Proving the doubters wrong spurred Raith Rovers on to Ramsdens Cup success at Easter Road, emotional goal hero John Baird has said.
The 28-year-old striker’s goal three minutes before the end of extra-time proved decisive in Sunday’s final against Rangers and sparked wild celebrations among the Rovers faithful which lasted long into the night.
And Baird admits the strike which secured only the Kirkcaldy club’s second ever national cup win will go a long way to finally answering the critics of both him personally and those who cast aspersions on Raith’s cup ambitions.
Fighting back the tears, Baird told Courier Sport: “I don’t think there are words to describe scoring a winner against one of the Old Firm in a cup final with a minute left to play.
“It’s just a dream. These are the things you work for through your career, playing at Montrose, stuff like that, people writing you off.”
“If someone had told me a week before the transfer window closed I’d be playing in a cup final against Rangers and scoring a winner I wouldn’t have believed them because I was at a low because I wasn’t playing football,” said Baird.
“So this is just unbelievable. What a team effort to play one of the Old Firm in a cup final and to take them to extra time.
“Everyone wrote us off. You looked at the papers this morning and we were written off as well and quite rightly so.
“That’s a team with Premiership players. They’ve been cherry picked to come and win finals and take Rangers where they have to go.
“That was a big day in Rangers history today and we were the ones to stop them. Rangers were overwhelming favourites but that gave us something, we spoke about it on the bus.
“We wanted to go out and prove we wanted to be on that stage today. The build-up to the game was all Rangers, Rangers, Rangers.
“And to be fair their support were excellent. Some of them even stayed and watched us lift the cup.
“Credit to them. If it wasn’t for them it wouldn’t have been the spectacle it was.”
Baird’s goal sent the Rovers fans and management team into raptures, with the striker admitting he feared the game was going down to a penalty shoot-out.
“I was actually worried about penalty kicks, I thought: ‘I need to score here because I am not taking a penalty kick’,” he added.
“I didn’t fancy myself, I had cramp in two calves and my groins and I was thinking: ‘here we go’.”