Three Out of Four's Not Bad

Last updated : 09 November 2005 By Firparkcorner

It seems impossible to explain – other than perhaps that Butcher somehow brings an element of luck that was previously missing. After we won the Scottish Cup in 1991, we did not enjoy a run to the semi finals of either competition until 2003. It is remarkable to think that an SPL club could go so long without a semi final but we managed it. Quarter finals were plentiful but for various reasons – in some we were outclassed, in some we were unlucky and in some we bottled it – we could not find the winning touch. Then Terry took over.

We know the pain of Hampden losses
Despite being in charge of a struggling team (which should have been relegated eventually!) we reached the Scottish Cup semi final in 2002/3. The cup draws got progressively kinder, sending us to Kilmarnock and Clyde before we drew the ace, Stranraer in the quarters. Surely this would be our first success in seven or eight attempts? It was. James McFadden was our inspiration through the run and even though it took a lucky own goal to set us off, the result was never in doubt. Rangers just edged us out 4-3 in a classic match. However, it was a case of what might have been – Clarkson missed a sitter to put us 3-1 up before Rangers motored away from us.

Terry’s second season brought a much improved league performance but we let ourselves down in the cups. Forfar ended our League Cup involvement at the first hurdle and we lost to (First Division) Inverness at home in the Scottish quarters.

What now seems like normal service was resumed last season when Morton and Inverness were defeated away and we won a quarter final with holders Livingston. Butcher had the team fired up and we raced to a two goal lead. However, luck played its part again. Livi had what looked like a good goal not given on the stroke of half time and soon after the break we made it 3-0 with a deflection. The eventual 5-0 win was enjoyable, but a little flattering. We even managed to go one better than the previous occasion – winning a sensational semi final 3-2 aet against Hearts. The final proved beyond us though…

But now, in Butcher’s fourth season we are on the brink of glory again. Hamilton and St Mirren both gave us problems but we survived. Aberdeen have had the beating of us in recent cup games but again we delivered one of more best, most solid performances when we needed. A semi final draw consisting of us, Livi, the Pars and one of the old firm is the stuff dreams are made of.

Could this be the year? Well so far under Butcher we’ve lost a semi and won a semi but lost the final. I’ll be happy if the natural progress continues…