Rangers may be the newly-crowned Championship winners but Peterhead’s veteran goalkeeper Graeme Smith has warned the Glasgow giant’s fans that their team will have to do a lot more than just turn up to win the Petrofac Trophy at Hampden.
Smith knows a thing or two about cup finals, having pocketed a Uefa Cup runners-up medal in 2008 when he was Rangers’ back-up keeper against Zenit St Petersburg in Manchester.
He was also Kilmarnock’s understudy a year earlier in a 5-1 defeat by Hibernian in the League Cup final.
But he reckons the memories he will cherish most at the end of his career will be those formed at Hampden tomorrow because he will actually be playing. And he intends them to be happy memories.
He said: “Rangers fans will be in good voice after winning the league the other night. They think it will be just a case of turning up and beating Peterhead,” he said.
“But we know how good a team we can be. We deserve to be here. We put five goals past a Falkirk side going great guns in the semi-final. We almost feel like we’re the winners before a ball has been kicked. However, we’re certainly not here to make up the numbers and we’ll give it a right go.”
The keeper – who made just one appearance in his two-year Ibrox stint – added: “In terms of my career highlights, this game will be up there because I’ll be playing.
“I’ve experienced League Cup and Scottish Cup finals and league run-ins. I’ve experienced the highs of winning them and the lows when it ends in disappointment.
“But I was always on the outside, even though the team spirit was always great.
“This time though, I’ve played every minute leading up to the final so, no matter what happens, I’ll probably cherish the memories of Sunday more than the Uefa Cup final or any of the other big games I spent on the bench.
Peterhead will be facing a Rangers side which captain Lee Wallace insists have put the euphoria of Tuesday’s title win behind them and will be fully focused on the task tomorrow.
The squad enjoyed the celebrations with a lap of honour after beating Dumbarton 1-0 and there was champagne waiting for them in the dressing room. But Wallace insists the players were soon supping something more sensible as they returned their focus to tomorrow’s game.
The left-back said: “It was great to get the wee lap round the pitch and celebrate with the fans. They thoroughly deserve the fact we have got ourselves back to top-flight football. It was great to celebrate with them but we’ve got to remain professional and the mindset won’t change now we’ve won the league.
“There was obviously the bottles of champagne in the dressing room for the celebrations and to get some pictures, but it was soon on to the protein shakes to get ourselves ready for training the next day.”
Rangers have finally completed an emotionally testing journey through the lower leagues since their 2012 financial implosion.
They started that long road back to the Premiership with a 2-2 draw at Peterhead’s tiny Balmoor home and Wallace says it will be fitting if they can land their first cup success since their 2011 League Cup win over Celtic if they win tomorrow.
“It’s funny that we are facing Peterhead in our first game after clinching promotion when they were the first team we played in the Third Division,” said the Ibrox captain.
“Barrie McKay scored the equaliser and that was his first goal for the club all those years ago. It’s hard to remember the game but the result wasn’t great. It didn’t get us off to the best of starts.
“When I walk out there on Sunday I’ll take a moment to think about how much the club has moved on since then. But there’s more to come too.”