IN an incredible quirk of fate, Lesmahagow Juniors have landed Hill of Beath Hawthorn in a Scottish Junior Cup tie being played this Saturday.
The Craighead Park contest comes 25 years after ’Gow lost 1-0 to the Fife club in a Scottish Junior Cup Final played in front of over 8000 fans at Kilmarnock’s Rugby Park.
“When I heard we’d been drawn against Hill of Beath I just smiled,” said Lesmahagow manager Robert Irving, who played in ’Gow’s midfield in that contest back in 1990.
“A lot of our team weren’t even born when that final was played. I was 23 at the time and had followed Lesmahagow all my days.
“I never, ever thought I would see ’Gow getting to a junior cup final.
“To be part of the team that achieved that was something special.
“It was brilliant for two wee villages to get to the final.
“There was a big, big crowd at the game and I remember supporters buses coming from places like Carluke, which had its own supporters club.”
That 1990 ’Gow team had previously defeated Whitburn 3-2 in the cup semi-final at Brockville thanks to goals by Chris Wilson, Sandy Robertson and Owen Watters.
Although ’Gow suffered the heartbreak of losing the 1990 final, Robert said that manager Johnny Stewart and his assistant John Taylor had lifted the entire squad by what they said to them in the dressing room after the match.
“Losing that final felt like the lowest of the low,” Robert said. “But the manager told us that it wasn’t the end of a good run, it was the start.”
And the manager’s words proved to be prophetic, as ’Gow defeated Hill of Beath on their way to the Scottish Cup semi-finals the following season, when they eventually lost 2-1 to Glenafton at Firhill.
Over the next few seasons, the Craighead Park side went on to win the Clydesdale Cup, Clydesdale Team of the Year, RB Farquhar League Cup, Abercorn League Cup and Premier League.
They were Premier League top goalscorers in season 1993-’94.
The other remarkable thing about ’Gow and Hill of Beath slugging it out again is that the Fife team beat ’Gow 5-0 in a friendly match at Hill of Beath just two months ago, in a contest commemorating 25 years since the cup final.
Robert said: “We will need to play better than we did against them in August and we will play better.
“There were five or six players in our team the last time who weren’t regulars. But this Saturday we will have a stronger team out.