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An unexpectedly early return for a discarded fan

OF all the players featuring in William Hill Scottish Cup action this weekend, few have as little need to find external motivation as Mitch Megginson.

Mitch Megginson is now flourishing at Dumbarton. Picture: SNS
Mitch Megginson is now flourishing at Dumbarton. Picture: SNS

This time last year, the local lad and boyhood Aberdeen fan was dreaming of living happily ever after as part of a progressive Pittodrie first team. Instead, after a somewhat unhappy divorce from the club - a peremptory end to a second loan spell at Alloa Athletic left him unable to impress new manager Derek McInnes - he returns there in Dumbarton colours, determined that his former club's burgeoning success should not come at his expense.

"Ever since I left I have wanted the chance to play against them and now it has obviously come," said Megginson, a Scotland under-17 and under-19 internationalist who has registered nine goals this season.

"Derek had just come in so, ultimately, it was his decision to let me go, but I wasn't allowed to play any games for Aberdeen or the under-20s so he never got to see me play at all. I couldn't really do anything about it. It was a shame how it ended but it has worked out well for myself now. I won't have any divided loyalties, I will be Dumbarton 100%. All the pressure will be on them, whether they can handle that or not we will see."

Originally a striker, then a wide midfielder, Megginson has had most joy this season operating in a central role behind the front, markedly similar to that currently occupied with such elan by one of his closest pals at Pittodrie, Peter Pawlett. While he delights in the nationwide attention that his close friend is finally receiving, suffice to say he will not be shy in attempting to throw him off his game this weekend.

"I have seen plenty of their games and I still speak to most of the boys there," said Megginson. "Peter Pawlett and Scotty Vernon are probably my closest pals, Ryan Jack as well. Peter has always been an absolutely frightening player, even at youth level, but, with the confidence he has got now, he has just blossomed.

"All he needed was a bit of confidence and a run of games. He has shown everybody what he can do and good for him but we could be pretty close together on the day so I'll have to give him a wee kick!"

Aberdeen as a club will always be in Megginson's DNA - he used to attend matches such as the club's epoch-defining European jousts with Bayern Munich with his  father Mike - but, in all, he started just 12 matches there, including early exposure to Europe against Sigma Olomouc.

While he was hardly complaining at the time, with the benefit of hindsight he probably fell between two stools: deemed too valuable for the first-team squad to grace under-20 matches, yet not valuable enough to be a guaranteed starter. "I just wanted a good run of games to get my fitness up and show people what I could do but at times I never got the chances I felt I deserved," said Megginson. "It was hard because I wasn't really playing too many games for the under-20s, I was involved in training with the first team. Then when I did get a chance for the first team it was  hard because I hadn't played for  four or five weeks. I was just thrown in at the deep end. If things had worked out differently I think I could have shown a bit more of what I was capable of."

Megginson likes to regard Dumbarton as a "part-time team with full-time players", and his manager Ian Murray believes the 21-year-old is the case in point.

"He [Megginson] has been going great," said Murray. "He has come from full-time at a good club and it is sometimes hard for players to adapt to part-time.

"At the start of the season we were playing him up front and he didn't look entirely comfortable, he is more comfortable with the ball at his feet, running at players. But he has been incredible for us the last two or three months, really working hard, and chipping in a with a few goals for us as well."

After a few early messages after the draw was made, the phone really will be red hot in the next 48 hours. "There were a few texts and phone calls when the draw was made but closer to the time I will try to wind them up a bit," says Megginson. "Anything to help the team."

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