As the dates and participating clubs for the 2015/16 William Hill Scottish Cup were announced this week, one club had extra reason to be excited.

Harestanes Amateur Football Club will enter at the preliminary round stage after historic criteria changes – announced at this month’s Scottish FA AGM - granted entry to the Scottish Amateur Cup winners.

Edinburgh side Lothian Thistle HV and Dumfries & Galloway’s Wigtown & Bladnoch have also benefitted from the changes that will see the East of Scotland, South of Scotland and Amateur Cup champions enter at the qualifying stages from this year onwards.

Ian Colston - President of Harestanes AFC – praised the criteria shake-up and said the opportunity to play against ‘the big boys’ is a dream come true for the Kirkintilloch-based outfit.

Speaking to the Scottish FA, Ian said: “Winning the Scottish Amateur Cup was fantastic and to find out we’ve got a chance to actually take part in the William Hill Scottish Cup, it’s brilliant for Harestanes and everyone associated with the club.”

“The new criteria are brilliant and it’s a real incentive for any team to win the Scottish Amateur Cup Final - to know that they’ll then take part in the big Scottish cup.

“I got an e-mail from the Scottish FA detailing when the first preliminary round would be and who would be in it. There are certainly some names that have been associated with the Scottish Cup for years, so it’s quite exciting to see Harestanes in there as well.”

Founded by a group of friends in 1981, Harestanes AFC have rising through the amateur ranks to become one of the Central regions most prolific teams. They clinched a league and cup double in 2014/15 and will now make history as the first team to qualify for the William Hill Scottish Cup as Amateur Cup winners.

Ian added: “It’s fantastic for the club and also a wee bit of history. So we’re really pleased to have our name in the draw.

“It’s brilliant for the boys. They’re all amateurs but it’s a wee bit of an opportunity to rub shoulders with the big guys, depending on the luck of the draw.

Keep your eyes on the Scottish FA website over the coming days as we profile more teams who’ll be making their Scottish Cup debut in 2015/16.

You can see a full list of the clubs involved and their entry stages here