THE numbers make for staggering reading: Played 16, Won 15, Drawn 1, Lost 0, For 98 Against 10, Points 46. And that's just in the league which unsurprisingly Banks O' Dee sit at the top of. It's not bad reading in the various cups and shields which the North Region Super League outfit have featured in this season, either. Their sole defeat came against Lochee United in the Scottish Junior Cup but they are faultless in everything else. They won the Aberdeenshire Cup in October, they've reached next month's Aberdeenshire Shield final and have knocked out Linlithgow Rose, Turriff United, Nairn County and East Fife on their way to today's Scottish Cup fourth round meeting with Championship high-flyers Raith Rovers.

This afternoon expectant supporters will pack the rafters in the Gordon Christie stand at Spain Park, a well-appointed little ground that has just had “hundreds of thousands” spent on it on floodlights and a new pitch. The pristine 4G surface is the same as the one today's opponents play on at Stark's Park. Driven by the chairman, Brian Winton, there has been exponential growth made by the Aberdeen-based Junior outfit in recent years and now they have one eye on promotion to the Highland League through the pyramid system.

What's the secret behind their success?

“There's not really a secret,” says Jamie Watt, their manager who had a successful Highland League career with a number of clubs as a player, notably Cove Rangers. “We have had a core of young talent that has come through together, about five or six of them who are really exceptional players. On top of that, what I have done is added experienced boys [including former Aberdeen and Inverness midfielder Stuart Duff] who I knew were really top Highland League players. We've had a lot of offers and a lot of teams interested but they have never left because they all love our football. We have just got stronger and stronger.”

“Brian is a shrewd character and he makes it well aware that if you wanted to buy one of these players it's going to be premium money. Michael Philipson is the one the Highland League clubs all want to get. Formartine, Fraserburgh, Locos, the Aberdeenshire clubs all tell me 'if ever there's a chance we could get him then let us know'.” Cove watched him when Paul Hartley came in. I thought Cove would have taken a punt on him but thankfully for us they never did and he's hung around. It worked well for him. He's had four years at university with his job as an accountant. He's still doing exams, he's comfortable with us but he has said he would like to play higher but he wanted to focus on getting his education. He is actually missing training for the next three weeks because he has got exams again. Most of the players are coming to the end of their student time and starting to get into the working world. We have actually found it a bit of a challenge: quite a few of them this year have gone into work and are on call or are missing training sessions because their work is keeping them.”

It makes for a balancing act at this level. Banks' Scottish Cup run almost ended before it started when Watt took a depleted team to Linlithgow Rose back in August.

“It was the hardest game that we have had and we ended up getting a penalty in the last minute to get through that game,” he recalls. “We only had 13 available that day and we struggled to put out a team. We had wingers playing full backs by the end. Since then the confidence has been sky high. We went up to Fraserburgh in the Aberdeenshire Cup on the Tuesday, we had 12 players, I had three 16-year-olds who came up with me, my only centre half went off after seven minutes and we won that one 2-1 and I had guys all over the pitch playing out of position. That Linlithgow game showed us that we could do it. It was a huge result.”

Helping Watt oversee the development of his talented squad is his co-manager Roy McBain, who succeeded long-time incumbent Tommy Forbes in the role last summer.

McBain was a member of the 2004 Inverness Caledonian side which secured promotion to the top flight, won the Challenge Cup and reached the semi-final of the Scottish Cup before losing to Dunfermline Athletic after a replay.

Watt says he has tapped into McBain's back catalogue of big games to help motivate his players. Co-managers are not a common sight in football but Watt, 43, says it works for Banks O' Dee and gives his coaches flexibility over other commitments. Last weekend, he watched Rovers' 2-1 defeat by Arbroath while McBain took charge of the 6-1 win over Maud, one of the benefits of sharing the manager's role between them.

“It worked really well with me and Tommy Forbes. The chairman just wanted to keep that dynamic when Roy came in. It's all I have been used to in management so I don't look at it any other way. I end up taking the lead, Roy is in the background. We bounce off each other. When it comes to picking the team we have our agreements and our disagreements, there have been a couple this week. But we talk it out, we sit down and most of the time I win,” he laughs.

“The job [eats up] quite a bit of time: guys getting in touch, who can make training, who can't, who's injured, where they're at, getting in touch with the physio, are they going to make the Saturday. It's me that has got to contact players. The chairman will be on the phone most days with some news to tell me. There's always something happening. Most of this happens at training but I do find I need to take time out at work to sort things out. I'm a plumber, I run my own business. If I do get held up on a job, then Roy is there to take the reins, no problem.”

“The chairman's son, Josh Winton, also came on board this year as a third coach. It's the same with Roy, he's an apprentice electrician, sometimes he gets stuck away and can't make training and if that's the case we have always got two coaches there.”

It will be an emotional occasion at Spain Park this afternoon. On Thursday, the club buried its former secretary Tam Ewan, today his grandson will be the mascot as the teams are led out on to the pitch and there will be a minute's applause before kick off in memory of a man who served Banks O' Dee in a number of roles.

“You don't get many like him nowadays. There always seems to be one or two, though, who are the lifeblood of a club. He was just one of those guys who loved it, he couldn't wait for you to come off to speak to you about the game and his thoughts. Hopefully we can give him a nice little send off on Saturday.”

What better way than with an upset that would really make Scottish football sit up and take notice of the mini-revolution taking place under Watt?