Linlithgow Rose bloom on their Scottish Cup travels
Did you hear the one about the dog walker and the sausage factory?
Not a tale of canine chaos, rather Scottish Cup glory for Linlithgow Rose, the first junior side to reach the last 16.
The East Superleague team got the better of League One Forfar Athletic thanks to an extra-time strike from Kevin Kelbie to set up a visit to Ross County.
Kelbie will have had an extra spring in his step as he braved the Wednesday morning rain with his dog-walking business.
Rose skipper Mark Tyrell may be feeling more hangdog since he missed the fourth-round replay heroics at Station Park, unable to swap a shift at the sausage factory where he works.
Four strikers, but only two up front
With Tyrell absent and a long list of suspensions and injuries, manager Davie McGlynn could only muster five substitutes on Tuesday, three of them kids and a former pro who hasn't played all season.
Joe Hamill, of Hearts and Leicester fame, agreed a summer move only to start a job involving late shifts every weekend. He does, however, get a Tuesday off, hence the call.
He wasn't required as the visitors made just one change in 120 minutes.
"We played with four strikers on the pitch because we have very limited numbers," McGlynn told BBC Scotland.
"We came up with 12 players, one fit sub, and Joe came along to help out.
"The boys' work-rate was incredible. The game was nip and tuck and we sneaked it."
Rose show their resolve
Linlithgow have progressed through every round on away soil and their spirit was abundantly clear when they recovered from 3-1 down with 10 men to set up the replay with Forfar.
That tenacity will be put to the test when they step up against Premiership opponents but McGlynn is not daunted by the prospect of facing the Staggies in the next round.
"We'll just need to go with a game plan and see if we can keep them quiet," he said.
"They are a full-time club so they will have more energy than us, so the boys will need try to settle into the game. On the day, anything can happen."
|The lowdown on Linlithgow|
|Town sits 20 miles west of Edinburgh along the main railway route to Glasgow||Linlithgow Palace was the birthplace of James V and Mary, Queen of Scots|
|Former First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond was born and grew up there||Rose have won Junior Cup four times, runners-up on three occasions|
Clocking up the miles
The near 340-mile round-trip to Dingwall will not phase the Rose either.
On their Scottish Cup travels, they have been to Galashiels in the Borders, Clachnacuddin in Inverness and Wick, 14 miles shy of John O'Groats. They made that gruelling bus journey twice since the second of four postponements came 40 minutes before kick-off.
Tuesday was also a second visit to Forfar after the first attempt was scuppered by floodlight failure early in the game.
"We're over 2,000 miles now and we're looking forward to the tremendous hospitality we know we'll get at Ross County," said club president Les Donaldson.
Juniors not so wee
Teams from the semi-professional junior leagues were first allowed entry to the competition in 2007, represented by the winners of the three regional leagues and the Scottish Junior Cup, with Linlithgow gaining entry this season via the Scottish FA's National Club Licensing programme.
Formed in 1889, they are nothing like new kids on the block East Kilbride, the other non-senior side in the last 16.
They have lifted the Junior Cup on four occasions, with three of those triumphs coming this century, and regularly attract crowds that are the envy of League One and Two clubs.
"Against Wick, three days before Christmas, we had 1,600 people," said Paterson. "And we had 2,100 against Forfar on the first Saturday in January.
"Financially, we can now afford to improve our facilities but it's not just about the money; it shows the junior game is still in good heart.
"To get this far is immense. What it's done for the club and junior football in general is tremendous. We are so proud of the boys."