Who Can Predict The Cup Final Outcome! By Easton Thain

Anyone who is thinking about placing a bet on the outcome of the Aberdeenshire Cup Final against Fraserburgh has a very difficult task because it is one of the toughest matches to predict for a long time. Any ‘outsider’ would probably take a look at the Highland League table and say that the Broch will start as favourites and that would be fine in my book as I never like Thistle to be starting with that tag, it has haunted them too many times in the past for my liking! If the recent League game at Bellslea is anything to go by then it all points to a close encounter that could be decided by a defining moment, a brilliant goal, an awful error, great defending or just pure luck, it is so hard to call. The one thing everyone wants to see is a great game with both teams playing to their utmost abilities and for one team to run away with it would be sheer joy for the team that did that but utter despair for the other! Thistle is out to capture the magnificent trophy for the first time since 2009 when two magnificent goals from Stephen ‘Marra’ Bruce saw Cove Rangers defeated 2-0 at Turriff United with Alex Salmond among the interested spectators. For the Jags to do this will take a mighty effort against a very talented Fraserburgh side who, if they click, can sweep any side off the park. Conversely the Broch cannot for one minute dismiss Thistle’s threat and if they had seen the Jags first half performance against Keith then they would have been rightly worried as some of the play was a joy to behold. For Thistle to be victorious at Kynoch Park they have first and foremost to win the midfield battle for me that is always key to any game. Whoever is chosen for those roles they simply must win their individual battles against their Broch opponent and it is crucial that the Jags cut off supply to a lethal attack. It will be vital also that Thistle do not conceded free-kicks at the rate they did in the League game for this could be fatal. At the back then the Jags will have to be rock solid, concentrate on their tackling and must no allow attackers to turn in the box. Up front the attack must link-up well together and chances, which I feel will be fewer in a cup final, must be converted. Make no mistake there is little doubt that Thistle has what it takes to win this match and their path to the final showed that they have quality throughout and it is now time for that to show itself on a major occasion. To get to two major cup finals in a year is a magnificent achievement but what a boost it would be for manager Gary Hake to get his first major trophy as the Jags gaffer and for the players a triumph would be a massive boost. Come 3.00 p.m. at Kynoch Park there will be nothing more the management team can do, it will be down to the 11 men and any subs that come on to grab the glory for Buckie Thistle FC – it is over to you lads and all the prayers, support and best wishes go out to you from every Jags fan. Glory awaits you – OH WHEN THE JAGS GO STEAMING IN!

The Jags Get To The Final….The Hard Way!

Thistle was unlucky to be drawn in the first round this season and faced a very tricky task away to Cove Rangers and with a poor recent record at Allan Park many feared the worst. Come half-time any hopes of an eventual place in the final looked far-fetched as Cove were in control and leading by a goal to nil. Rangers continued to hold sway but then a harsh sending off for the home side around about the hour mark changed the match direction and Thistle took control. Stephen Gauld equalised off his nose but extra-time loomed. However, four minutes into injury time in which there were fifteen minutes mainly due to a nasty injury to Kevin Main, Andy Low flicked a ball on to Stephen Gauld who ran in and smashed home the winner – a true feast for Stephen! In the second round (last eight) another tricky task was asked of Thistle as they travelled to face a much improved Keith team for whom Mike Ewen was in the scoring mood. As expected the Maroons young side fought valiantly and it took all of the Jags efforts to progress. Chris Angus struck the first blow in the twelfth minute but the game was in doubt until on the hour when the talented teenage winger Scott Adams netted with a strike that was simply world class. It has to be said also though that but for two magnificent saves from Kevin Main to deny Mike Ewen, one in each half, the final outcome may have been different. The semi-final ask was even tougher with the Jags heading to Pitmedden to face Formartine United and the latter had already beaten Thistle in a League game at Victoria Park albeit with the aid of some poor defending. Early on Kevin Main superbly denied Cammy Keith but chances were even in the first half before the Jags rocked United seven minutes before half-time when Andrzej Kleczkowski netted the opener. Thistle had some massive escapes in the second half before they killed off Formartine with a magnificent double-whammy, Andy Low curling home a brilliant free-kick and then Chris Angus smashed home a half-volley off of a delicious Scott Adams cross.

A superb display then but the Jags will need to perform as well as that on Saturday if they are to succeed. For me it is the midfield who will decided the final, if the Broch get going and get the supply through to Graeme Johnston and Scott Barbour then Thistle will be in serious trouble but if the likely wing combination of Shaun Wood and Scott Adams (Chris Angus is still unavailable) gets going and the middle area is solid then Fraserburgh could find themselves with real problems to solve. Defensively the Jags cannot give away as many free-kicks as they did in the League game at Bellsela or their hopes could be shattered. With Liam Baxter suspended the likely front line is Andrzej Kleczkowski and Andy Low and they have worked really well together so far and that again could be fruitful. At the end of the day it really could come down to who wants it most and who gets that rub of the green, one thing is for sure the Jags won’t want it to go to penalties!

Thistle Hold The Edge In Final Encounters

Time for the history lesson and on Saturday the Jags face the Broch for the fifth time in an Aberdeenshire Cup Final though it should be for the sixth time! The reason behind the latter is all part of an incredible story about meetings between the two clubs in the final of the Aberdeenshire & District Football Associations ‘blue ribbon’ competition.

Fraserburgh FC was founded in 1910 and in their very first season they met the Jags in the Abedeenshire Cup Final (Thistle’s second ever final) with the match being held at Pittodrie on 11th March 1911 and to say it proved to be controversial is an understatement! The controversy was nothing to do with the Broch lads but all concerned the referee, Mr Ritchie. It was in the first half that the referee started off the controversy, with the game goal-less the Jags George Mackenzie headed home a super goal but to his disbelief, and everyone else’s, Mr Ritchie disallowed the goal and gave no reason. A renowned Aberdeen evening paper of the time later reported that Thistle was ‘swindled’ out of a goal and that decision by the referee was the ‘mystery of the match’. In the second half the Broch bagged a brace of goals to win the cup but the raging storm was far from abated especially when, after the match in a local hotel, Mr Ritchie was clearly heard to boast that he had done everything in his power to prevent Thistle from winning! The report in the Banffshire Advertiser of the time makes interesting reading and worth a look at in the library on microfilm and in it they state people like Mr Ritchie should be expunged from the list of officials

The next final encounter was in 1954-55 and here we had the strange case of the cup being lost before it was retained! In 1953-54 the Jags ‘Grand Slam’ team won the county cup but the final was delayed to April 1955. There were more fixture pile-ups in 1954-55 and with no extension allowed by the SFA the Aberdeenshire Cup Final was withheld until towards the end of 1955-56. By the time the Jags met the Broch in the delayed 1954-55 final they had already been knocked out of the 1954-55 final by…..Fraserburgh! The final at that time was over two legs and the first was held at Bellslea and an exciting two-all draw ensued. Thistle was the better team but the Broch took chances to force a draw. A Martin Buchan goal had the Jags ahead at half-time but two Alex Stephen goals in the second half saw the Broch turn it around. They were heading for an unlikely win until seven minutes from time when Bobby Rose equalised. Two days later the second leg was held and on the morning of the match Jags gaffer Jim Leask had a massive headache as keeper Norman Cook pulled out and it was then discovered back-up goalie Lennie Marshall was on holiday! There was no other keeper so reserve centre forward Andy Morrison donned the gloves! However, backed by a strong defence he did remarkably well and late on pulled off one magnificent save. The result was close again but this was down to some feckless forward play from Thistle. However, ten minutes into the second half Bobby Auld struck the goal that won the cup.

Heard the one about the player who scored for both teams in a final and neither was an own goal! Well it happened in the teams clash in the 1956-57 final. The first leg was at Bellslea and held in April 1957 and it saw a quite incredible second half display by the Jags. In the first half Fraserburgh were in complete command and Thistle all over the place and the Broch held a two-goal advantage at the break with goals from Alex Stepehn, Billy Bradfird and Johnny Strachan with Jocky Christie replying for the Jags. Something must have been in the Thistle lads tea at half time though as they came out all guns blazing and tore the Broch apart securing a nap hand of second half goals to win the match 6-3! Jocky Christie completed his hat-trick, Bobby Rose got a brace and Freddie Smith netted the sixth. Lo and behold though there was not time in the season for the second leg and thus it was delayed for five months to September 1957! There was little point in playing it as the Broch were never going to recover the situation and they were again undone by a powerful second half display by the Jags. Goal-less at half-time Thistle rattled in another second half nap hand through George Andrews and Ivor Smith, both doubles, and Jocky Christie whilst the Broch could only muster two through Freddie Smith and Don Emery meaning the former was the player to net for both sides in a final without one being an own goal!

Now I mentioned that Saturday should in fact be the sixth meeting in a final between the two, well it would be but for the final that never was! In 1963-64 both reached the final but then it was never played and the Broch was awarded the cup! The reason? Well as far as I can ascertain it was down to the massive Typhoid epidemic that broke out in Aberdeen that year and eventually no one was allowed to leave the city which included players for Buckie Thistle and to the extent that the Jags could not then field a team and thus scratched meaning the cup was awarded to Fraserburgh – more than a bit harsh!

The last final between the two was at Victoria Park in 1984-85 and was a one-off encounter. Bizarrely that season saw the Jags bedecked in green and white stripes and the Broch in white tops with black pinstripes! It was an afternoon that saw the emergence of a young man who would go on to legendary status at the club, Alan ‘Mickey’ McPherson! He produced a magnificent display taking the Broch apart and he rightly won man of the match. Just eight minutes in ‘Mickey’ opened the scoring and five minutes before the break the tie was effectively killed off when Robbie Nicol brilliantly lobbed keeper Neil Clark for the second. Chances fell to both in the second half but the game was wrapped up in a bow with eight minutes left when George ‘Doddie’ Stephen cracked the ball home from fifteen yards. The Jags team that day was – Alec Innes, Eric Shearer, Bruce Morrison, Ray Pirie, Donald Buchanan, Alan McPherson, Robbie Nicol, George Stephen, Donald Smith (Graeme Catto), Graeme Tallis (Ally Ewen) and Derek Anderson. What wouldn’t the Jags give for a similarly superb display this coming Saturday, from all the players! Time alone will tell.

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