Dunmurray Rec manager Ivor Moore knows exactly the feeling that his players will get when they walk out onto the hallowed Windsor Park turf to face Linfield this afternoon.
Moore has experience of playing many matches at Northern Ireland’s international stadium, but you won’t find any of them recorded in football history books.
He would, however, love to write a memorable chapter in the history of the Amateur League club by knocking Linfield out of the Irish Cup today — in what would be recognised as the biggest shock in the history of the competition — but he’s realistic enough to acknowledge that David Jeffrey’s team has few, if any, weaknesses.
“I grew up just at the back of Windsor Park and my parents still live in the area,” said Moore, who was the midfield general in the Rec team that won the Steel & Sons Cup and the Amateur League title in the 1998-99 season, the best season in the club’s recent history.
“In the 70s the ground wasn’t as closed in as it is now and on a Sunday we’d get in and go onto the pitch and play matches. I played some great games at Windsor Park and scored some great goals too!
“I went to watch Linfield too. Peter Rafferty was my hero, he was a Linfield icon in the 70s and given his image and stature he was an instantly recognisable figure.
“He was also a very good player. I’m old enough to remember Sammy Pavis playing as well and he was an outstanding goalscorer.”
The Ashley Park boys were well on their way to the sixth round of the competition when they led Amateur League rivals Kilmore Red 2-0 in the previous stage, only to end up needing a replay.
Moore, however, feared that it would be the Irish FA that would deny his team a crack at Linfield rather than Kilmore — who they eventually defeated 5-0 at the second time of asking, with Ricky Rutherford netting a hat-trick.
An error in the draw — when the number 10 was called out twice — caused some embarrassment, but thankfully things were corrected quite quickly, there was no need for anything to be changed and the Rec ultimately got their big day.
“I thought that they were going to have to do the draw over again and we’d have a potential tie against Linfield taken away from us,” said Moore.
“A few of us from the club went down to the Culloden Hotel when the draw was made for the previous round and we were disappointed to get Kilmore — and they were disappointed to get us.
“When you get to the stage where the senior teams come in you want one of the big clubs. It took us an extra round, but we’ve ended up with the biggest one we could get.”
Irish Cup holders Linfield — who have won the trophy four times in the last five seasons — have a Setanta Sports Cup meeting with Dundalk on Monday night and with a large squad at his disposal manager David Jeffrey may hand some of his top players an afternoon off.
Whatever 11 runs out in Linfield Blue, however, is likely to boast a fair collection of cup winners medals between them.
“Regardless of which players David Jeffrey picks they are still going to be good. They’re the best team in the country and have been for the last five or six years,” said Moore.
“I don’t think they have a weakness anywhere, but I’ve spoken to a few people I know in the Irish League who have played them recently and there might be one or two areas that we can try to work on.”
“All we can do is try to put on a good show and match them as best we can.”
Moore has lived in Dunmurry for most of his adult life and is happy to be ‘home’ in footballing terms.
“Dunmurry Rec has always been my club I suppose,” said Moore.
“I had good times as a player and won the league and Steel & Sons Cup in 1999. To come back and manage the club was always something I thought I’d like to do, but I turned the job down a couple of years before I took it.
“That 1998-99 season was one of great excitement all the way through.
“This game against Linfield is exciting, there’s a real buzz around the club, but it’s a one-off and very different to when you win things, because the excitement lasts longer.”