Scottish Cup Final Special
Today at Hampden Park in Glasgow, the oldest national football trophy in the world will be presented to the victorious captain at the end of the final of the Scottish Football Association Challenge Cup. Eighty teams will have been eliminated over the course of eight rounds of the tournament by the time the winning team receives the prize and parades it to their rapturous supporters.
For reasons which have never been made clear to me, there is a mysterious requirement nowadays to distract attention from the presentation by means of a mass orgy of litter-dropping so millions of tiny pieces of foil are scattered over the playing field while the players are dwarfed by irrelevant, forty-feet-high inflatable figures, pumped full of hot gases.
Simultaneously, the stadium public address system attempts to overwhelm the spontaneous celebrations of the crowd by playing tedious recordings of generic team anthems. These are invariably far better and much more in keeping with the spirit of the occasion when they are sung unaccompanied by the crowd at the tempo and pitch of their own choosing. There is something distinctly sinister afoot when these control freaks can get away with drowning out the sound of a joyous football crowd at the climax of a major tournament.
I’m old school, I am.
It’s always a downer when your team gets knocked out of the Cup. The disappointment of losing a cup tie is compounded by the realisation that when the teams run out onto the park on the day of the final, with tens of thousands of supporters cheering in anticipation, your own team’s season will have already finished. For Kilmarnock there is some consolation today in that they can still savour the taste of their recent League Cup victory, which is the next best thing, so today’s Hampden occasion will be more likely to remind them of their finest achievement in many years. For Celtic, the league champions, the Scottish Cup would have been an extra treat but the return of the SPL trophy to Celtic Park was always a higher priority than a successful defence of the trophy. Everyone else will watch the game, wondering what might have been and hoping that next year it will be their team in the spotlight for the show-piece finale to the season. (Note to Rangers supporters: Not you lot. This time next year you’ll no longer have a team. Bad luck.)
Here it must be said that from the point of view of the neutral supporter, the 2012 Scottish Cup final is a rather appealing dish. Jam Tarts against Cabbage and Ribs. The Edinburgh Derby. Hearts versus Hibs. As the green and maroon hordes head west along the M8 today this is a prospect which many of us thought we would never live to see; for once, it might be possible to find a parking place in Edinburgh on a Saturday. For me, however, that’s still not a good enough reason to go to Auld Reekie.
For Hibs supporters, today’s final is probably a once in a lifetime occasion because the Hibees only win one Scottish Cup in each century. Those supporters who are under the age of one hundred and ten – which may well be the majority of them – missed the opportunity to be amongst the 16,000 crowd which saw Andy McGeachan score the only goal of the 1902 final. (A suspicion of offside, I thought, from where I was standing but it was a hard one to call.) Could this be the moment when the men from Leith finally equal Vale of Leven’s proud record of three (3) Scottish Cup successes? Or will they collect their tenth set of runners-up medals and keep the Scottish Cup interest alive for the rest of the century?
Hearts will obviously be hot favourites, having won all of their previous Scottish Cup finals against Hibs as well as every Edinburgh derby in the league since colour television was introduced. Even though Lee Wallace is still mysteriously unavailable, all they really have to do is turn up on the day, play their normal game and the Cup will be theirs for the taking. Therefore they will probably choke, throw away a couple of goals in the last few minutes and burst into tears when the final whistle blows.
I’m actually looking forward to watching this game. A Scottish Cup final between Hibs and Hearts in front of a capacity crowd is undoubtedly an attractive fixture and will make for very good television. Those who are unfortunate enough to have tickets for the game itself can tune in to the radio coverage to find out what is happening on the pitch or follow twitter for regular updates. One or two of the lucky ones might even have seats from which it is possible to see the game, especially if they can catch sight of one of the television monitors. Come what may, both teams will be relieved that they haven’t also made it to the final of the Champions League, with all the travel issues and logistical problems which that could have caused, especially if this afternoon’s game goes to extra time and penalties.
A very wise man recently pointed out how much money Scottish clubs have lost out on over the last decade and a half through the skulduggery with dual contracts over at Ibrox stadium. In Hibernian’s case, the figure is anywhere between a minimum of £3.6 million up to a potential sum of £34.8 million. Hearts have been even harder done by. They have lost out on a minimum of £6.2 million and a top figure of an eye-watering £72.3 million. If the two Edinburgh clubs had actually received the prize money which their own, honest efforts had entitled them to, the line-ups at Hampden Park today would probably look very different. Who can say that players such as Scott Brown, Craig Gordon, Gary Caldwell, Ricardo Fuller or Steven Whittaker would not be turning out today if £100 million had found its rightful home over the last few years? What other players might either side have signed with that kind of money? Is it out of the question that one of today’s finalists might have been taking to the field today with a chance of doing the Double? Answers on the back of a dual contract please.
I recently tried, unsuccessfully, to register on a Hibernian forum to invite their supporters to name a possible starting XI which Hibs might have fielded today if they’d had the benefit of a few tens of millions of pounds to strengthen their playing squad. If any of them read this blog, I’d ask them to speculate in the comments section below and I’m putting the same question to the Jambos with regard to their team. Mind you, I suspect I haven’t timed this request very well since they may have better things to attend to today.
Let’s hope for a splendid final which shows the Scottish game in a good light. Let’s all enjoy the occasion and hope for a memorable climax to a season in which the three major domestic trophies will find homes in the trophy rooms of three different clubs. Let us also take note of the fact that there will be a capacity crowd for a final which has caught the imagination of most of the Scottish football-following public. This will give us our first glimpse of the promising future of our domestic game, freed from the malign and corrupt influence of the tax-dodging, account-fiddling, dual-contract-peddling vampire club from Ibrox.
Today is a memorable day for the capital city’s clubs. I hope their supporters make the most of it and I hope all of us are treated to an excellent and exciting cup final.
Posted on May 19, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged cabbage, Celtic, CQN, Edinburgh, football, Hampden, Hampden Park, Heart of Midlothian, Hearts, Henry Clarson, Hibees, Hibernian, Hibs, jam tarts, Jambos, Kilmarnock, Rangers, Scotland, Scottish Cup, Scottish football, SPL. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.