Tommy Sloan has spent 16 years in the Auchinleck Talbot hot seat. He has an amazing CV in the junior game, with six Scottish Junior Cups and five West Premier Division titles. However, it’s fair to say that a Scottish Cup victory over Ayrshire rivals Ayr United would trump every trophy he has won.
With the game at Beechwood Park sold out, Sloan is hoping the park is rocking for what could be one of Talbot’s finest achievements.
He told NTOF: “We have to keep this game as normal as possible. We just need to keep doing what we are used to, and not worry about the TV cameras that will be at the match. We just need to cover Ayr’s strengths, and perhaps a couple of weaknesses they have.”
Expectations remain for Talbot
Whilst there will be many well-wishers on Saturday, very few expect Talbot to get any sort of positive result. That’s not the case for the Talbot faithful though, who after seeing their side topple Highland League side Fraserburgh, believe that another cup shock is possible.
There will be 4000 Talbot and Ayr fans present for the lunchtime kickoff against the Honest Men. This is an amazing figure for a junior side, but Sloan isn’t surprised by Talbot’s large following.
“The fans followed us all the way up to the Highlands in the previous round, so it isn’t a massive shock for us they are turning out in numbers. Ayr have also got a massive following. I watched their game against Queen of the South and they had a massive following there.
“We will be no different on Saturday. Our fans will get right behind us and it’s our job to give them something to shout about. That’s what I’ll be focusing on.”
Hoping for the best
With a 3-1 victory over local rivals Cumnock in the West of Scotland cup last Saturday, Talbot couldn’t have been going into the fixture on the back of a better result. Despite sitting third in their division, Auchinleck have numerous games in hand, and will most likely return to top spot in the league.
They may be kings in the junior game, but Sloan is well aware Ayr are a different beast, with quality vastly superior to what he has at his disposal. The Talbot manager is up for the fight though, and hopes to deliver a famous victory for his beloved side.
He said: “This game for the club is tremendous. To even think about getting a result and getting through the tie is something I’m not keen on. For Talbot to get through this tie and get any sort of result would be amazing for our club.
“It’s not just us though, I think it would help the status of the junior game. I want all the junior sides involved in these cups to do well. At junior level, we like our grade of football, and I want to be able to showcase that.
“We have to raise our game on Saturday. We have to stick to what we are good at and I believe Talbot have the players to cause Ayr problems. I’m well aware they are in a better league and are a better team than us on a normal day. We are capable of raising our game though, we have done it before in the cup this season. Hopefully we can come up with something.”