Having been without football for so long, Buckie Thistle players wanted to enjoy it while it lasted.
For Sam Pugh and the rest of his Buckie team-mates, getting through last weekend’s 120 minutes against Brora Rangers, earning a Highland League Cup final berth, gave them another guaranteed fixture with uncertainty over whether the league will start on time.
It was Pugh’s first game for the Jags, having signed in April after his return from a scholarship in America, and he now has the chance to win silverware. Victory over Rothes at Kynoch Park tomorrow would be Buckie’s first success in this competition since 2012.
But there is also acknowledgement that for all their heroics in Sutherland last Sunday, which saw them beat the reigning league champions on penalties, it would be for nothing if green-and-white ribbons are not attached to the trophy tomorrow.
Pugh said: “If we had been beaten then we would have had a couple of weeks off before doing another pre-season. I think that’s why the boys were so motivated.
“You just want to keep playing as long as you can, as you don’t know when you’re playing next. It could be the last game for goodness knows how long.
“Regardless if we win or lose, tomorrow is the last game (until the league starts) so we need to make the most of it.
“I’ve only played in the Brora game but I know the boys have already beaten Fraserburgh, so they’ve done it the hard way. Rothes are no different and we don’t take them lightly.
“If we lose on Saturday, the Brora game means nothing. It’s just another stepping stone towards silverware and it’s just as big a game as last Sunday.”
The start of the Highland League season has been slated for November 28 but there are doubts about meeting that date, given the league’s commitment to not starting without fans and the lack of movement on allowing spectators back in football grounds.
Winning silverware in the competition, which is being finished from the curtailed 2019-20 campaign, could provide a platform for the club to push for further honours.
They won the league and Aberdeenshire Cup double in 2017 but have since seen Cove Rangers and Brora seize the Highland League title.
Pugh added: “I have seen Spider (manager Graeme Stewart) saying it’s probably one of the best squads he’s had at Buckie. I’m just getting started here and hopefully I can get off on the right footing.
“Having players who have won the title is what every squad needs. That kind of experience goes a long way.
“It’s a massive club and with the quality we’ve got in the team, backroom staff and fans, we should be up there challenging for everything.”
Both semi-finals last weekend were streamed live online, with no fans being able to attend, and the final will follow suit this weekend.
As much as the situation is far from ideal, Pugh will take the support wherever it comes from right now.
He said: “When you know there are people watching it does give you a bit of a boost. My parents managed to watch it (last Sunday) and will do again on Saturday.
“If they do it for the beginning of the season, it’s definitely better than having nothing.”