LEWIS MACKINNON is convinced Highland League upstarts Buckie Thistle can pull off a cupset and ease past East Stirlingshire when the two sides meet at Ochilview on January 9.
After all the 25-year-old has already been part of two sides which claimed major cup scalps when, as part of the Inverness Caley Thistle squad, he helped dump Old Firm giants Celtic – twice.
Mackinnon, who recently told the Gazette of his long-term hopes to play for Lochs as a tribute to his Lochie father Donnie from Calbost, was just a starry eyed youth team player on the books of Caley Thistle when they went ballistic against a Celtic side who were dubbed atrocious back in 2000 as they went down 3-1 at Celtic Park.
But he felt every second of the victory alongside the other youth team players in the stand in the East End of Glasgow celebrating the greatest victory in their history.
Two-years later the Jags repeated the trick with a second Scottish Cup win over the Hoops with Mackinnon then on the fringes of the first team as a YTS player.
So he knows from personal experience that in the cup anything can happen and he is tipping the Highland League champs to book a fifth round for the first time in their history.
He said: “I definitely think we can beat East Stirling but of course it won’t be an easy tie.
“We are a good side and we proved that in the last round when we beat a very good Bo’ness on their own ground.
“I’d be surprised if East Stirling were as strong as Bo’ness so if we can handle them I’ve every confidence we can do the same in the next round. I believe they are quite a new team, with some young and inexperienced players so that could maybe give us the edge as we have a very settled side who all know each other well.”
If Buckie do edge past the Shire they will go into the fifth round hat where they could be handed a glamour tie against any of the remaining sides which could include both halves of the Old Firm, Rangers and Celtic - a prospect which Mackinnon reveals is urging the players on.
He continued: “To be honest I did want to get Rangers at Ibrox in the draw for the once in a lifetime chance to play there, the fact it would be a massive earner for Buckie and it would also be a bit of an experience to be playing in front of their fans wearing green and white hoops.
“But being drawn against East Stirling isn’t a bad draw as it is a winnable tie which would be great for the club. They will start as favourites of course with them being a senior league club so a win for us would be an upset and I know all about them.
“I was a youth team player when Caley Thistle won at Celtic Park back in 2000 but I was there at the game in the stand and it was an amazing time to be involved with the club.
“Nobody gave us a chance but we beat a side packed with internationals like Mark Viduka and Lubo Moravcik and it proved upsets do happen.
“We then proved it wasn’t a fluke in 2002 when we beat them in the cup again. That time I was definitely more involved with the celebrations as I was a YTS player by then and the scenes in the dressing room were incredible, something I’ll never forget.”
Despite having been born in Inverness, Mackinnon remains a regular visitors to the isles where much of his family still live and he is proud of his Hebridean heritage and a keen follower of the local game.
He added: “Because I play football in the Highland League it is always the summer months when I get the chance to go to Lewis so it works out perfectly for me to catch some Lochs’ matches.
“I always enjoy them and they have some very good players who are more than good enough to play in the Highland League. I actually know Gordon Morrison (ex-Lochs and now current Inverness Clach skipper) quite well and he has done well in both leagues.
“My Dad buys the Gazette every week still in Inverness too so he keeps me posted on the results up there and he has also taken me to some Highland Amateur Cup games here on the mainland when Lochs have been involved so I am pretty aware of the game over there.”