Football teams get in gear for road to Hampden

IT IS a road of hopes and dreams, with many twists and turns, writes John Slorance.

It is the road to Hampden, which clubs take in their quest to lift the William Hill Scottish Cup – or at least get as far as they can.

Set to take the opening steps on this long and winding road are Borders clubs, Gala Fairydean, Selkirk, Vale of Leithen and Hawick Royal Albert, who are all involved in first round action on Saturday.

Fresh from their resounding 6-2 victory against Easthouses Lily, in their opening East of Scotland league match last Saturday, Gala Fairydean take a trip into unknown territory, tackling high-ranking junior side Irvine Meadow away from home.

The ’Dean are well aware that they have a tough assignment ahead of them and Gala boss Fraser Lothian told TheSouthern: “Meeting Irvine is the hardest tie we could possibly have got, but that’s the way it goes.

“We got a boost last weekend, though, by beating Easthouses.

“Getting a win there is always difficult, so to do that and score six goals was good going.

“For the first time this season we are going to have a full squad, so we are going to Irvine to try and get something out of the match.

“We shall just have to play to our strengths and whatever happens it will be a great experience for our boys.” Paul Young, Craig Tyson and Rob Hewitson are all back in the mix this week.

Selkirk travel to face Glasgow University about which player David Battle said: “We have had a promising start to the season and have had some very decent results, especially when beating Lothian Thistle last Saturday.

“We don’t really know what to expect in Glasgow, but our manager Mike McKinnon has watched them this week so we will get a report on what they are like. Last season we were unlucky to get beaten by Nairn in the cup, so we will be looking for better luck this time.”

Selkirk are without Ryan McManus and Jonny Watt.

Talking of his side’s away clash with South of Scotland outfit Threave Rovers, Vale of Leithen manager Fraser Ogilvie said: “Threave are a good side, but so are Vale. I have a squad of quality players and I know that they can all do a job for me.

“Since the start of the season we have had guys missing and never had anything like a full squad, but apart from having Darren Thomson out everybody is available for Saturday.

“This makes a huge difference and I feel we are capable of even getting a cup run going.”

Hawick Royal Albert entertain Golspie Sutherland at Albert Park.

Hawick assistant manager Graeme Chadwick told us: “We have been trying different formations in the League Cup and we are now ready for the Scottish.

“This is a big occasion and of great importance to the club.

“Apart from knowing Golspie lost 5-2 to Gala Fairydean in the Scottish Cup last season (a tie which was actually held at Albert Park as Gala’s pitch was not finished), we know nothing about them. Realistically we must be in with a chance.

Golspie, however, will be looking at our league record for last season and seeing we were bottom of the league will be fancying their chances too.” Hawick have Craig Beattie missing.

Elsewhere, Kelso United begin their Alex Jack Cup campaign with a home tie against Heriot-Watt University, while Peebles Rovers have switched their opening EOS First Division match to Ormiston due to the continuing problems with the pitch at Whitestone Park.