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Captain Ryan McGuffie urges St Albans Saints to start giant-killing run in FFA Cup against Parramatt

RYAN McGuffie has already made a name for himself by scoring on the biggest stage of Scottish football.

And the St Albans Saints captain has urged his teammates to create their own headlines when they take on Parramatta FC in Tuesday night’s FFA Cup first round match.

Playing for Gretna in the 2006 Scottish Cup final, McGuffie scored a late equaliser against Heart of Midlothian only for his side to ultimately go down on penalties.

In Queen of the South’s winning run in last year’s Scottish Challenge Cup — a knockout competition not involving Premier League clubs — McGuffie scored a quarterfinal penalty shootout goal against former Scottish giant Rangers and an extra-time winner in the semi-final against Arbroath.

But it was that 2006 final, played in front of 51,232 fans at Hampden Park, that McGuffie rates as his career highlight.

“Anybody who plays in a Scottish Cup final or an FA Cup final in England would say the same,” McGuffie said.

“They’re hard to beat because the whole occasion just engulfs you. In the weeks leading up to it it’s all you can think about and everybody in the street is talking about it.

“Then when it actually comes around, the atmosphere, the fireworks going off, it’s an amazing experience.

“To come so close was gutting, but it’s still so vivid in my memory.”

Now 34, the defensive utility is essentially retired from professional football, having come to Australia for an elongated holiday on a visitors visa.

But, through a connection with coach Toby Paterson, McGuffie took up the opportunity to play with St Albans — and he’s loving it.

The Saints, from the second tier of Victorian football, defied the odds just to qualify for the first ever FFA Cup, but McGuffie doesn’t want the team’s run to come to an end against the one-time National Soccer League side.

“You’ve got to make the most of these types of games,” he said.

The Saints have plenty of high profile support.

Richmond ruckman Ivan Maric has been the club’s No.1 ticketholder since 2012, while Tigers teammates Tyrone Vickery, Jake King and Shane Edwards have also become avid fans.

Maric spent plenty of time growing up at St Albans as his dad was a former player and administrator.

He said he dreams of one day pulling on the boots for his beloved Saints, but for now settles for watching as many of the team’s games as possible when the AFL fixture allows.

“Devastated” that he can’t make it to Parramatta to watch Tuesday night, Maric is confident his team can upset its more fancied rivals and secure a Round of 16 home game — potentially against an A-League side — that he is sure to attend.

“Everyone probably thought that Melbourne Knights would win last week but they went up to Brisbane lost,” Maric said.

“And then you see South Springvale win and do a good job, so with these cup games, with a bit of luck, you just never know.”

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