FEW thought we would be sitting here still with a fighting chance. But we remain alive.
Contrary to all popular belief and everything that has gone before, Caley Thistle can survive. They are not dead.
Some had chucked the towel in weeks ago, resigned to life in the second tier. Doom and gloom could well have replaced pride of the Highlands as the club’s unofficial mantra.
But, owing to some good fortune and blind determinism, in the face of surmounting odds, the Caley Thistle fans can cling on to one last bit of hope that maybe, just maybe, the greatest of escapes is possible.
That is what will carry the players through tomorrow. Whole-hearted, rousing, scream-until-your-hoarse backing, pulling them from the depths and giving them fight to survive for at least another week.
Park all your concerns at the door. Forget what has gone before. The season has gone to nobody’s plan. It has tetered on the brink of disaster for a while. But it hasn’t gone.
The time for recriminations will come. Explanations will be needed as to why things have unfolded the way they have. But for 90 minutes tomorrow afternoon, come together as one, be the 12th man and be part of something special.
How could you not want to turn round in years to come and say ‘I was there’, the day Caley Thistle defied the odds once more. Relegation is a different beast from Scotland’s football giants but it is one that can be slain nonetheless.
The passion and desire drum has been beaten on many an occasion this season. Sometimes the players have responded to the rhythm, sometimes they haven’t. They will have no option but to tomorrow.
Cementing your place in folklore, knowing that your name and actions will be remembered for years to come. That’s what awaits the players tomorrow. Ask David Raven and James Vincent how those unforgettable Scottish Cup moments felt. They make for legends.
Motivation will come in many forms. Some will play for personal pride, knowing they owe it to themselves to put things right once and for all. Some will play for colleagues and friends, knowing livelihoods and futures are at stake.
There will be a great deal of them that will play to make their families proud. Loved ones will be watching on, either in person or from afar. Those with young children at home – think of being able to walk in the front door tomorrow night and be told: “Daddy, you were a hero today”.
Get in there! Boys showed some massive coconuts tonight on to Saturday— Carl Tremarco (@tommytremarco3) May 17, 2017
That dressing room is not short of characters; ones that will happily pick up the baton and drag their team, kicking and screaming, over the line.
Everyone, players, staff and fans, need to come together as one and make tomorrow as ferocious, heart-stopping and unforgettable as possible. If somehow it does not come off, no-one could accuse the club of disappearing without a boisterous farewell.
It may only give the Caley Jags a week’s reprieve. But that is a week few of us expected to see.