Cup tied

Date: 12th January 2021

The latest blog from SFSA writer Donald Stewart:

Cup Tied…

Oh, the romance of the cup…

As the third round of the FA Cups in both Scotland and England are in the midst of being played as I write, I can hear the dulcet tones of every interviewer, pundit and presenter saying that one word – Giantkiller.

Oh, how we love that phrase – for everyone else’s club, never wur ain!

This is the heart of the romance of the competition. The Scottish FA Cup is where the winner will have played four games to win it, as they are more than likely to be a Premiership side who joins in the fourth round. However, this is a competition that started in mid August and has already seen some great ties played.

Over the years, cup competitions have been devalued as they are often won by the same teams – or same team over the last four years in Scotland – or they no longer have huge prize money or automatic qualification for a valued European Cup competition.

Since the demise of the European Cup Winners Cup in 1999, the winners of cup competitions have seen themselves entered into the UEFA Europa League instead. It is the competition that, like the Tunnock Challenge Cup in Scotland, is only important when you are doing well!

Cue tales of Manchester and Seville from supporters of the big two!

But this year, given the lack of supporters in grounds and the lack of live watchable football, there may indeed be a change. We might now have a taste for it as we are starved of any real live experience so we can start to become excited by Dundee scraping through, the giant killing of a place called Chorley or just the format that sees a result at the end of the tie… every single time…

As clubs at the top of English football use their second string or youth players to match up for their League Cup and we have tinkered with our format to find something new to do with it, that too could do with an overhaul. Well maybe not an overhaul, maybe just a tinkering. And not really in the halls of the SFA but in our own approach to it all…

For clubs below Rangers and Celtic, these competitions bring rewards in terms of likely trophies to be won, income to be generated and the opportunity of giving their supporters something about which to cheer.

In 2021, following 2020, can there be anything better?

The Scottish League Cup in 2021 sees no Rangers, St. Mirren having dispatched them and no Celtic, thanks to Ross County. Both teams struggling at the foot of the Premiership were delivered massive opportunities.

Unfortunately, County could not capitalise and Livingston knocked them out in the quarter finals, but we do have Livingston, St. Johnstone and Hibernian in the semi finals too – all four clubs with managers with a back story and an opportunity to prove themselves.

The Bet Fred Cup presents all of them with something the league will fail to provide – glory.

What’s not to love?

We are in the business end of the competition and there shall be no giant killing, but the results of the weekend of 23rd/24thJanuary will give us plenty of food for thought…

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