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Ayrshire's best for 87 years

Posted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 10:39 pm
by Scottish
Irvine Meadow winning the West Premier Division and Auchinleck Talbot's success in the Scottish Junior Cup means that both those sides will play in next season's Scottish Cup. That brings the total Ayrshire entry to five which is the most the county will have had in the competition proper since 1922-23 when Beith, Galston & Hurlford all won through the qualifying stages to join Kilmarnock & Ayr United. That in turn was the highest number of Ayrshire representatives in the tournament proper since the establishment of the Qualifying Cup in 1895.

Of course there is no longer a qualifying tournament as such but as the Meadow won their place after 22 league matches and Talbot after 11 cup ties only Girvan of the non-league Ayrshire entries will not have had to 'pre-qualify.' IMHO that puts the achievement of 2009-10 on at least a par with that of 1922-23 when, thanks to byes and teams scratching, the three non-league qualifiers only had to win one match each to make the competition proper.

The last time there were as many as five Ayrshire entries, Qualifying Cup included, was in 1938-39.

Posted: Wed Jun 03, 2009 7:19 am
by bobby s
Next season will see 2 entries from Midlothian - Whitehill Welfare & Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic which I think might be Midlothians biggest entry in a long time.

Posted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 12:27 am
by Scottish
I've used the historic (pre-1974) county boundaries for Ayrshire clubs. By the same method Midlothian would include all the Edinburgh clubs and therefore have a pretty substantial entry each season. Excluding Edinburgh you'd have to go back to the dawn of the 20th century when the likes of West Calder Swifts, Penicuik Athletic and Polton Vale all took part.

Regarding the Ayrshire entries it's impossible to say exactly how many clubs have taken part given the difficulty involved in establishing whether clubs with the same name but a few years absence between entries should be regarded as the same or separate clubs but there have been close to sixty over the years with the most in any one season being 23 in 1891-92 and the least just one (Kilmarnock) in 1873-74 & 1874-75.

Ayrshire can also claim - alongside Dunbartonshire & Glasgow - to have been represented in every Scottish Cup with Kilmarnock the only club to have played in every competition proper (Queen's Park have entered every competition but were eliminated in the Qualifying Cup in 1911-12).

Kilmarnock are the only Ayrshire side to have won the trophy (three times) or reached the Final (eight times) but four Ayrshire clubs have played in the semi-finals - Kilmarnock (15), Ayr United (3), Kilmarnock Athletic (2) & Ayr Thistle (1). The last actually reaching the final three in 1876-77.

Eleven Ayrshire teams have reached the quarter-finals - Kilmarnock (34), Ayr United (12), Annbank, Ayr Parkhouse & Kilmarnock Athletic all twice and Ayr Thistle, Beith, Hurlford, Kilbirnie, Mauchline & Stevenston United all once. Mauchline actually reached the last six.

Best debut performance by an Ayrshire club was from Stevenston United who reached the quarter-finals in 1913-14, losing to Third Lanark only after extra time in a second replay.

A more realistic target for Meadow & Talbot to beat is to avoid being eliminated in their first competitive tie - a fate which has befallen forty Ayrshire sides on their Scottish Cup debuts.

Posted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 11:15 am
by Snuff
Talbot and the Meadow being in the Scottish Cup next season is surely potentially bad news for Kilmarnock and more particularly Ayr United.

When he became Kilmarnock manager Jim Fleeting wished to create closer bonds between the Rugby Park club and the local junior clubs, taking Killie XIs to play juniors as often as possible.

However, he was adamant: he would not play Talbot, Cumnock or the Meadow, since: "They all think they can beat us and the last thing I need is another couple of local derby cup-ties".

Jim Jefferies just might have this thrust on him next season; certainly with Cumnock and Glenafton relegated Talbot's gate income might need the boost a Scottish Cup tie at Beechwood against Ayr or Kilmarnock would give them.

Posted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:33 pm
by Scottish
I'm not familiar with the Jim Fleeting quote but certainly in recent times there has never been any reticence on the part of Killie to send sides to Junior grounds for testimonials, pre-season games etc.

For either Meadow or Talbot to face Kilmarnock in the Scottish Cup they will have to have negotiated three earlier rounds which is a difficult task for any non-league team, irrespective of the draw.

But certainly the idea of taking on a 'big' club packed with experienced players on a good quality pitch in front of a passionate full house is an appealing one for the game's lesser lights. Add in a decent stand, match programme and proper refreshments and I can see why any 'minnow's supporters would relish such a match.

Yes, I'm sure Ayr would enjoy a day out at Meadow Park!