The finish line is in sight for Kelty Hearts.
This is why they left the Juniors set-up in 2017; it is why they have invested in their playing squad; it is why they have brought their New Central Park home into the 21st century with a brand new stand and state-of-the art synthetic surface.
The Maroon Machine fully intend to motor into the SPFL and, after weeks of fearing that they would be denied that opportunity, Barry Ferguson’s men will take to the field at Dudgeon Park with that goal in sight.
Last week saw Kelty and Brora finally given the green light to square off for the right to play Brechin City for a place in League 2, with the first leg in the Highlands on Tuesday evening before the return in Fife on Saturday.
A star-studded squad, including Kallum Higginbotham, Nathan Austin and Tam Scobbie, managed by a former Rangers and Scotland skipper, seems ready-made for league football.
But everyone within the club is aware that they must prove that on the grass.
“It think this opportunity justifies our decision to leave the junior set-up when we did,” said club secretary Garry Grandison. “We are an ambitious club and have given ourselves a chance — but that’s all it is.
“We are just happy that it will be decided on the football pitch.”
Not before time.. ⚽️⚽️ looking forward to these games! https://t.co/p8dWJzp7eC
— Darren Jamieson (@deejay150291) April 29, 2021
That feeling was reciprocated among the playing squad when the fixture was finally confirmed, with Andy Rodgers, Darren Jamieson and Dylan Easton among those to make their delight clear on social media.
This feels like a long-time coming for those within the Kelty dressing room, given they claimed the Lowland League title last season only for the pyramid playoffs to be cancelled amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
They played 13 games this term before the league was declared on a points-per-game (PPG) basis but, given their efforts of last season, the feeling within the club is that they were owed this opportunity.
The same can be said of Brora, who claimed the Highland League title last season and were handed the trophy on PPG after completing just three fixtures this term — winning them all.
Both clubs have been back training for an extended period, shelling out around £2,500-per-week for COVID-19 testing to ensure they would be ready for their shot at glory.
Yet, the danger that this tie may not go ahead was an ever-present spectre at the feast.
“The players and the management team have been absolutely outstanding,” Grandison added. “Barry [Ferguson] has a brilliant group of boys and they way they’ve handled this period of uncertainty speaks volumes for the group.”
It will, however, be a leap into the unknown for Kelty, who overcame South of Scotland League side Threave Rovers to win promotion from the East of Scotland League to the Lowland League in 2018.
They have never participated in the pyramid playoffs, despite the vast top-level pedigree within their ranks.
Brora Rangers, meanwhile, took part in the first iteration of the process in 2014/15. The Cattachs defeated Edinburgh City to reach the pyramid playoff final only to lose out 3-2 on aggregate to Montrose.
A certain Marvin Andrews — former Ibrox teammate of Kelty boss Ferguson — scored in the decisive second leg.
Brora also flexed their muscles in March when they defeated Hearts 2-1 in the Scottish Cup, belying the fact the Jambos had been finalists in the previous two campaigns.
Jordan Macrae and Martin MacLean rippled the net on the most famous night in the club’s history; and one which will serve as a warning to ambitious Kelty.