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Shot at glory is 80 years in the making for Rovers

GOLIATH is struggling to get back to his feet and David fancies his chances.

The task ahead of Albion Rovers may not be as daunting as it could have been but it will still take a once-in-a-lifetime effort to topple a Rangers side making strides on the road to recovery.

James Ward, the Coatbridge club's manager, may have banned his players from taking 'selfies' when they arrive at Ibrox ahead of their William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final - the club's first for 80 years - tomorrow but that will not stop him urging his squad to make the most of the chance that presents itself.

Motherwell and Stenhousemuir have already been toppled by Rovers on their way to the last eight but knocking out Rangers would eclipse every result in the club's history.

The short-term financial benefits of a meeting with Ally McCoist's side are significant for Rovers but a moment that has been several decades in the making could live even longer in the memory if this cup fairytale has another chapter.

"There's no way I can play this down and there's no way I would want to play it down," Ward said. "It's taken us 80 years to get here, so why would I play down such a big achievement for these players as individuals and as a squad. If I'm being realistic, the majority of these players will never get this kind of opportunity again. I'll probably not get this opportunity again so why would we understate how much this means to us all?"

In every measurable way, Rovers should stand no chance of victory at Ibrox tomorrow. Their budget, facilities and squad are dwarfed by Rangers but, as they have proven, anything can happen. A couple of hours on the training field is all the extra work Ward, an operations manager for Young Enterprise Scotland, has been able to squeeze in this week. "If I want to sit and watch five hours of football at night I'll end up being in a single end somewhere," Ward said. "It's hard enough trying to fit in four nights because we're doing extra ahead of the game. If I say I'm going to watch five hours of football . . . Roberto Martinez might get away with it but I don't think I will. I've five or six DVDs but that doesn't prepare the players for walking out in front of 30-40,000 people."

The shock of seeing so many faces staring back at them when they emerge from the tunnel before kick-off tomorrow will be a test of Rovers' mettle. It is an experience goalkeeper Neil Parry had twice last season, both trips to Ibrox ending in defeat for his Queen's Park side.

"These are the days that make it all worthwhile," he grinned.

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