KEVIN CUTHBERT has for a dozen years been a slave to Scottish football's second tier.
The goalkeeper began his career in the Scottish Premier League with St Johnstone but has not played in the top flight since their relegation in 2002, turning out for the Perth club, Morton, Ayr United and Hamilton Academical in the old first division, now the SPFL Championship.
This season, though, there is a glimmer of an opportunity for the 31-year-old to shake off the shackles of life beneath the top tier. Hamilton are second in the Championship and will seek to close the gap to leaders Dundee to a single point tomorrow night when they take on Livingston at home. Winning the title remains the priority although the introduction of play-offs means there could be a second bite at the cherry.
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After years of playing the same sides and travelling to the same grounds, Cuthbert is desperate for a bit of variety. "Am I sick of this league after 12 years?" he said. "Oh aye. I was so happy when Queen of the South got relegated because it felt like I'd been to Palmerston about 40 times in my career.
"I could do with getting promoted. I've finished second a good few times, as well as getting relegated. It's a league where you've been dying for the possibility of two teams getting promoted, and I'm glad it's finally happened. I was with St Johnstone when we finished second two or three times.
"There are pictures all around the club of players who have won the league with Hamilton. You're never forgotten when you do that. You want to leave your mark on a club. You don't want to spend your career not getting out of this division; you want to prove you can play at a higher level. It would be great to do that with Hamilton, especially since we have a newish squad."
Hamilton's form has been up and down since the turn of the year but they beat Raith Rovers at Stark's Park last weekend. Cuthbert said: "We had some disappointing results and had let ourselves down over the past few weeks but hard work has got us out of it. Hopefully we can kick on.
"The title will be between us, Dundee and Falkirk. One thing we have done recently is focus more on ourselves. We are focusing on Livingston on Friday and we'll just take care of our own business."