Long Trips / Great Memories
Some great moments in the Scottish Cup from the North's oldest football team. Check out Doug Delaney's thoughts on the Big Game and read Colin Machray's account of the trip to Wigtown back in 2008. Have a look back at video highlights of the Can Cans fantastic away days to Irvine Meadow where we would want to forget the second half or to Tannadice where Dundee Utd were made to work hard for their 3-1 win.
Picture the scene. It’s Saturday, 29th September. There’s a big Scottish Cup match taking place in the town. The home team are not the favourites to win this match. The fans of their illustrious opponents set off at dawn to travel across Scotland allowing sufficient time for some pre-match refreshment. The visiting supporters are confident of a victory, and why wouldn’t they be, their opponents are a smaller, inferior team, but nevertheless tricky opposition. Predictions from fans all over the league can see no other result than an away win, regardless of their own feelings towards that particular team. The game kicks off. No quarter is asked and none is given. The home team take a shock early lead and are getting stuck in to every tackle. The visitors are stunned and struggle to get into the match. A second goal is scored with 20 minutes remaining and the fans are in dream land. The visitors star player is sent off with less than 10 to go and the unthinkable is about to happen. The home team have won and kept a valuable clean sheet. The visiting manager’s job is hanging by the proverbial thread.
If history does in fact repeat itself then let us all hope that the events of 29th September 2007 are repeated on 29th September 2012. Okay, the gulf between Forres Mechanics and Glasgow Rangers is greater than what it was between Girvan and the Cans 5 years ago but that game will serve as a reminder to the Forres players that just about anything can happen in football.
I’ve read that this game is the “biggest” in Forres Mechanics’ proud 128 year history. My own thoughts are that no, this game is not. It is perhaps, arguably, the most glamorous and most anticipated game but when the dust settles this is a Scottish Cup 2nd Round match against a Division 3 side. Forres have had two league clinching matches and countless cup finals over the years which have been “bigger” games.
Obviously this game has drawn a lot media attention and of course it is an exciting prospect for the management team and players alike. But there has been over four weeks for this to “sink in” and the curtain is about to raise. Charlie Rowley has the unenviable task of selecting the team on Saturday and there will inevitably be some disappointed players. There are disappointed players every weekend when they are not named in the squad and Saturday should be no exception. The players will relish the occasion and it’s a footballing moment for them to savour, regardless of the outcome of the match. They will all be aware that the reason they have been pitted against Rangers is largely down to the winning of the Highland League last season, and with it, a bye into the second round of the Scottish Cup.
Perhaps the manager’s task was made easier after the 6-1 demolition of Strathspey Thistle last week and the result and performance was certainly a timely reminder of what Forres are capable of at Mosset Park. While the Scottish Cup trips to Dumbarton, Girvan, Forfar, East Stirling and Irvine Meadow highlight the difficulties the Can-Cans have faced away from home, you have to go back to the 1986/87 season to re-collect the last “90 minute” defeat Forres suffered at home in this competition. Buckie Thistle won on penalties in 2009 but there have been seven other cup ties which have seen Forres win or force a replay.
There will, understandably, be a lot focus and attention on the Mechanics defence and how they cope against the international players they are up against. While Forres fans could have a reasonable guess at the Forres line-up on Saturday, I’m not sure how many Rangers fans will be able to predict the Rangers starting XI. That speaks volumes for the settled nature of the Forres squad and the summer of upheaval at Ibrox. The Mechanics defence have played at least 50 matches together whereas the visitors defence will can barely boast 5 games as a back line. The Cans kept 15 clean sheets during the course of last season, the roof will well and truly come off Mosset Park if we can keep another clean sheet on Saturday.
Enjoy the match
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A tale of one almighty effort by Cans fans who traveled to Wigtown in 2008 to support their beloved team!
Who says the romance of the Scottish Cup is dead? The alarm clocks went off at 5am in Forres with the cup tie kicking off in a mere 10 hours time! After a shave and a shampoo, the “Can Can’s Loyal” congregated at the Vic roundabout to march up to the Tolbooth. Dougy Delaney was gutted that Ashers wasn’t open at 6.15am. The bus driver, Agnes Finlayson and her sidekick were bemused that only 11 fans were prepared to make the trek south but she immediately became popular with her namesake Neil, Derek Theman and Darren Bradshaw when she “outed” herself as a Rangers fan.
Crossing the Dava is enough to prevent anyone “getting their heids down” so Derek Theman decided to stick his mix-cd on before Colin Machray’s let loose with his 8. Indeed, the young pretender to Machray’s crown was holding his own until Kate Perry came on. It would seem that Kye Taylor HAS kissed and girl and he DID like it. Attention quickly turned to football trivia and the A9 seemed to fly by as KT and NF asked “which player has won the World Cup, the European Championships, the Premiership and the Champions League?”. Despite naming almost every French player to play football, the questioned quad failed to give the “correct” answer of Thierry Henry. DD strenuously doubted the answer that Thierry Henry had, indeed, won the Champions League with Juventus. NF quickly pointed out that they had heard the question on a local radio station, had missed the answer and texted the question to a well known text messaging service. Duly doing the same again, NF “proved” to DD that Henry had won all 4 competitions. Being five years his senior, DD was adamant that the last time Juventus won the Champions League was in 1996 and “there is more chance of Buckie winning the Highland League this season than there is that Henry was at Juventus in 1996”. DD asked the text providers “when did Thierry Henry join Juventus” and was duly told 1999. Loving the fact that the “textperts” would be wrong, KT intimated that they were wrong and that Henry had never won the Champions League. As the bus approached Broxburn services, both NF and KT received “apologies” that no player had ever won all 4 competitions and they received a complimentary credit, duly wasted when they asked “.
A quick 5 minute stop so that CM could “lighten the load”, KT could have a cigarette and the rest could get breakfast and it was back on the road. The fans were in good spirits now and the songs started to flow with original historic Can Can’s songs and newly composed efforts for their opponents to enjoy. Every town passed was an inspiration for a new tune, especially going through Glasgow and last season’s conquerors of the Can-Cans, Girvan. Old wounds reopened and having held a prediction competition on the 1st Round, there were a few shouts of “hope Huntly gub you”.
Within a little over six hours of travelling the boys finally arrived in Wigtown and decided to take a tour of the town before getting off. The one thing that was very noticeable was that they love their book shops and the fans took no hesitation in mocking that. The first stop in Wigtown was a quick look at the opposing stadium and it was no comparison to Mosset Park, one stand with no seats and two very small dugouts, not exactly Paradise but there was no high expectations anyway. Next up on the tourist list was a visit to the teams local pub and the home side were very welcoming, the team offered some fans a game of pool and a free drink if they sang “I'm Wigtown till I die”, the fans sang the tune and got their pints and were quick to refer back to the old Forres songs, anything for a freebie.
The Wigtown players seemed very relaxed and their assistant manager was quick to point out that they were a “better team” than Girvan. Their chairman was very stereotypical, passionate for his club and enjoyed the banter with the opposition fans throughout the day. Indeed, his parting words were that due to financial constraints “if it’s 2-2 with 5 minutes to go, there’ll be part of me hoping that you lot get a winner”. With taxi’s being few and far between, local lad and loyal Wigtown fan, Kenny, arranged for his wife to make two trips to ferry the Forres fans down to Trammondford Park. When the fans arrived at the ground they were in full voice doing the Forres bouncy and expressing their dislike for Third Division Elgin City - one of the biggest cheers of the day was when it was confirmed that “the skiters” had gone down 5-2 at East Stirling.
Even though they were being mocked by the travellers (the home support were allegedly only there “to see the Can-Cans”) the Wigtown lot took every bit of stick on the chin and expressed their enjoyment of the opposing banter. Despite being heavily outnumbered by the locals the Mechanics were definitely the louder of the two fans. John Mutch came over to have a word with the fans and expressed his delight to being closer to England, when he walked away he was quickly asked by the fans where his wig was.
It would appear that there is “only one Ryan Green, there’s only one Ryan Green, one Ryan Green”, until Nathan Sharp opened the scoring when the travelling support re-affirmed that there was “only one Nathan Sharp”. With a dubious equaliser right on half time, the Forres fans offered to “sing a song” for the home fans. As a token of goodwill and in appreciation of the pint bought for him pre-match, KT assisted the chairman in retrieving the match footballs that were launched into the nearby overgrowth during the game.
As had been predicted, many of the home support were “Rangers” fans also and despite their team leading 2-1, it was the similar scoreline at Celtic Park that caught their attention. DT tried to inspire the Forres players by pointing out to certain Can-Cans that “the Dons are winning, come on, get in tae them”. Ironically, Rangers fan Simon Allan fired home an ill-deserved equaliser, around the same time as the SPL Champions were salvaging their day.
With Agnes agreeing to depart at 6pm, there’s was plenty of time for some post match refreshment and mingling with both sets of players and committee members. Complimentary baskets of chips were dished out by The Ploughman Inn and DT needed no invite to drown two baskets in his beloved vinegar and mayonnaise. There was time to nip into the local supermarket before embarking on that long, long winding road back north. What seemed to be “quicker than expected” on the way down, appeared to take forever on the way home. The fans had been in the bus for 2 hours and presumed they were near Glasgow when it was, in fact, Dumfries they were passing and Glasgow was “only” 55 miles away.
As is always the case on these sort of days out, sleeping is cheating so he who dared “rest” his eyes was duly awoken. NF asked the “textperts” for the full time scores in the Scottish Cup and it was he who correctly predicted 10 out 17 results and scooped the tenner winnings, with his mates pointing out that it would be “his round” when the bus stopped.
The only actual stoppage was in Auchterarder for some much needed fish and chips. The aim had been to get back to Forres as quickly as possible to catch last orders in the Red Lion and fortunately for the travel weary fans, the bus pulled up outside Mackenzie and Cruickshank at 12.30, making a grand total of 18 hours away there and back.