Rob Roy’s Scottish Cup clash at Hampden is remembered

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Do you remember what you were doing 40 years ago this very week?

Well, if you supported football in the district the only topic of conversation on your lips would have been seeing Rob Roy play in the Scottish Junior Cup Final at Hampden.

On an unseasonably hot Saturday in May, in front of a crowd of more than 11,400, the Kirkintilloch club took on rivals Kilbirnie Ladeside.

Sadly, despite taking a first half lead, The Rabs went down 3-1 in a what was the first ever televised junior cup final, aired on STV.

Remembering those heady days, current acting president Neil Anderson – who has brought together cuttings from that time to make up a booklet of the club’s achievement – shared some of the interviews he conducted with former players at the time.

The chartered accountant, who moved back to Kirkintilloch in 2014, said: “It was one of the high points in the club’s history and one I felt should not pass without some recognition.

“I made up a special programme when we played our old rivals Kilbirnie recently and some of the reminiscences were great.

“According to the people who were there, the atmosphere at the final was amazing and the Kirkintilloch supporters were really excited.

“The final was held in the old stadium and the fans recall being in the terraces on what was an unseasonably hot day for May.”

Spectator David Henderson remembers it well. The then 22-year-old Harestanes youngster was taken to the final by his dad.

David, now 62 and a retired school teacher living in Milngavie, said: “I didn’t have a driving license at the time so I went with my dad who drove us there.

“I remember it being a really big thing in the town. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and the atmosphere was amazing. Rob Roy took the lead in the first half but Kilbirnie came back in the second to score three.

“I did hear that if The Rabs had won Strathkelvin District Council said they would have put on an open top bus to take the players from Bishopbriggs to their ground at Adamslie Park.

“Unfortunately this didn’t happen but we were all still really proud of the team.

“It had been 15 years since we had won the cup and we all felt it was our time.”

At that time, the manager was Bob McFarlane and the captain Lennie Frew.

Frew recalled the team with affection and said they were a really good squad to manage.

“They all got on well before and after games,” he said. “The boys were committed, played well and fought well. In the final they did their best but it just wasn’t to be.

“The pre-match routine was certainly different, due to the game being televised live for the first time. Doing interviews with Alex Cameron in front of the cameras was a new experience.”

Lenny inherited his football genes from his grandfather who played left back, centre half and left half for Celtic from 1907 until the First World War.

Sadly, his grandfather did not survive the war.

Fellow player Steve Anderson said the game was a huge disappointment but there were two great matches in the cup run.

He said: “First we beat Bo’ness Utd 4-2 away. This game was in the fourth round and they were the cup holders. There was a wee bit of spice to the occasion as the Rob Roy buses were stoned leaving Bo’ness.

“The other game of note was the semi-final when we beat Shettleston 2-0 at Firhill in a midweek game under the floodlights.

“We were the underdogs and they were fancied as the cup favourites. There was a huge crowd at Firhill.

“But the final was a big disappointment as we were all over Kilbirnie in the first half only to be leading 1-0 at half time. The second half belonged to them and they ran out 3-1 winners.

“It just proves again that 1-0 is not enough.”

Tom Gilfillan, who was also part of the 1977 squad agreed, adding: “I can’t remember anything of note about the cup run until the semi-final at Firhill.

“They’d beaten us easily in the league at Shettleston (4-1) and were clear favourites, especially with Bobby Russell coming back from a bad injury to play.

“A big crowd midweek at Firhill under floodlights resulted in a shock win for Rob Roy.

“My main memory of the match was a tackle on Russell by Lenny Frew which led to a barney in the tunnel at half time!”