K Park. Two hours before kick off and I’ve been invited inside the BSC Glasgow dressing room prior to their Scottish Cup fourth round tie against East Kilbride.

The shirts are up on coathooks, footless socks are being sorted and one table looks as if it has been set up for a children’s birthday party. There are grapes, slices of watermelon, Haribos, Squashies, Tunnock’s Teacakes and cartons of Capri Sun arranged appetisingly on it. On a bench sit countless bandages, tapes, wraps, creams and ointments. There’s even a moonboot in the middle of the floor.

Centre-half Ross Smith has had an injection on his right ankle and now physio Lynn Glen is applying heavy strapping. ‘Smudger’ has not played in weeks and there is concern that he might not last the distance.

Martin Grehan comes over for a chat. He says he’s loving the challenge of helping the younger lads to develop. Asked if he thinks he will start, the 35-year-old replies: “I think so.” Then, when he’s pushed for a prediction he says he thinks BSC will win 2-0. Fraser Wright, the assistant manager, goes for the same scoreline.

Earlier Stephen Barr, the goalkeeper, had agreed to give me a lift to East Kilbride’s K Park. His girlfriend’s family are all EK supporters and her cousin, Scott Stevenson, plays for them.

Barr is not expecting to start but he’s still nervous for his team-mates according to his dad. This is part of BSC’s secret – there’s an indefatigable spirit among the players, a comradeship peculiar to those who play team sports.

On the walls, manager Stephen Swift has pinned inspirational messages. One reads “At the end of the day, let there be no excuses, no explanations, no regrets.” The set-piece routines have been typed out, printed off and pinned to another wall. Swift is a self-employed floor layer. He’s a father of four, the most recent arrival was a boy, six weeks ago. I wonder when he finds the headspace to do it all. “It’s 100mph all the time,” he admits.

There are no signs of nerves, however. Swift says he’s worse when the game starts.


Eventually, he steps forward to address his players. The dressing-room door is locked and the dance music blasting out of a speaker is cut. Swift says he’s not even going to bother talking about East Kilbride because he knows that if BSC play the way they can then EK won’t be able to live with them. Swift finishes his team talk by saying “Intensity is our identity.” It is a subtle but effective battlecry.

Then it starts, the music is turned up again, the energy begins to build. The shouts and roars go out. “This is what it’s all about.” “No regrets, no f*****g regrets.” “Everybody in here is all that counts.”

There is an almost feral quality to the atmosphere now as the players take it in turns to whip the room into a frenzy. There are repeated high fives and slaps on backs. The dance classic Pump It Up has become BSC’s walk-out anthem. The room is practically thumping now and Swift embraces every player as they make their way out on to the pitch.

Swift lives up to his own motto. He paces the full extent of the technical area in front of BSC’s dugout, then he’s down on his hunkers, next he’s bent over, hands on knees as if he’s just run a marathon (he practically walks one during the 90 minutes), now he’s shouting, pointing, pleading. His side are the embodiment of his attitude, though. They are on the front foot immediately. Two minutes have elapsed when Michael Henderson plays in attacker Thomas Collins and he swivels first time and sends the ball towards the bottom right corner past Matt McGinley in the EK goal.

Smiles soon turn to frowns when two successive attacking corners turn into full-blown counters by EK. Swift is screaming at his players now, demanding to know what is going on. He soon identifies that Collins is not sitting on the edge of the area to stop the counter attacks at source.

Grehan, who does start, is unplayable. David Proctor in particular cannot live with him. The centre-back, who once played in the top flight with Inverness, repeatedly fouls the veteran striker prompting an admonishment from a team-mate which sounds something like “Gonnae try and stop f*****g wrestling him?”

Proctor is not the only one struggling to keep a lid on things. Bernard Coll, the EK left-back, catches Jamie McCormack on the shins with both studs but, remarkably, is only shown a yellow card by the referee Calum Scott.

By now, BSC should have scored another as the lightning start continues. Swift is pacing again, the nervous energy flooding out of him.Then, suddenly, his side are 2-0 up. Another Proctor foul on Grehan results in a free-kick which Jamie McCormack heads home. He sprints half the pitch to join Swift in the dugout for a celebratory hug.

Swift had been very wary of Paul Woods, the EK winger, at Thursday evening training but McCormack hasn’t given him a kick and is playing superbly. Another who is catching the eye is Grehan. His touch is superb, and he’s cute. He knows when to draw fouls or hold on to the ball or flick it on. He gets his reward for a terrific first half with a curling, left-foot shot that effectively kills the game seven minutes before the break.

The EK dressing room is riotous at half-time. Players are screaming at each other, pointing the finger of blame. That forms part of the conversation inside the BSC dressing room before Swift puts a stop to it. There’s also an inquest of sorts among the BSC players but Swift wants the players to focus.


He reiterates what he told Collins earlier about corners and tells Grehan to influence the ref a bit more with free-kicks but above all he wants more of the same.

“Give me 20 minutes of what you have given me so far and we’ll win it,” he says. “You’re fitter than them. So run them. For that first half alone you deserve to go through but the job’s not done.”

He expects changes, too, predicting Jim Paterson, the EK manager, will bring on Sean Winter to lift them and give them an out ball.

Swift is right, there are changes but the wide player who comes on is Anton Brady, not Winter. Proctor is put out of his misery as Stevenson comes on at right-wing back and EK go to three at the back. Brady starts to pull the strings and there are glimpses that the home team have got their act together. Their captain Craig Malcolm hits the underside of the bar and then converts a penalty.

The tension on the bench is palpable. BSC cannot get out, they’re too deep yet they still almost manage a fourth on the break but Thomas Orr is wasteful on a couple of occasions and is denied by a good stop by McGinley on another. Yet, still the tension does not lift. The pacing continues, the desperate pleas get louder, and the linesman tidies up the stragglers like a bouncer at kicking out time for the nth time in the second half.

There is confusion in the dugout about how much time is left and Lynn Glen, the physio, says another prayer; this one is finally answered.