Friday, March 19, 2010

Co-operative Insurance Cup Final

Despite the many compelling and intriguing patterns that Scottish football has managed to weave over the years the business end of our game is essentially a two tone intarsia. The Old Firm win things. St Mirren don't.

Only twice in their history have Rangers lost a League Cup final to anyone but Celtic. 25 times the trophy has gone to Ibrox from 32 finals. St Mirren lost the 1956 final to Aberdeen. And that's pretty much their League Cup history. Hell of a record in the Renfrewshire Cup, mind.

Given the pressure on their manager after a poor, poor run in the SPL and a unseemly and ill judged rammy over bonus payments, St Mirren would seem to be doing their best to turn a very difficult job into an absolutely impossible job.

But this is a cup final and shocks can happen. It's just that they tend not to in Scotland.

So what's the point in turning up to watch this Rangers walkover?

Because we're all football fans and myopic optimism is our stock in trade. And once in a while a result will come along that gives us all a warm feeling inside. A result that leaves people dancing on street of Raith.

I'm not a St Mirren fan but I will be hoping that they can upset the odds on Sunday. I suspect I'll not be alone.

Can they do it? I'd not bet on it. Maybe some of the complacency that seems to be gripping the Rangers support will filter down to the pitch and St Mirren will prevail through greater desire and hardwork. Maybe Rangers will have an off day, won't carry any luck, will lose discipline and shape. Or maybe St Mirren will just be better than them on the day.

I'd say St Mirren need to avoid losing an early goal and give themselves time to settle. They proved in the Scottish Cup at Love Street that they can upset Rangers, although they'll need to take their chances this time.

Rangers have had a couple of tricky encounters with the Buddies this season. If St Mirren can work on that nuisance factor from the start then it might begin to play on a few Rangers minds.

To listen to the head or listen to the heart? Alas I've got to go for the Rangers win, the first leg of what I think will become a treble.

But I'd probably have backed Dundee United in the 1987 Scottish Cup final. And St Mirren will find all the inspiration they need in the memories of that game.