In each round of the William Hill Scottish Cup this season, the Scottish FA has had a guest blogger attend a match to document their experience.
This weekend Ayr United take on Clyde in the Fifth Round and long-time Ayr fan and broadcasting stalwart Willie Shields now tells his story and looks ahead to the match.
The 86-year-old has supported The Honest Men for 79 years and commentated on home matches for Ayr Hospital Radio since 1954.
Born in 1930, Willie has watched the footballing landscape change from behind the microphone in the broadcasting studio at Somerset Park, stationed above the gymnasium in the away end.
Shields reflects on more than 60 years behind the microphone
My earliest memory of hot-footing it along to Somerset Park was back in 1938 when my Dad and I went along to see his relative, Hugh McConnell, play for Ayr.
That was when I caught the bug and I’ve been heading along ever since. Somerset Park was different then with fencing round the pitch and a steep open terracing that seemed to tower over the players. The hospitality suite now sits in that spot.
At that age, all I remember was Ayr playing in their black and white hoops and me cheering when everyone else did.
I used to go regularly with my Dad and Grandfather, who was dedicated to Ayr and frequently joked about the rivalry with Kilmarnock, refusing to drink Johnnie Walker Whisky due to its heritage.
During the war football took a break and afterwards Ayr were moved down a division for some reason, which is definitely a longstanding gripe of mine.
In 1954 I was introduced to the world of commentary. The hospital radio broadcasting team had been running for five years previously with a few guys sitting in the stand passing a microphone between them.
They decided to build a studio in the corner of the ground and with me being an electrician by trade, I helped set up the electrics in it.
Before I knew it I was Vice Chair of the Broadcasting Committee and after the Chair passed away a few years later, I’ve been in the hot seat ever since.
Four of us commentate every Saturday and we split it up between us. We do 15-minute spells each with another one filling out the ‘crime sheet’, updating fouls, sending-offs goalscorers and corners.
We commentate for three hospitals, Ailsa, Ayr and Biggart, as well as a few visually impaired supporters who have religiously turned up and sit in the main stand to listen to us.
Some of them have been attending for more than 30 years.
Back in the 80s, our manager at the time, George Caldwell, was in hospital and his only way of following the game was listening to us. We didn’t know he was listening at the time but it was funny hearing that he was having to rely on us for updates.
On Saturday we’re in Scottish Cup action against Clyde and I have fond memories of the competition. There’s always an added buzz around with the prospect of a visit to Hampden.
The furthest we have gone is the semi-finals and I remember playing Rangers in April 1973. We lost 2-0 and we had a goal disallowed.
The Scottish Cup always makes memories, especially when we’re drawn with Kilmarnock. Andy Walker’s chipped penalty in 1999 in a 3-0 win caught everyone by surprise and the celebrations were quite loud in our studio.
Clyde have a few former Ayr players in their ranks including our former Captain Scott McLaughlin. We had a good start to the season but have not won in the league for a while, despite playing well and showing a lot of fight and desire.
We’ve had some good draws so far in the Cup and I’m looking forward to the match on Saturday. I hope we can reach the Quarter-Finals, but as I am quite used to, there could well be disappointment come 4.45pm.