THE draw for the first round of the William Hill Scottish Cup has conjured up some exciting ties – none more so than the all-Borders meeting of Gala Fairydean and Hawick Royal Albert, writes John Slorance.
Despite being drawn out first, there will be no home advantage for the Fairydean on September 24 because of the Netherdale 3G pitch installation and the game will be played at a neutral ground, with Selkirk’s Yarrow Park the likely venue.
Gala manager Fraser Lothian told TheSouthern: “It’s a great draw.
“We could have ended playing in the Highlands and although we will not be at Netherdale, we will not be travelling far, which is a bonus.
“Playing Hawick will be a real crowd-puller and this has made our treasurer very happy.
“People will be saying that we are favourites to win, but I am not looking at it that way. Hawick have a lot of new players this season and I believe they have improved a lot, and will be up for the game as much as we are, so anything can happen.”
Royal Albert coach Davie Aitkin added: “Being drawn against Gala is just perfect. Our boys are all from Hawick and know the importance of a Hawick v Gala game.
“We might not have been getting results, but we are improving all the time and will be looking to get one over Gala and progress into the next round of the Scottish.”
Selkirk have not been blessed with good fortune, however, as the Yarrow Park outfit are away to Highland League side Nairn County.
Souters’ boss Bryan Templeton said: “I have never been to Norway but I am getting closer by going to Nairn.
“It’s going to be a really tricky game for us. Apart from the long journey just to get there, we know without even having seen them play we are going to be up against a good footballing side in Nairn.”
Vale of Leithen face a home tie with junior team Girvan from Ayrshire and manager Robbie Horn told us: “Perhaps it could have been a better draw as Girvan are a good side, but it also could have been an awful lot worse.
“Having home advantage is a big help and we will be putting this to full use. It’s a good set up at Girvan and they have some very useful players in their side. Fingers crossed we will hopefully have a full squad for what looks like being quite a game.”
This weekend, Gala Fairydean and Hawick Royal Albert are involved in Friday evening action. Fairydean are without Geri Rossi, Craig Livingstone and Grant Gass for their away encounter against Preston Athletic, but Gary Lothian returns to the squad.
Andrew Maltman and Luke Cooper miss Hawick’s home clash with Coldstream.
Also on Friday, rejuvenated Peebles travel to Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale.
Vale of Leithen are off to the capital to take on Civil Service Strollers on Saturday, while Kelso United take a trip to the beach on Sunday to play Eyemouth.
Selkirk have Ryan Clapperton back for their away fixture with Edinburgh University on Sunday and have pulled off a signing coup, with former Real Mallorca B team striker Romero Aguilera putting pen to paper.
The 21-year-old is a family friend of a Selkirk FC committee member, and was signed by chairman Jim Moody while he was on holiday in Majorca.
Moody said: “He is very strong and quick and I think he is the first foreign player to sign for Selkirk.”