The Scottish Mail on Sunday


- By Fraser Mackie

AS a man who pined for a dream life in the profession­al game while working in a fashion store in Edinburgh, putting himself in the shoes of today’s opponents is not difficult for Darren McGregor.

The thought of full-time football wages, the faraway images of playing in front of thousands rather than a couple of hundred people and the search for even a slender slice of fame.

Shop windows to showcase talent will be few and far between for the BSC Glasgow players, so this afternoon’s William Hill Scottish Cup fifth-round tie against Hibernian will be viewed a potential life-changer.

For McGregor, opportunit­y knocked thanks to ex-Cowdenbeat­h manager Danny Lennon going back to Central Park and securing him for St Mirren in the summer of 2010.

He had finally reached his shelf life in the clothes shop and earned the big break two months shy of his 25th birthday.

Almost a decade later, McGregor is a former Rangers Player of the Year and a Scottish Cup winner, with his beloved Hibernian keen on a Hampden repeat in May.

To move a step closer to that goal, the defender acknowledg­es that he and his Hibs colleagues must deal with a powerful dynamic in their rival team’s approach at Alloa today.

McGregor (right) explained: ‘I know from being in the lower echelons of the

Scottish league — and playing against bigger teams — you are always out to prove yourself with the off-chance you might get a move or someone might notice you.

‘So there’s definitely that incentive for them.

‘They are probably going into the game, looking at us and knowing us from afar. Watching us on Sportscene, assuming we are on thousands and thousands of pounds!

‘And, listen, that is an aspiration of theirs. When I was at Arniston Rangers and Cowdenbeat­h, it was always a privilege to play the big teams. It was one you always looked forward to and wanted to prove yourself in. ‘A lot of these guys on the pitch for BSC, if they are confident guys, will be thinking: “I could play at that level. I want to show what I am all about”. So I definitely know it will be a very difficult game.’

The 34-year-old is one Hibs player who won’t feel much of a culture shock from facing Lowland League opposition away just days after turning out at Ibrox in the top flight. After all, McGregor’s career has been a tour around all venues grand and grim.

Recreation Park doesn’t rank among McGregor’s worst but it was the stage for a miserable memory on the artificial surface.

Rangers and McGregor crashed out of the Challenge Cup to Alloa at the semi-final stage in December 2014, despite holding a two-goal lead with 17 minutes left.

McGregor said: ‘I think that’s disappeare­d from my mind, to be honest!

‘It’s worlds apart from playing at Ibrox in midweek but we can’t factor into the approach from us. We’ve played at Alloa in the Championsh­ip and there are a lot of guys in the team familiar with the pitch and its dimensions. So that’s a bonus, even if we don’t have a familiarit­y with their team.

‘We need to make sure the shock of the competitio­n isn’t on us.

‘We know about how important the Scottish Cup is to the fans and to this club. To generate money, a feel-good factor.’

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