Darvel match-winner Jordan Kirkpatrick is struggling to comprehend the enormity of their Scottish Cup shock against Aberdeen, but the experienced midfielder always had belief Mick Kennedy’s side could be successful.
Kirkpatrick’s deflected first-half goal was enough to send the leaders of the West of Scotland Premier League – in the sixth tier of Scottish football – past the Dons and into the last 16 thanks to one of the biggest upsets in the competition’s 150-year history.
The 30-year-old said: “It will probably be years from now that I will actually digest it, and maybe when I am talking to my kids about it, but it’s another game for me right now. It’s hard for me to actually put into words.
“We are 56 places from them so when you look at it in that kind of perspective it’s an unbelievable achievement.”
Kirkpatrick played under Aberdeen manager Jim Goodwin for Alloa and represented a number of other league clubs, including Hamilton and St Mirren.
Many of Kennedy’s squad could play and have played at a higher level and the aim is to move through the divisions together to return to that stage.
Progression through Scottish football’s pyramid has only recently begun and remains slow.
Darvel were the first champions of the West of Scotland League last season after moving from the Scottish Juniors ranks but lost out on promotion to the Lowland League following a play-off defeat by East of Scotland champions Tranent, having beaten South winners St Cuthbert Wanderers in a semi-final.
Even if they were to get promoted to the Lowland League this time round, they would need to win that title, beat the Highland League champions and then face a play-off with the team who finished bottom in cinch League 2 before getting into the Scottish Professional Football League.
The path is littered with obstacles, including title challenges from the likes of Pollok and Beith in their own division, but the aim is clear.
“We have always got belief in ourselves and we knew that as soon as the manager recruited the boys,” Kirkpatrick said. “We knew what kind of level we wanted to get to.
“There’s a pyramid now and that’s the aim – to get ourselves to, maybe the Premiership is unrealistic, but for us it’s just getting ourselves as high in the leagues as we can.
“In our minds it’s just take every game as it comes and we will get this season out the way and deal with what comes ahead.
“There is no point trying to put ourselves out there and say where we are going to be in the next three years. As long as we do what we are doing and keep our heads down I think it will be good for us.”
Cup glory is more immediate and Darvel will host Falkirk next month having already beaten their opponents’ League 1 rivals Montrose 5-2 on the road in the third round.
Kirkpatrick said: “We will give Falkirk the same respect we have Aberdeen, but again we believe in ourselves and we give ourselves another good chance of getting through to the next round.”
Darvel can expect another bumper crowd after raising their capacity to 3,500 for Monday’s game, the turnout similar to the Ayrshire town’s population.
Kirpatrick said: “It was overwhelming actually. We have good crowds at times when it’s big games and they come in their numbers, but it was overwhelming. But once you are in the game it’s just a case of tuning in and concentrating. But it was brilliant.
“Even when I’m speaking to some of them, the expression and heart they have got for this town is amazing. It’s hard for me to sometimes even understand what they go through but for 3,000 Darvel fans to come here was great.”
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