Doug Tharme says he and his Accrington Stanley team-mates go into the League One clash with Derby County knowing it is a big occasion - but treating it like another game.
The defender, on loan from Blackpool, has held down a regular place in the Reds side since mid-August and admits he is enjoying life at the Wham Stadium after re-finding his love for football last season.
The 23-year-old played in front of the biggest crowd he has ever played in front of last week, 15,065, in the 3-0 loss at Plymouth and says the scoreline didn’t reflect the performance.
There were plenty of positives and they will take only them into the clash with Derby County, who are steeped in history and were champions of Division One in 1972 and 1975 under Brian Clough.
They were relegated last season and appointed Paul Warne as boss two games ago and lie just one point above the Reds.
“The biggest thing to take from Plymouth is going to top of the league, they are flying and have had a really good run of results, and we matched them,” said Tharme.
“We were caught out in moments. They finished their moments, we didn’t, but it wasn’t that we got battered, I thought it was a sound performance.
“We have got to believe in ourselves and trust each other. There is a great group of players here, talent-wise and mentally, and there is belief in each other and ourselves.
“We know if players get the opportunities against Plymouth again, I back them and they back themselves, and so we need to keep going and focus on Derby.
“It’s exciting playing against Derby.
“They were in the Championship last year and you want to try and test yourself against the best.
“We don’t look at any club and think they are out of reach. They are fair game, they are on the same pitch as us, the same amount of players, the same time to prepare as we have so you have 90 minutes to give it a good go.
“We want to win, especially at home, and so will go at them the same as every team which is, if you want to come and win here, you are going to have to earn it and it won’t be easy. I think we have a very good chance of winning this game.”
Tharme admits he has come a long way in the last few years, after playing non-league football and then making a big impact at Southport last season from where Blackpool snapped him up.
“I love my job, it’s a strange one as I have had a big perspective over the last couple of years. I fell back in love with football and I put that down to Southport last season and the people who were there.
“It reminded me that football is a game, it is massive to the community, but fundamentally it’s a 90 minute game of people kicking the ball around and it’s there to be enjoyed and savoured.
“There is a legacy to preserve here, I look at the people who have played here previously and the teams who have been successful.
“It’s not as if Accrington have always been a punching bag, they are successful in their own right and so when you put the shirt on, you do it with pride.
“Even though I have only been here a couple months I realise that strong sense of community, recently we have done the school shirt giveaway, it’s for us to play for the fans and Saturday is another opportunity for us to try and win the game for them.
“These bigger games, if you will, are just a bigger occasion to enjoy the game we love.”
The full pre-match interview with Doug Tharme is available to watch on the club's official YouTube channel, CLICK HERE to find out more!