Jed and Hawick chase Border League glory

Action form last year's Skelly Cup encounter, which Hawick won 31-29 (picture by Bill McBurnie)
Action form last year's Skelly Cup encounter, which Hawick won 31-29 (picture by Bill McBurnie)

Hawick and Jed-Forest’s annual Skelly Cup showdown at Mansfield Park is among the headliners in a packed festive period full of Border League and rivalry contests.

The season of goodwill is upon us, which means one thing – Border league rivalry games are here. And few are bigger and better than the Boxing Day Skelly Cup grudge-fest between Hawick and Jed-Forest.

Both clubs enter the contest with plenty to play for, as not only will the Skelly Cup be up for grabs, but also important Border League points. Jed-Forest announced this week they were forfeiting home advantage in the Border League to avoid fixture congestion at the end of the season, thus elevating Tuesday’s contest to a double header.

Therefore, the winner will not only claim the Skelly Cup but also top spot in Pool B of the Border League and entry into the final, in all likelihood against Melrose, at Langholm.

“Everyone loves playing in the Skelly Cup. It’s a massive rivalry game and means a lot to a lot of people,” said Jed-Forest club captain Gregor Young, whose BT National Division 1 challengers are aiming to claim a BT Premiership scalp, exact some revenge following last year’s narrow 29-31 defeat and reach their first Border League final in over 30 years.

“We would love nothing more than to turn them over on their home turf. It will be tough but the boys are all up for the challenge.

“We haven’t won a Border League in over 30 years, so to be one game away from a final is a massive incentive to get the win.

“We have been going pretty well in the league this year but, whenever that happens, folk ask ‘could we do it in the Premiership?’ Well, we have a chance to prove if we can against a Hawick side who have found some good form.

Young added: “I personally love playing in the Skelly Cup games. It’s a big rivalry and, because we are in different divisions, we don’t get to play that often, so they’re always very competitive.

“Boxing Day will be no different and, with a big support coming down with us, hopefully we can take the cup back home and book our place in the Border League final.”

For Hawick, the 2017-18 season has not been kind and a win on Tuesday would help build momentum ahead of important Premiership fixtures and book their place in the Border League final, where they will have a chance at earning their 50th Border League title.

“This game has a bit more bite about it, just given everything that is at stake,” said Hawick captain Bruce McNeil.

“They are going very well in their league and should pose a big challenge. It’s about earning bragging rights and who wants it more.

“We want to use this game to keep our momentum up, get everyone ready for a busy Premiership run in, reach a Border League final and earn some silverware.

“Having that ([possible Border League final) at the end of the tunnel is a massive incentive and one everyone knows doesn’t come around often.”

McNeil concluded: “We have been going pretty nicely recently and they are flying high. I expect both sides will put out full-strength sides. All in, it should be a great Boxing Day contest.”

Kick-off at Mansfield Park on December 26 is scheduled for 2pm.