The William Hill Scottish Cup reaches the second round stage tomorrow and I'm looking forward to taking another step towards May's showpiece final on my personal ‘Road to Hampden’.

 

The Second Round is where SPFL clubs enter the fray for the first time, with the ten sides from League Two all in action.

 

I deliberated long and hard about where to point my sat nav this weekend, with the Border-derby-of-sorts at Shielfield between Berwick Rangers and Hawick Royal Albert a strong contender.

 

I'm a West Lothian boy so the local junior v senior clash between Linlithgow Rose and Stirling Albion also carried some appeal, especially with the varied Prestonfield pie selection being an attraction all of its own.

 

But instead, I've plumped for a long drive north to the Moray coast, where the Buckie Thistle v Gretna 2008 tie joins Cullen - home of Cullen Skink soup - and that iconic phone box from 'Local Hero', amongst the local attractions on Saturday afternoon.

 

I've never been to Buckie itself and the surrounding area is a corner of the country I've seldom visited, getting as close as Keith and Elgin - a few miles inland - during past football travels.

 

If that's not justification for a 400 mile round trip then I don't know what is...

 

It's also a chance to visit Victoria Park where an old acquaintance, Easton Thain, was programme editor for many years.  Easton was a regular at Meadowbank games for a while before moving back to his hometown.

 

Like the rest of the Buckie Thistle faithful, I'm sure he'll be delighted with the start his side have made to this season.  After finishing mid-table in the Highland League last term, they've been virtually unstoppable at the start of this one and currently top the table.

 

They go into Saturday's tie unbeaten in fourteen league games with an average goal haul approaching an impressive five per game.  Other than East Kilbride's peerless Lowland League side, there can't be a more in-form side in Scottish football at the moment.

 

So it looks like a tough ask for Gretna, who have had an inconsistent start in the Lowland League.

 

Born out of the ashes of the original Brooks Mileson fuelled club, Gretna will no doubt take heart from the fact that in the north v south clashes in the first round, it was the Lowland League clubs that generally came out on top.

 

They disposed of Deveronvale by a comfortable 3-0 margin in Banff, just along the road from Buckie, ensuring that their epic bus trip back to Raydale Park was a happy one.

 

Thistle were emphatic 6-0 victors at Inverurie and while it would take a brave man to bet against the green and white hooped Jags this time round, it is the Scottish Cup and you just never know.

 

David Stoker

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