s a place you want to go, especially at the end of the season when all the big games are being played, and obviously you want to come out on top.”
Today’s opponents may be propping up League One but Clark knows to expect a tough game after working under Spiders manager Gus MacPherson during his time at Queen of the South.
That said, the former Aberdeen trainee, who has netted eight times this season, is hopeful of breaking his six-game sequence without a goal, against the part-timers.
He added: “Personally, I thrive on goals and I’ve not got many recently, so I’m desperate to get back on the score-sheet, for me and the team to do well.
“Goals win you games – they’re massive – and hopefully we’ll get back to scoring goals on Saturday.
“It’s frustrating when you don’t score goals, but you just need to keep your head down and keep working hard, and keep doing the things you’re doing in training.
“Sometimes you just need one to go in off your backside or something, and I’m sure once I get one I’ll kick on again and get another few.”