Former Morton skipper Mark McLaughlin has told how he felt late grandfather Bobby Douglas was looking down on him as he was handed his dream Scottish Cup draw against the club they went to watch together in his youth.
Port Glasgow lad McLaughlin grew up supporting the Ton and fulfilled a childhood ambition by playing for them for a year and a half in seasons 2012/13 and 2013/14, making 44 appearances and scoring five goals.
At 40, the Beith defender is now considering calling it a day at the end of the current campaign and so was thrilled to have one last opportunity to play against the side he watched with his grandad when the clubs meet at Bellsdale next month.
Speaking exclusively to gmfc.net, the likeable centre-half beamed: “It was actually from wee Andy [Bryan] the kitman that I found out the draw.
“He text me saying: ‘Congratulations on the goal in the last round – but no more of that in the next round!’ From that I guessed we had got Morton.
“We have a group chat with the boys at Beith and on that they were all saying we got Morton at home and it was the perfect draw for me and they were right. I was absolutely delighted, absolutely buzzing. I can’t wait for it.
“I had 17 years senior and spoke to Clyde last season and they offered me another year but I had got to 40, that was my aim, and bowed out after achieving what I wanted to.
“My best pal is the assistant manager at Beith and he’s been trying to get me to come to the club for the last four years, so I went down for a chat and ended up signing and I’m loving it. It’s great.
“But my main focus is away from football with my work and concentrating on the family, and it’s my last year in the game so that’s why I was so happy with the draw.
“It’s a good way to finish with a Scottish Cup tie against the team I support. It’s quite ironic as well because I recently lost my grandad, Bobby Douglas, about six or seven weeks ago.
“He used to take me to watch Morton when I was a boy, so it’s kind of him looking down, saying: ‘Oh, there you go. There’s one last game against the team we supported.'”
It was the defender who sealed his side’s place in the third round draw with a 94th minute winner against BSC Glasgow, and despite his huge affection for the Cappielow club he’ll be doing his utmost to cause a seismic cup shock.
He added: “Hopefully we get a decent crowd for the club, and I’m sure Morton will bring a decent support down.
“It’s not too far away, it’s an old style stadium: you get to stand, you’re close to the park – like the Cowshed. It’s got that romance of the cup thing about it.
“The park is like a travellator! Some of the Morton boys will be in for a shut eye with a bang when they see it. And see trying to run up that slope at 40, it’s no joke!
“We’re a decent football team to be fair and it should be a good game. There will be a gulf in class with the levels; we’re not daft.
“But listen, you know me, I’m looking for the win. Just because it’s the team I support doesn’t mean I don’t want to cause a major upset. That’s a gimme.
“I’ll be coming up against some players in this game and getting a kick at them, and if this is my last season – and I think it will be – then I’ll be turning up at Cappielow next season and supporting them from the stands!”
Image (main): David Bell