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Past Times

Shock and awe in the Scottish Cup – giant-killing acts loom large in competition’s history

Graeme Strachan
Fraserburgh FC celebrate defeating Dundee in the Scottish Cup back in 1959. Image: DC Thomson.
Fraserburgh FC celebrate defeating Dundee in the Scottish Cup back in 1959. Image: DC Thomson.

Ever since David defied all the odds by slaying Goliath, back in the days of the Old Testament, giant-killing acts have always gripped the public imagination.

That Biblical imagery is rolled out every year at the Scottish Cup Fourth Round weekend, which has a habit of throwing up against-the-odds results in the lions’ den.

Just ask Aberdeen FC as they continue to nurse their wounds!

The Dundee United Community Trust, Grey Lodge and St Andrews Football Memories groups got together at the Hegarty Suite at Tannadice to discuss giant-killings.

The members got together to discuss some of the biggest giant-killings. Image: Gareth Jennings/DC Thomson.

George Laidlaw, Tayside & Fife regional co-ordinator for Football Memories, said: “Hearts top the charts with at least three, Aberdeen, Celtic, Kilmarnock and Rangers with two, with Dundee, St Johnstone, Motherwell and Hibs in the mix.

“They provide a reminder of the power of knock-out competitions and supporters might wish to avert their gaze as we enter football’s very own version of the Twilight Zone!”

2023: Darvel 1-0 Aberdeen

Darvel players celebrate in the changing room after a famous win against Aberdeen. Image: SNS.

Aberdeen crashed to the worst defeat in the club’s proud 120-year history when losing 1-0 at minnows Darvel.

Embarrassed in Ayrshire, Darvel are in the West of Scotland Football League Premier Division, the sixth tier of Scottish football.

The part-timers made a mockery of that five-league gap as they sent the Reds crashing out the Scottish Cup.

2022: Kelty Hearts 1-0 St Johnstone

The holders crashed out of the Scottish Cup in embarrassing fashion against League Two side Kelty Hearts in the fourth round at Central Park.

Kallum Higginbotham’s extra-time strike sealed the part-timers’ stunning victory and heaped more pressure on Saints manager Callum Davidson.

Kelty lost to St Mirren in the next round.

2021: Brora Rangers 2-1 Hearts

The Highland League champions ousted Robbie Neilson’s Championship leaders Hearts in this thrilling clash.

Jordan MacRae fired Brora into the lead before former Scotland international Christophe Berra drew the Jambos men level with 20 minutes left.

It was expected that Hearts would go on to claim victory.

However, Martin MacLean grabbed Brora’s winner to dump Hearts out.

2013: Albion Rovers 1-0 Motherwell

In 2013, under Stuart McCall, the Steelmen were knocked out of the Scottish Cup by League Two Albion Rovers.

Gary Phillips slammed in a 93rd minute winner at New Douglas Park.

Well started the match an incredible 37 league places above their Lanarkshire rivals.

2000: Celtic 1-3 Inverness Caley Thistle

The Highland part-timers came to Celtic Park and went home with a result that cost Hoops manager John Barnes his job

It took just 16 minutes for Barry Wilson to put the visitors ahead with a well-taken header from a cross delivered by Paul Sheerin.

Mark Burchill scored a minute later to briefly restore equilibrium, but Lubomir Moravcik gifted Caley the lead by deflecting Bobby Mann’s header past his own keeper.

Sheerin subsequently put the tie beyond any doubt 10 minutes into the second half by calmly slotting home a penalty.

Super Caley Go Ballistic Celtic Are Atrocious became one of the most famous British tabloid newspaper headlines of all time and the result became world news.

1995: Stenhousemuir 2-0 Aberdeen

Dons defender Brian Irvine in action against Stenhousemuir during the Scottish Cup defeat. Image: DC Thomson.

Before Darvel there was Stenhousemuir!

Former Celtic star Roy Aitken had just stepped into the manager’s role at Pittodrie, and launched his reign with a home win against Rangers.

Dairy farmer Tommy Steele pushed his side in front, then as the crowd roared their enthusiasm while the visitors desperately chased an equaliser, he repeated the dose from a corner and there was no way back for the north-east club which, just a decade earlier, had made a habit of winning major trophies.

1987: Rangers 0-1 Hamilton

Hamilton’s Adrian Sprott (left) and Ally Brazil with Robert Fleck during the match. Image: SNS.

Giant killer Jim Lambie’s Hamilton put Graeme Souness’s star-studded Rangers to the sword.

They travelled to Ibrox with the knowledge that Chris Woods hadn’t conceded a goal in 1,196 minutes of play – a British record – but the England international lost that distinction when Adrian Sprott popped up to put the underdogs in front in the 70th minute.

Rangers went on to win the title and Hamilton were relegated.

1984: East Fife 2-0 Hibernian

The East Fife team pictured in 1984. Image: DC Thomson.

Hibs drew at Easter Road, so went to Methil for a replay and were even worse!

The Bayview side went ahead in the first half through Tom McCafferty and local hero Stevie Kirk rose to bullet a header into the net for the second, clinching goal.

1967: Berwick Rangers 1-0 Rangers

A goal from former Motherwell striker Sammy Reid in the 32nd minute meant the Ibrox giants went out in the first round for the first time in their history.

Jock Wallace, who went on to be a legendary boss of Rangers, was the Berwick goalkeeper-manager and a man whose rhetoric could make players feel 10 feet tall.

1959: Fraserburgh 1-0 Dundee

Dundee supporter Alastair Robertson reflecting on the Dark Blues cup upset. Image: Gareth Jennings/DC Thomson.

Dundee were just three years away from winning the Scottish championship title.

But, pitted against the Broch, they were victims of arguably the greatest Scottish Cup shock to that point. The home side scored just a minute before the interval, and hung on resolutely and resiliently for the most famous victory of their lives – and the maiden Highland League success against top-tier opponents – despite a late onslaught.

The scorer of the winner was Johnny Strachan, a gas board clerk.

Was 1994 really a Scottish Cup shock?

Ivan Golac helped deliver Dundee United’s first Scottish Cup in 1994. Image: SNS.

One result which was discussed was the 1994 Scottish Cup final where Dundee United defeated Walter Smith’s all-conquering Rangers side 1-0 at Hampden.

George explained: “This was more of a surprise than an upset after falling at the final hurdle so many times!

“The Arabs finally dumped their Scottish Cup final hoodoo and wrecked Rangers back to back treble hopes. The trophy was won by a bizarre goal by Craig Brewster.

“No-one from Dundee cared. Boss Ivan Golac’s last match in charge would be a 1-2 defeat to Hearts in the Scottish Cup on March 12 1995, less than 12 months later when he left by mutual consent.”

The participants are pictured with the Scottish Cup during the event. Image: Gareth Jennings/DC Thomson.

The Scottish Cup was transported from Hampden to Tannadice by Richard McBrearty, curator of the Scottish Football Museum and project director of Football Memories.

Richard said: “These visits are so important to the Scottish Football Association.

“We try to get the cup out to our Football Memories groups as often as possible.

“The work that the volunteers do is fantastic. We have over 600 groups across the country and they all give their own time to provide these sessions.

Tom Rice and Joe Boag with the Scottish Cup at the event. Image: Gareth Jennings/DC Thomson.

“It is worth it just to see the look on their faces as they get the chance to lay their hands on the third oldest trophy in the world.

“This is an important year as the trophy was first competed for 150 years ago.”