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Ross Matthews recalls unforgettable celebrations after dumping Rangers as Raith Rovers eye SPFL Trust Trophy glory

Spotted: Matthews laps up the celebrations
Spotted: Matthews laps up the celebrations

“We all got a turn holding the trophy — even though I had nothing to do with it,” laughs Ross Matthews.

He is reflecting on one of the most memorable days in Raith Rovers’ modern history.

Now a Stark’s Park stalwart, Matthews was a fresh-faced teenager when Grant Murray’s men stunned big-spending Rangers in the final of the Ramsdens Cup.

John Baird wrote his name into Kirkcaldy folklore with the extra-time winner, securing a 1-0 triumph at a packed, raucous Easter Road.

Matthews still recalls the champagne-soaked celebrations in the dressing room — albeit he wasn’t old enough to indulge in a bit of the bubbly — and the impromptu photo call with the trophy.

Matthews, third from the left, enjoys the celebrations
Matthews, third from the left, enjoys the celebrations

He and fellow promising kids Lewis Vaughan and David Bates were among those who got their hands on the silverware.

And the combative midfielder insists the prospect of winning the SPFL Trust Trophy in 2022 means as much to the current squad as defeating Rangers did to the class of 2014.

‘Brilliant day’

“I was there when Raith Rovers won the competition against Rangers,” Matthews told Courier Sport.

“It was my first ever year on the books at Raith Rovers and I was just one of the young boys in the stand watching the game.

“But I was involved in all the celebrations in the changing room. There’s a picture up at Stark’s Park, with me and Lewis Vaughan and David Bates — the young boys giving it big licks at the back.

“I was loving getting the pictures with the trophy. There was night out in Kirkcaldy after the game which, because I was pretty young, we couldn’t enjoy it quite as much as the first-team lads did!

“It was a brilliant day and, because it was Rangers, it was such a big deal in the media. Maybe people don’t feel like the competition means as much now, but it’s just as big for us.

“I’ve always wanted to be part of a successful team; one that is remembered fondly and has its own pictures up at Stark’s Park. Hopefully, this can be another step towards that.”

Making up for lost time

It should be noted that Raith Rovers are technically the current co-holders of the competition.

John McGlynn’s charges defeated Partick Thistle in the semi-final of the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup to reach the 2019/20 showpiece.

However, that final would never be played due to the Covid outbreak and Rovers shared the prize with fellow finalists Inverness.

“The fact we didn’t get to play the final when we last reached it is an extra incentive,” continued Matthews. “I mean, we’ve technically won half a Challenge Cup — but it’s not quite the same!

Raith Rovers fans celebrate reaching a final that would never be played
Raith Rovers fans celebrate reaching a final that would never be played

“I still remember really looking forward to that final. There was a real belief in our dressing room that it could be a special end to the season; beat Inverness in the final and win the title.

“Winning a double with Raith would have been incredible.”

Catalyst

Meanwhile, Matthews believes reaching the SPFL Trust Trophy final could kick-start Raith’s promotion push, with the Fifers currently enduring a 10-match winless streak in the Championship.

“I know we are in a sticky patch but this is a club going in the right direction,” added Matthews. “There is still time for us to have a really memorable end to the season.

“Wednesday, and potentially reaching a cup final, could be exactly the catalyst we need.

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