Scottish Football's Fab Four Up For The Cup

Scottish Cup Semi-Finals - A Preview

It's semi-final time of the Scottish Cup this weekend.  While the national cup for football teams in Scotland is only beaten by their English equivalent in terms of age, the actual Scottish Cup trophy presented to the winner is the oldest used in association football and the oldest national trophy in the world.

The first semi-final takes place tomorrow (Saturday 22nd April) as holders Hibernian take on Aberdeen at Hampden Park.  Championship side Hibs ended a 114 year hoodoo last season by beating Rangers 3-2 with a 92nd minute winner from David Gray to bring sunshine on Leith and end years of heartache for the Hibs support.  The Hibees have made a great defence of the Cup this season to reach the last four, knocking out SJFA side Bonnyrigg Rose 8-1 in the 4th Round, beating arch-rivals Hearts in the last sixteen after a replay then reaching the semi-finals with a 3-1 win over Ayr United in the Quarter Finals.  Having recently confirmed their return to the top flight, Neil Lennon's team will be looking to reach another Hampden final and cap off a memorable season for Leith's finest.  Key to any success for Hibs will be good games from the likes of the mercurial Jason Cummings, targetman Grant Holt and midfielder John McGinn.

[caption id="attachment_2325" align="alignleft" width="300"] Aberdeen have enjoyed a renaissance under Derek McInnes and will be confident of victory over Hibs in Saturday's semi-final.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2326" align="alignleft" width="300"] Jason Cummings is a mercurial talent and the catalyst for Hibernian's attacking play. Will he weave magic to defeat the Dons on Saturday?[/caption]


7 times winners Aberdeen have enjoyed a fine season again, with Derek McInnes leading the team to 2nd place in the SPFL Premiership at the time of writing and hoping to reach another Hampden final following their visit in November for the Scottish League Cup final.  The Dons started their Scottish Cup campaign for 2017 with a 4-0 win over Stranraer in Round 4, before winning 1-0 at Ross County in the 5th Round and defeating Partick Thistle by the same score in the Quarter Finals.  Aberdeen will start as favourites to reach the final, though as fans will know, the Scottish Cup does throw up surprises and with Hibs full of confidence, a win can't be taken for granted by the Reds.  Look to Irish duo Adam Rooney and Jonny Hayes to lead the line for Aberdeen, backed up by talents like Niall McGinn and Kenny McLean.

The second semi-final sees famous rivals Celtic and Rangers meet for the 5th time this season in a quest to reach the Scottish Cup Final.  Celtic have walked to a 6th league title in a row but have slipped in terms of form lately, drawing games with Partick and Ross County.  Brendan Rodgers has seen his side play an attractive attacking style of football led by the goals from the impressive Moussa Dembele while other stars to play well for the Hoops this season have been the rejuvenated Scott Sinclair, Stuart Armstrong and Kieran Tierney.  Celtic reached the last four courtesy of wins over Albion Rovers, Inverness and St Mirren and have scored 13 goals in the process, conceding just once.

Opponents Rangers will take on Celtic for the first time since new manager Pedro Caixinha took over at the helm in March.  The 'Gers have improved in form since the Portuguese took charge and have closed the gap on 2nd placed Aberdeen in the league, while they will fancy their chances of repeating their semi-final success against Celtic last season on Sunday.  They reached the semi-finals with defeats of Motherwell, Morton and Hamilton with the win against Accies including a Joe Garner hat-trick.  The Ibrox faithful will travel to Hampden hopeful of ending their arch-rivals bid for a treble and will hope that forwards Garner, Kenny Miller and Martyn Waghorn can keep up their recent form in front of goal.  Rangers will need a strong performance from their back-line and goalkeeper Wes Foderingham if they are to deny Celtic reaching another cup final this season.

[caption id="attachment_2327" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Celtic's Scott Brown and Rangers Martyn Waghorn will be key players for the teams in Sunday's Scottish Cup Semi-Final clash. Who will come out on top in this Old Firm fixture?[/caption]

Highlights, Shocks and Statistics

  • Founded in 1873, Queen's Park were the first team to lift the Scottish Cup back in 1874.  The Spiders won 10 Scottish Cup's in the first 20 years of the tournament before making their last appearance in a cup final in 1900.  Only Celtic and Rangers have more Scottish Cup victories than their Glaswegian neighbours with 36 and 33 wins respectively.

  • The early years of the competition also saw Arbroath beat Bon Accord 36-0 in 1885 which is still a record scoreline in British football.  Thankfully games are a lot closer nowadays though the Cup still has the ability to throw up some shocks, such as Albion Rovers beating Premier League side Motherwell in 2013.

  • 3 of this season's semi-finalists have been on the receiving end of Scottish Cup shocks over the years.  Aberdeen lost to the unfancied Stenhousemuir in 1995 while Inverness Caledonian Thistle's win at Celtic in 2000 spawned the famous headline "Super Caley go ballistic, Celtic are atrocious!".  Rangers have suffered shock results of their own in the Scottish Cup, losing to lower league Berwick Rangers in 1967 while Graeme Souness' side suffered a shock defeat to Hamilton Academical courtesy of an Adrian Sprott goal in the 1987 competition.

  • In 130 years of the competition taking place (it wasn't contested during the war years), 25 different teams have lifted the famous trophy.  9 more sides have reached the final without ever managing to win the silverware, most recently being Ross County in 2010.  Their near rivals Inverness are the latest "first time" winner, taking the honours in 2015.

  • Caley are one of only 3 teams to own a 100% record in Scottish Cup finals, the other two being St Johnstone (2014) and St Bernard's (1895).

  • 1896  was the only time that the final was held outwith Glasgow, when Hearts and Hibs faced off at New Logie Green in Edinburgh.

  • Hampden Park is the home of Scottish football and usually hosts the final.  There have been notable exceptions in recent times though.  In 1992/93 the final was played at  Celtic Park as the last remaining parts of terracing in the old stadium were removed.  A full renovation of the main stand caused the finals of 1997 and 1998 to be played at Ibrox and Parkhead respectively, while the 2014 final took place at Celtic Park as well as Hampden was being set up for the Commonwealth Games.

  • 1992 was the last final to be played at the old version of Hampden Park when Rangers defeated Airdrie 2-1 for their 25th Cup triumph.  This was also the game where the late Diana, Princess of Wales was the guest of honour.

  • Aberdeen were one of European football's top sides in the early 1980's and 10 days after beating Real Madrid to win the Cup Winner's Cup, needed extra-time to defeat Rangers in the Scottish Cup Final.  This led to a famous rant on the pitch at the end of the game from Dons boss Alex Ferguson claiming it was not acceptable for his side to put in a performance like he had just witnessed.  High standards indeed from the greatest manager even seen on these shores!

  • Like his English counterpart Brian Clough, Dundee United manager Jim McLean had no joy when it came to the major domestic cup, failing to win in six Cup Final appearances as boss of the Terrors.  To strike a further low blow to the legacy of this great, United triumphed in the 1994 Final with a 1-0 win over Rangers for their first Scottish Cup in what was the first season after McLean's retirement.