In any other year, Cove Rangers’ visit to Ibrox to face the Premiership champions would be an unforgettable experience.
But after 12 months where the stands of football stadia have by and large laid empty, facing Rangers on their own patch has a big ingredient missing.
Cove face Steven Gerrard’s side in the Scottish Cup at the weekend, the prize for their impressive 3-2 win over Alloa Athletic in January.
But with fans still not permitted in grounds, it robs Cove players and supporters of a memorable day becoming unforgettable.
Rory McAllister has played, scored and won in front of a packed Ibrox before. During the 2012-13 season, he scored the winner for Peterhead in a 2-1 victory when Rangers were in their first season in League Two.
It was a totally different Rangers outfit from the current all-conquering one – Chris Hegarty, Andrew Mitchell and Daniel Stoney all played for the Gers that day – and McAllister knows just what the players will be missing out on.
“It’ll be a great day out – it’s just a pity there’s no fans there,” said McAllister, who joined Cove in January 2020. “It’ll be a great day for the players that have never played there.
“It was a different Rangers team when I played there. It was a full-house twice. I’ve won there once and it’s a great atmosphere, playing in front of 40,000 people.
“It’s a shame there’s no fans there. It’ll still be a great experience to play against guys who are playing in the Europa League and have won the league title.”
Rangers, as well as being two leagues above, will have the added advantage of having regular game-time over the last two-and-a-half months.
Cove returned to action on March 20 against Partick Thistle and have since faced East Fife and Airdrieonians in League One, giving them some much-needed game-time ahead of the trip to Glasgow.
McAllister is realistic about what Cove can achieve at Ibrox, given the gap between the two sides.
“You’ve just got to grasp these opportunities when you can, put in a good performance for yourself and the club,” he added.
“You’ve got to go down there and be realistic. These guys are doing really well and you’ve got to go up against them as best you can.”
It is slated to be Cove’s second televised game of the season, having seen their Betfred Cup tie against Hibernian in October screened live on Premier Sports.
The same broadcaster will pick up the tie this weekend, bringing a further spotlight on to the Cove journey.
McAllister added: “It’s another good game for the club and hopefully we can show what we can do.”