ABERDEEN’S DARVEL COMICS
For many a year, the gold standard in Scottish Cup shocks was generally accepted to be the 1-0 first-round defeat inflicted on Rangers in 1967 by their second-tier namesakes from Berwick. Rangers were the holders at the time, had never lost in the first round, had never been beaten by lower-league opposition … oh, and had three years earlier tried to force through a league reconfiguration that would have jettisoned Berwick back into the non-league shadows from which they had only recently emerged. The fact Berwick are English added a further level of ignominy, although given Rangers see themselves very much as a UK-wide concern, perhaps we’re lending that particular fact more weight than it deserves.
That remained the biggest jaw-dropper for quite a while, not least because the same Rangers side would go on to reach the final of the Cup Winners’ Cup, losing narrowly to Bayern Munich, one week after Celtic won Big Cup, and no, this wasn’t a banner season for the Light Blues, was it? Anyway, it was superseded at the dawn of the new millennium by Inverness Caledonian Thistle’s 2000 3-1 defeat of Celtic at Parkhead, not so much for the match itself but for that amazing headline. Hey, we don’t make the rules, some things just stick in the collective consciousness. Unlike, for example, the original “Super Cally goes ballistic, QPR atrocious” trail, coined by the Liverpool Echo in the mid-1970s after Ian Callaghan had run the Super Hoops ragged. Or was it “Super Cally scores a hat-trick, Rangers are atrocious”? We can’t remember. Hey, if nothing else, that proves the point.
But all of that is out of the window now, in the wake of Monday night’s astonishing events in Ayrshire. Junior side Darvel, of the West of Scotland League Premier Division, part of the sixth tier of the Scottish pyramid, knocked out seven-time winners Aberdeen! That’s the rough equivalent of Telford United doing a number on Spurs, or Atlético Madrid being bundled out by the Los Palmas 7. While it’s true that the Dons don’t exactly have a stellar modern record in the cup – the self-styled third-biggest club in Scotland haven’t won it since 1990 – they’re still seven-time winners of the famous old trophy, and might even have a claim to be the third biggest club in Scotland. Some perspective, then. This is seismic.
Jordan Fitzpatrick’s winner, a shot on the turn that took a deflection en route to the bottom right, may have been a little bit scrappy. Darvel may have benefited from a free-jazz interpretation of the offside law, Leighton Clarkson somehow flagged despite timing his left-channel run from deep perfectly, teeing up Patrik Myslovic for an equaliser that never was. But to his great credit – and goodness knows he needs that side of his personal ledger replenished quicksmart – Dons boss Jim Goodwin admitted that while Myslovic’s goal should have stood (no VAR you see), “it would have been an injustice if that had happened because I thought Darvel thoroughly deserved to win the game”.
A thoroughly sporting response to a defeat he described as “humiliating”. Whether or not this gentlemanly flourish will be enough to save his job is moot. His team have never been the same since just before Christmas, when they conceded an 87th-minute winner at Celtic, then at Pittodrie shipped goals in the fifth and seventh minutes of stoppage time against Rangers to turn surefire victory into abject defeat. They’ve taken just four points from the last 21 available in the league, been gubbed 5-0 by Hearts, and knocked out of the other cup as well. So there’s a fair chance Goodwin will already be gone by the time you read this. If so, he’ll not leave much of a legacy … although the worst defeat in 150 years of Scottish Cup history, plus the largest outbreak in the north-east of jeezy peeps for at least a couple of weeks, is, we’d argue, better than nothing at all.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Starting today, I am a Pole, I am one of you” – Gianni Infantin … oh, sorry. Fernando Santos takes over as the new coach of Poland’s national team, having recently made way for Roberto Martínez to get his Portugal gig.
The idea of giving a white card for acts of fair play (yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs, email edition) got me thinking about the introduction of other coloured cards. For instance, perhaps a green card for goalkeepers sorting out the rubbish thrown at them into recyclable, landfill, and quite possibly food waste?” – Alan Sharp.
Isn’t this just giving referees carte blanche?” – David Tewkes.
Send your letters to [email protected] Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … David Tewkes.