The Emirates Cup Final, as the Scottish Junior Cup Final is called nowadays for sponsorship reasons, is the biggest cup competition organised by the Scottish Junior Football Association (SJFA) and all 160 junior teams compete in it. 'Junior' does not refer to the age of the players, these are not youth teams, but means they do not meet the 'senior' teams on a regular basis. 'Senior' football is played in the professional and semi-professional Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League and in the three senior 'non-leagues', i.e. the Highland League, the East of Scotland League, and the South of Scotland League. The junior teams do not automatically compete in the Scottish Cup however nowadays four junior teams are in the hat for the first-round draw. Irvine Meadow XI even managed to reach the 4th round of the Scottish Cup this season.
The supporters from Linlithgow were allocated the Main Stand and the Theestle fans were given the East Stand. I sat amongst the Largs contingent as they were the underdogs today and I spent my first few days in Scotland in a B&B in the Ayrshire town in 2001. As an added bonus the East Stand was the sun-drenched side of the park which ensured there was an excellent 'cup-final-in-May' feel to the occasion.
The East Region team were the favourites today but Largs made a good fight of it. Eventually Rose full-back Kevin Donnelly scored the only goal just short of the hour mark. Despite ending the game with ten men, Stevie Manson was sent off after a reckless challenge on Alan McCabe, the Rose showed their experience (this was their fourth Junior Cup Final in nine years) and made it through to the end without any real problems.
Theestle were applauded off the park by the 3,000-strong contingent from Largs after a brave performance but it was the team from the east who were handed the cup by first minister Alex Salmond.
For pictures of a Kilmarnock FC game at Rugby Park see this post.
Sunday 23rd May
Emirates Junior Cup Final
Largs Thistle 0 Linlithgow Rose 1
Goal: Donnelly 54.