There’s a real air of ambition at the centre of Kelty Hearts’ bid to become the newest club in the SPFL.
They will travel to Glebe Park on Sunday, bidding to take Brechin City’s place in League Two, with goals from Kallum Higginbotham and Cammy Russell giving them a 2-1 first leg lead in the pyramid play-off final.
Kelty’s owner and General Manager Dean McKenzie is investing heavily in the Fife club, attracting seasoned professionals such as Higginbotham, Nathan Austin, Dylan Easton and Jamie Stevenson.
They are also managed by Rangers’ nine-in-a-row captain Barry Ferguson.
Kelty have a long journey ahead of them and League Two is seen as just the first wheel on the road to where they want to be.
They have ambitions of ‘doing a Gretna’ by soaring through the leagues, whilst avoiding the financial meltdown that brough the Borders’ club to a grinding halt in 2008.
However, first of all, they must see of the Angus side in a crucial second leg.
“When you look at it in previous years this has always been the game that’s hardest,” said Russell.
“With a lot of Lowland League or Highland League teams you probably think they’d do well in the SPFL, you see that with Cove and Edinburgh City both being in the play-offs this year.
“If teams get up there then they’ll push on and have ambition.
“Our club has ambition. Even when I first came here they said to me ‘we want to be up in the next year or two years’ and then to be pushing to go up again.
“It’s not just about a one-year or two-year plan, they want to move up and up and it’s great to be a part of that.”
Former Aidrieonians youngster Russell marked his return from a seven-month lay-off with a damaged Achilles and ankle ligaments by scoring his first goal in 15 months.
He did so in front of 250 supporters at New Central Park as the turnstiles finally clicked to allow fans to make their long-awaited return to the game, following the easing of Covid-restrictions.
‘Brilliant to have fans back’
“It was unbelievable. I said when I was warming up, ‘it feels kind of weird,’ added Russell.
“I was thinking back to when we last had fans, but it was brilliant to have them back.
“Hopefully we can do it for them on Sunday and then have SPFL football for them next season.
“It’s my first goal this season. I’ve been out for the last seven months. I did my Achilles and ankle ligaments, so it’s been quite a while coming.
“I was about to start training again and then lockdown started. So, I was road-running for months and being back on the pitch again feels brilliant.”
Meanwhile, Brechin keeper David Hutton insists City have ‘nothing to fear’ from Kelty in the second leg.
Hutton celebrated his 36th birthday as his side lost at New Central Park and is determined to finally celebrate it with victory on Sunday night.
“I know some of the Kelty players and I know they have quality,” said Hutton. “But we have nothing to fear going into the game on Sunday.
“The young players know what it means.
“I’ve spoken to them, the gaffer has spoken to them and our assistant boss Gerry McCabe has had a word.
“It’s a great club, great community and we are all going to do everything in our power to keep Brechin in this league.”