The Famous Grouse Scottish Amateur Cup, Saturday, 17th May, 2003, Hampden Park

Harestanes AFC 1 - Newmilns Vesuvius AFC 0
by Nick Rodger

Harestanes became the first side in 34 years to claim back-to-back wins in The Famous Grouse Scottish Amateur Cup after a nail-biting 1-0 victory over a spirited Newmilns Vesuvius in front of 1400 fans at Hamdpen Park on Saturday.

Cambusbarron Rovers were the last side to record a double-triumph way back in 1968 and 1969, but Harestanes changed all that at the weekend as they joined an elite group of only four teams who have successfully defended the prestigious trophy during the competition's long and distinguished history.

Paul Gallacher, who did not play in Harestanes' 2002 Cup Final victory, struck the decisive blow in the 87th minute of an evenly fought joust but the Kirkintilloch side owed much of their success to goalkeeper Scott McNab who pulled off a string of excellent stops throughout the match, including a remarkable double-penalty save in the 32nd minute.

Robert Stevenson pulled down Newmilns' Stuart Harrison in the box but James Tyler's spot-kick was superbly blocked by McNab and the follow-up was diverted over the bar by the inspired Haerstanes 'keeper.

Both sides engineered a series of openings as the match ebbed and flowed but with extra-time looming, Harestanes fashioned the all-important breakthrough.

A corner from the left-hand side was touched by Kevin McGoldrick and Gallacher pounced to rifle the ball high into the net from 16 yards to spark off wild celebrations in the Harestanes ranks.

"It's a fantastic achievement, "said Harestanes boss Bobby Pullen, who now has his sights on a hat-trick of Scottish Cup victories, a feat only achieved by Murrayfield Amateurs between 1929 and 1931.  "We were a bit fortunate and rode our luck but  to retain the trophy is a fabulous feeling.  We'll make it three in a row next year."

To set the seal on a memorable day, Harestanes cleaned up at the bookies as well after the players correctly predicted the half-time and full-time score on a free £100 pound bet laid on by a Kirkintilloch bookmaker.  The club scooped around £450 which they generously donated to the Merklands School for handicapped children.

While Harestanes celebrated, Newmilns Vesuvius manager Bruce McNaught was left to reflect on what might have been as his side's first appearance in the Cup Final ended in disappointment.

"We had our chances but failed to take them, but that's the way football goes," he said.  "It was brilliant for the club to get so far and I must congratulate Harestanes on their win."

It's now a case of two down, two to go for Harestanes.  Saturday's success followed their earlier triumph in the Cenhtral Scottish League Cup and with the Central Scottish League Championship title in their grasp and a place in the M & M Trophy also secured, there could yet be a few more heavy nights of celebrations in Kirkintilloch to come this season.