Carrick Rangers boss Gary Haveron insists his team don’t intend to simply make up the numbers when they face Crusaders in a mouth-watering Irish Cup quarter final tie at Seaview on Saturday.
Even though the Championship One club come up against the country’s in-form side, the former Ballymena United hard man intends to make the most of the occasion.
“All the pressure is on Crusaders,” says Haveron. “We can go there and play with a certain degree of freedom. The expectation is on the home team.
“It’s 15 years since Carrick Rangers last appeared in an Irish Cup quarter final. It’s a big ask, there is no doubt about that. The game helps put us on the map a little bit, so we are going there to enjoy it.”
Haveron believes that Crusaders have set standard in terms of their Premiership status, adding “They have led the way in terms of progression in recent years.
“I played against them the season they were relegated. Lesser clubs would have possibly folded. Instead, they came back, bigger and strong, on and off the pitch.
“They are a great example to all other clubs. Stephen Baxter and his backroom staff have done a fantastic job with the team. But there is a solid foundation there because it is a club with a sound Boardroom.”
Rangers approach the game in the best possible shape, with 12 straight wins under their belts.
“I’m happy with our form,” adds Haveron. “We’ve lost only twice this season - one was against Cliftonville in the League Cup and the other was against H & W Welders, but we had seven players missing on that occasion. It’s a massive step up for us in terms of quality, there is no question about that.
“We had three aims at the start of the season. Promotion to the Premiership topped the agenda. Winning the Steel & Sons Cup was a close second and an Irish Cup run was also in our thoughts.
“We’ve the Steel Cup in the Boardroom and we are well placed in the league, even though we are quite a few games behind. So we now have an opportunity of keeping our Irish Cup dream alive.
“All three bring huge financial rewards and that is of massive importance to our club.”
Haveron stresses it will be an emotional day for everyone following the death of secretary Charlie Johnston earlier this week. He passed away after a long battle against illness.
“Charlie was a huge inspiration not only to the Board but also to the players,” added Haveron. “From that day that I walked into the club, he was nothing but a gentleman. He always acted with great dignity and he had a kind word for everyone.
“We have a family club and Charlie made everyone so welcome. His passing is a massive blow.
“He was in failing health, but he took time to text me on Christmas morning, actually apologising he couldn’t make the Steel final. I promised him I’d bring him the trophy.
“Thankfully, the chairman, Davy Hilditch and I were able to keep that promise; we took the trophy to him that night. Needless to say, he was thrilled.”
Rangers will be missing the influential Ben Roy due to suspension. Otherwise they will be a full strength.