Yesterday the William Hill Scottish Cup kicked-off with Round One taking place across the country.
Over the course of this season’s competition, Scottish football fanatic David Stoker will be attending a match every round, giving his thoughts on the day overall and the magic of the cup.
Yesterday he journeyed down to Girvan for the visit of Huntly with the visitors winning 2-1 ahead of the second round which will take place tomorrow at 6pm, hosted by Cove Rangers.
Follow David on Twitter @davidstoker_lfc as he embarks on #davesfootballtravels.
The Road to Hampden – Round One
I've been watching football for the best part of thirty years and the vast majority of that time has been spent following Meadowbank Thistle, then Livingston, home and away.
I've always enjoyed taking in games as a neutral though and after a stint as a Livi director came to an end three years ago, I came to the conclusion that it was time to go 'off piste' a bit more often.
These days, I take a look ahead at the fixtures and pick whichever game takes my fancy, which I find quite liberating.
Not only can I enjoy Scottish football from the Premiership to the grassroots – and all points in between – but it's a great excuse to see corners of the country that I'd otherwise never visit.
In all my time as a football supporter, I've always held a particular interest in the Scottish Cup.
Our southern neighbours are good at talking the FA Cup up as the 'best cup competition in the world' but the history of our version is every bit as illustrious.
It's epic story includes world record wins and European record attendances, as well as scores of giant killing acts and thousands of magic moments for players and supporters of almost every club.
The Scottish Cup truly is something special. And let's not forget we're also still playing for the original trophy lifted by Queen's Park in 1874 – the world's oldest.
Last season, I decided to explore the Scottish Cup from beginning to end by watching at least one tie in every round and I probably couldn't have picked a better year to do it.
Not only was my run from Preliminary Round One to the Final packed with shock wins for Huntly, East Kilbride, Lothian Thistle, Annan Athletic and Linlithgow Rose, it ended with Hibernian breaking their long wait for a win with that dramatic last-minute winner on Cup Final day.
I enjoyed last season's journey so much that I've decided to do it all over again this year.
This year's Preliminary Round destinations included Kirkcudbright, Airdrie and Aberdeen for the St Cuthbert Wanderers v Leith Athletic, Glasgow University v Bonnyrigg Rose and Banks O'Dee v Golspie Sutherland ties respectively.
With the tournament reaching the First Round stage this weekend, I've been enlisted by the Scottish FA to share what I hope will be an action packed 'Road to Hampden' adventure culminating in the Final on May 27.
The bulk of the Highland and Lowland League clubs enter in the First Round, joining sides from 'other' leagues who successfully made it through the two Preliminary Rounds.
From the eighteen ties drawn, Girvan v Huntly emerged as the preferred option as soon as I had thumbed through my Twitter timeline to see how the draw had panned out.
My system for choosing games is pretty haphazard to be honest; this one stood out for a number of reasons: south v north, junior v senior and most significantly, I'd never been to Girvan before, unless trundling through the town en route to see Livingston play at Stranraer counts.
Girvan FC are pretty unusual in that they used to be a senior club operating in the South of Scotland League, before moving to the junior ranks in 2004.
Their Highland League opponents Huntly are a club with a decent cup pedigree – their picturesque Christie Park ground was a graveyard for various league clubs' Scottish Cup aspirations during the 1990s.
They were a dominant force locally at that point; these days they're one of the Highland League's also rans. That said, I was fortunate to see them pull a surprise win over East Stirlingshire out of the bag in the Second Round last year.
Taking all this into account I expected the game to be close and competitive.
Given it's seaside location, I had fingers crossed that our recent Indian summer would continue and I'd be able to sit by the harbour and have a pre-match fish supper or ice cream cone (or both!) bathed in pleasant sunshine.
Alas, the Scottish weather reverted to type and after a quick scout around town in horizontal rain, I sought refuge in Flynn's Boatyard, a nicely presented local 'gastropub'.
I'll admit that I gave a fleeting thought to staying there for the afternoon, but that wouldn't have made for much of a blog. So it was back towards the edge of town and the match of the day at Hamilton Park.
I joined around a hundred other hardy souls inside the ground, the majority huddled in the small stand that straddles the halfway line. There are no seats as such; just concrete steps on which supporters can sit or stand. Today, the roof was the most important thing.
As a supporter of a certain vintage I still like to stand where I can, but when it became apparent that others wanted to sit, I did the same. The experience was made a lot more comfortable when an altruistic lady tapped my shoulder and offered me a cushion to put between my backside and the steps.
After squeezing in an enjoyable pie in lieu of the fish-supper-that-never-happened, it was game time.
Referee Matthew McDiarmid didn't hang about – we were underway before 3pm – and it seemed that both sets of players were champing at the bit to make an impression.
The early stages were played at an frenetic pace with the wind assisted Girvan looking the brighter side. Their bearded centre forward Michael Reilly was the player who caught my eye most in the opening exchanges with the Huntly keeper equal to a couple of his efforts.
Huntly had their moments too, and shortly after Robert Duncanson tested the Girvan keeper with a shot from close range, he opened the scoring with a well struck penalty.
Girvan hit back pretty quickly, Reilly finishing off a nice move with a measured shot low into the net.
As play raged on the field, there was similar jostling for position in the stand. An elderly gent next to me had varying degrees of success in attempting to enforce a 'no standing' zone as others sheltered from the rain.
A goal apiece was about right at half time as the sodden players trudged off having served up an even first half.
Typically, I was miles away from winning the traditional half time draw – the prize being a bottle of something under wraps. Behind me, the holder of tickets 486-490 brandished his strip ruefully as a committeeman paced the track appealing for the holder of number 491 to make themselves known.
With veteran striker Dennis Wyness up front and the wind at their backs, I fancied Huntly to come on strong as play restarted and so it proved.
With 64 minutes on the clock, Duncanson found a yard of space in the box and slotted the ball past Johnstone to restore his side's lead. Amid the visitors' cheers, a home supporting dog howled in disappointment from the stand with impeccable comic timing.
Huntly had to withstand a fair bit of late pressure, including a very loud appeal for a penalty in stoppage time, but they did so successfully and they'll be one of the thirty-odd sides in the hat for the Second Round draw on Monday.
For Girvan the dream of an extended run is over for another year, though they can look back on a Prelim win over Amateur Cup winners Colville Park.
On the way out, I overheard one of their supporters suggesting to his pal that they had been unlucky not to earn a replay and on the basis of a pretty evenly contested ninety minutes, I'd probably agree with that.