Gas in the Scottish Cup

May 25, 2022 | News



With nine minutes of extra time remaining in December 2020, in the delayed 2020 Scottish Cup Final, and Celtic hanging on to a narrow lead in pursuit of the unprecedented quadruple triple, man of the match Stephen Kingsley headed a long looping ball back across the face of the goal and Hearts’ substitute Josh Ginnelly thundered it home from very close range, past the despairing goalkeeper Conor Hazard.

Despite this setback, Celtic were to hold on for a 3-3 draw and secure the trophy on penalties. Hearts, gallant losers, featured two former Rovers players in their number, full back Michael Smith, who scored one of their penalties in the shootout and goalscorer Ginnelly. Ginnelly became the third player who has appeared for Rovers and also scored in the Scottish Cup Final, but you must go back over a century to find the two others. Willie Culley (1892-1955) scored Kilmarnock’s early opening goal in the 1920 Final, as his side defeated Albion Rovers 3-2 at Hampden Park.

(photo of Michael Smith courtesy of Neil Brookman)


Trailing from the fourth minute, Killie equalised on 13, Culley firing home when put through on goal by Mattha Smith (1897-1953). He arrived at Eastville in January 1926 and, over a period of just more than two years, scored a commendable 45 goals in 57 Division Three (South) fixtures.

He may have only played once for Rovers, scoring the consolation goal in a 4-1 Southern League defeat to Watford in October 1908, but Jack Chalmers (1884-1947) was Arsenal’s top scorer one season and scored in two of the three games which constituted the 1910 Scottish Cup Final.

Unfashionable Clyde drew a crowd of 60,000 to Ibrox, which produced gate receipts of £1,410 and, shortly after Chalmers had hit the crossbar after lobbing goalkeeper Bob Crumley (1876-1949), he defeated the keeper with “a long shot”. Once Chalmers and Frank Booth (1882-1919) had put Clyde 2-0 ahead before half time, the side relaxed and two Dundee goals in the closing moments meant a replay was required. Chalmers was injured early in the goalless replay and limped through normal time plus extra time.

A second replay drew a crowd of 27,000, with receipts of £598 and Chalmers scored in the second minute, firing home from a pass from John Wyllie (1884-1940). Dundee rallied, though, and it was they who won 2-1 and received the cup from Sir John Ure Primrose (1847-1924), chairman of the Clyde Navigation Trust.

Back to the present day, and we have just witnessed the 2022 Scottish Cup Final. Josh Ginnelly reappeared in the Hearts side, again as a substitute, and Michael Smith remained unused on the bench. As with two years ago, Hearts were unable to overturn the Old Firm dominance in domestic tournaments, losing 2-0 after extra time to Rangers. With Hearts losing in both 2020 and 2022, there is no addition to the list of ten Rovers players who have also won the Scottish Cup. Celtic, perhaps understandably, account for a fair amount of these achievements. Bobby Muir won the cup in 1903 with Celtic, Fraser Forster twice, in 2011 and 2013, Scott Sinclair also twice, in 2017 and 2018 and James Young an impressive six times with Celtic between 1904 and 1914.

(photo of Frase Forster courtesy of Keith Brookman)

“Sunny Jim” Young (1882-1922), a one cap Scottish international, played 19 times for Rovers before playing in over 400 Scottish League matches at Celtic. A full back, he was booked in the 1907 final and hit the post in 1914; he also played in the 1909 final which, after two draws with Rangers, saw the trophy not awarded amidst ongoing crowd trouble.

In addition, the first Rovers player to win the trophy was John McCall (Hibernian in 1902) and later winners were Jack Nielson (Third Lanark in 1905), Bobby McKay (Morton in 1922), Garry Kenneth (Dundee United in 2010) and Conrad Logan (Hibernian in 2016), as well as Culley’s 1920 cameo.

Ten players, Neilson, Chalmers, Kenneth, Smith and Ginnelly, plus Sam Irving (Dundee in 1925), Billy Gillespie (East Fife in 1927), Bob Harris (Queen of the South in 2008) and the 2015 Falkirk pairing of Luke Leahy and David McCracken, have played in and lost the final, Smith and Ginnelly being the only two players to have lost on more than one occasion. Meanwhile, Scott Sinclair (three times), Mark Walters (twice) and Paul Heffernan (with Kilmarnock in 2012) are the only three Rovers players to have won the Scottish League Cup. Losing finalists, alongside Walters, are Andy Dorman at St Mirren, Fraser Forster twice with Celtic and the Rovers manager Mark McGhee, when a player with Aberdeen.


(photo of Paul Heffernan courtesy of Neil Brookman)