RUARI and Roddy MacLennan will be brothers in arms this weekend as Linlithgow Rose look to put the icing on the cake of an incredible season by lifting the Emirates Scottish Junior Cup.
The midfielders will line up at Livingston’s Braidwood Motors Stadium on Sunday against nine-time winners Auchinleck Talbot in what promises to be an enthralling clash.
Mark Bradley’s Linlithgow side have yet to lose a match this season and are looking to make it an incredible 50 games unbeaten when they take on Ayrshire giants Talbot, who themselves romped to the West Super League crown without tasting defeat.
Rose have already been crowned East Super League champions after racking up a record points total, and have lifted the Dechmont Forklift League Cup. They have a Fife & Lothians Cup final against Camelon still to come, while they’re also through to the last four of the East of Scotland Cup. An astonishing clean sweep of Junior honours, therefore, is within their grasp.
For the MacLennans – who live just half a mile from Linlithgow’s Prestonfield home ground – it doesn’t get much bigger than this weekend’s showpiece. Ruari revealed: “We’re going for 50 games unbeaten and that’s a tremendous achievement in itself.
“It’s the best of the West against the best of the East on Sunday and that promises a lot. Both sides carry a big support so we’re expecting around the 7000-mark for the crowd at Livingston.
“I’ve never experienced the Junior Cup final build-up as a player. You can’t walk down the street without people wishing you well – it’s great.
“I’ve played at Livingston before and there can be a good atmosphere there. If our supporters get behind us, then I think we have a good chance.”
Ruari, 25, and Roddy, 24, both former Clyde players, have been in sparkling form this season as Rose have conquered all before them, contributing 11 and 15 goals from midfield respectively.
MacLennan senior admits he’d take great pride in outgunning his brother in the scoring stakes when the season draws to a close. I’d be happy to score more than Roddy this season and I’m on his tail. That doesn’t happen too often as he usually scores more goals than me but this season I’ve been cracking them in from all over the place and I hope to get among the goals again on Sunday. ”
For Roddy, Sunday’s game represents another chance to get his hands on a winner’s medal, having helped Linlithgow win the trophy for the fourth time in their history against Largs in 2010.
Kevin Donnelly scored the only goal of the game that day at Kilmarnock’s Rugby Park.
He said: “I remember the celebrations after that game – they went on forever. It’s a special day for everyone in the town and we hope we don’t let them down.
“We want to keep the unbeaten run going as long as possible. The manager is treating the game the same way he has every other this season. ‘One game at a time’ is the message he’s been giving us and it works, so why try and fix it?
“There should be a good atmosphere at Livingston on Sunday. I remember when Rose played Bo’ness in the semi-final there a few years back and it was brilliant. I hope it’s the same on Sunday.”
One player who has had a busy season in more ways than one is Linlithgow central defender Jamie McKenzie.
McKenzie, who once played professionally in Cyprus, joined Rose 18 months ago as he returned to Scotland to study accountancy at Napier University.
And the 27-year-old revealed how he’s been forced to prepare for matches this season by doing bar shifts until 3.30am on the morning of games!
He said: “After playing professionally in Cyprus, I decided to come back home and study. It’s been a difficult season for me, to be honest. I work in a bar to help me through university, finishing at 3.30am on a Saturday morning before getting myself ready for games in the afternoon. It’s worse in the winter when the games start earlier although I’d finish at 2am then to give me some extra rest.
“It’ll be worth it, though, if we lift the Cup on Sunday. I’ll forget about all the weary nights then and enjoy the celebrations.
“This season has been incredible for the club and if things continue it could be a record-breaking one.
“We’ve hit a sticky patch in some recent games but our winning mentality has got us over the line when we looked down and out.
“Sunday’s game will see the best two teams in Scotland square up so something’s got to give. We must make sure it isn’t us.”