Sunday, May 29, 2011

Scottish Junior Cup: Musselburgh Hope Honest Toil Prevails

Scottish Junior Cup final day.

A chance for the lesser lights of our great game to shine.

I'm no expert on the Junior game (I'm not an expert on much) but geographical reasons make the chance to bandwagon jump on this one too hard to resist.

Today Musselburgh Athletic play Auchinleck Talbot. Musselburgh lies pretty much in the middle of where I live now and where I grew up.

My own geographic loyalties would probably lie with Preston Athletic - another venerable non league side from the area - but its been hard to ignore the cup fever.

The East Lothian Courier has billed it as the "the biggest football match involving an East Lothian team for a generation" and it has the classic elements of the underdog planning a coup, the David marching into battle with Goliath.

Auchinleck might be a small place but its football team are Junior cup giants. They've done more than puch above their weight in this tournament. They are the most successful side in its history. Craig Anderson does an excellent job of profiling the reasons for this on the STV Sport website.

So Musselburgh - who were battling East Superleague relegation as Auchinleck missed out to Irvine Meadow for the West Superleague title - will not be highly fancied today.

You've got to go back 50 years for an East Lothian winner of the cup. Before that victory by Dunbar Lothian there was a win back in 1923 for Musselburgh Bruntonians, predecessors of today's Athletic.

They've got the backing of the town - the Honest Toun - and the local press, Courier, East Lothian News and Edinburgh Evening News et al, are cheering on their every step.

At least one interested observer believes they've got a chance. John McGlynn, manager of Raith Rovers, is brother of Athletic's chairman Charlie and uncle of manager Davie. McGlynn himself played for the club:

"Reaching the cup final must have been a pipe dream at the start of the season but with each victory the belief starts to kick in that you're going to win. I think Musselburgh is going to be a ghost town because so many fans are travelling." (Courier)

Estimates of that support stretch between 2000 and 5000 fans making the trip to Rugby Park.

The game seems to caught imaginations, created the feel good factor that football - at every level - is so uniquely well placed to build.

Can they do it?

It's going to be tough. On their road to the final they scored over 20 goals and conceded only three. That breeds confidence.

Auchinleck Talbot remain a mighty obstacle to overcome though.

It will be a hell of a party on the banks of the Esk if they can pull it off.