This season a guest blogger has travelled to one game of each round of the William Hill Scottish Cup to tell their experiences of the competition, and describe what makes it Unrivalled.
This weekend the Fourth Round takes place, and former footballer Andrew Barrowman is Firhill bound to watch Highland League side Formartine United take on Alan Archibald’s Partick Thistle.
Having recently retired from the game, Barrowman has played for numerous clubs across the length and breadth of the country.
Now his aims are to work in the business world of sport, but on Saturday he’ll be taking in the magic of the William Hill Scottish Cup, having reached the latter stages of the competition as a player himself.
Barrowman looks ahead to Partick Thistle vs. Formartine United
Saturday 15th May 2010, Dundee United 3 Ross County 0. It was perhaps the biggest day in my sixteen-year professional career. Now I have officially hung up my boots, I can look back on that day with an immense sense of pride.
Despite the result, the memories I have from walking out for County to a near capacity Hampden Stadium will stay with me for the rest of my life.
This Saturday at Firhill Stadium I reacquaint myself with the oldest association trophy in world football.
Every young aspiring footballer in Scotland dreams of lifting the Scottish Cup.
As did I on many occasions, the players from Partick Thistle and Formartine United will be no different and the prospect of a trip to Hampden will undoubtedly be in the back of each of their minds.
The build up for this match for the respective teams could not have been more different. While The Jags enjoyed a three-week winter break and subsequent warm weather training camp in the plush La Manga resort, the Highland League outfit have warmed up for this match with league fixtures against Cove Rangers and Rothes.
Will the break have recharged the Premiership outfit’s batteries, or will the northern underdogs be able to capitalise on any lingering holiday mode mentality? Come five o’clock on Saturday we will have the answer.
Partick Thistle are a team I believe try to play the game in ‘the right way’. Alan Archibald was an opponent I always enjoyed a good battle with and he has his team playing a style that sees them looking to pass the ball. They are also equipped with plenty of exciting attacking players capable of providing that piece of magic to unlock defences.
A particular Partick player I have long since admired is Kris Doolan.
Arriving relatively late into the professional game from junior side Auchinleck Talbot, he has continuously scored goals year after year and his presence at Firhill cannot be underestimated.
Recently making his 250th appearance for The Jags, the unassuming ‘fox in the box’ goes about his business with minimum fuss. If Partick are to find the net on Saturday you can be sure that Kris will not be too far away from the scene.
Formartine manager Kris Hunter brings to Maryhill a squad littered with SPFL experience, including defender Craig McKeown, midfielders Paul Lawson, Jamie Masson, Derek Young, and striker Gary Woods. The manager has left no stone unturned in his preparations either, enlisting the help of Aberdeen to provide match analysis on their Scottish Cup opponents.
I’m sure Kris and his players will have enjoyed the media attention they have received this week.
The team currently sitting mid-table in the Highland League will fancy themselves to cause an upset. After all, they make the journey south with no pressure resting upon their shoulders.
Formartine midfielder Paul Lawson is a player that has graced the upper echelons of Scottish football.
‘Laws’ is a good friend of mine, and he too was part of the 2010 Ross County Scottish Cup final team. He is a great player, and it came to the surprise of many within the game when he opted to sign for Formartine after leaving Motherwell. With a fantastic range of passing and an intelligent footballing brain, I regard him as one of the best midfielders I had the pleasure of playing alongside.
I’ve no doubt Alan Archibald and his team will be well aware of the quality he possesses and will look to stop him from stamping his authority on the game come Saturday.
This tie represents everything that is great about the magic of the William Hill Scottish Cup. It is a true David v Goliath tale, and offers the chance to be a star and become a part of this great competition's folklore.
I’ve been fortunate to be involved in games like this on both ends of the spectrum, and while one set of players will go to bed on Friday night dreaming of being on the back pages come Sunday morning, the other group of players will have that little voice in their head saying, “Please don’t let us be the latest victim to the magic of the Scottish Cup.”
I’m really looking forward to taking in my first Scottish Cup game as a neutral fan on Saturday. Regardless of the result I’m sure to be in for an entertaining afternoon.
The stage is set. Hampden is in sight. May the best team win.