BACK in the day, competing to try and win the Scottish Junior Cup was a bigger attraction to clubs at this level than any other.

It probably remains the height of ambition for most participants nowadays, however there is no denying the glamour of the Junior Cup has been diluted to a fair degree by the importance attached to doing well in the Super Leagues.

A great deal has been said and written on this matter and well do I remember having to come to a compromise by agreeing to differ with the former Pollok legend Ian Spittal who regarded winning the league title (back then the Central First Division) as a far greater achievement and test of a team’s qualities than a Scottish Junior Cup triumph.

Spit’s viewpoint is also at odds with the ordinary club supporter for whom cup final day is a particularly momentous occasion particularly if their team wins and they can enthusiastically lay claim to having triumphed in the one and only Junior football competition that every team in the land enters.

The 152nd playing of the cup gets underway this weekend with last night’s clash between Maryhill and Irvine Meadow followed by 26 first-round ties taking place today (it would have been 27 but for the Kilwinning Rangers v Satcoats Vics contest being cancelled because the Vics are allegedly unable to field a team).

Only two other city clubs are in action and hard not to think mixed fortunes are at best in store given Super First Division strugglers Shettleston are on a near “mission impossible” through East in facing last season’s beaten semi-finalists Bonnyrigg Rose, however Glasgow Perthshire could prevail at Keppoch Park against Tayside visitors Dundee North End.

The luck (if you can call it that) of the draw has set the scene for fully eight all-West Region confrontations, one of which has the potential for a giant killing act with Super Premier big guns Arthurlie heading deep into Ayrshire to take on strong going Kello Rovers who have yet to lose under new manager John Quinn.

Another evenly matched contest – on paper at least – has Troon locking horns with Super First Division rivals Renfrew at Portland Park while a reunion of former team-mates is promised by the meeting of Central First Division pair Rossvale and Greenock at Huntershill Stadium.

Greenock assistant manager Shaun Dillon played at Irvine Meadow alongside Rossvale manager Brian McGinty, whose own No.2 Stevie Aitchison partnered Dillon when he later joined Pollok.

“Shaun was the epitome of your aggressive ball-winning stopper in his playing days and I just hope there is nobody in Greenock’s line-up of a similar ilk to him.

“It will be good to see Shaun again after all these years but Stevie and I would love nothing better than to send the big man away with a bloody nose though we won’t say that within earshot.

“It’s shaping as a tough ask as Greenock are by all accounts playing very well and have got their league campaign away to an unbeaten start, however we are only a point behind them thanks in no small way to our players giving us everything they’ve got in their tank.

“They are a decent bunch and I cannot be too critical of them but at the same time neither do I want to be the kind of team manager who comes in at the final whistle and praises his players for their display when they haven’t won.

“Winning is everything and more so in Scottish Junior Cup ties where the team that gets themselves more up for the game on the day will be the ones celebrating afterwards .

“Auchinleck Talbot were masters of it when Shaun and I teamed up together at the Medda where we played in a title winning side for three years on the spin yet couldn’t get past the cup quarter-final stage because our opponents wanted it more than us.”

The one-time Rangers signing is confident Rossvale’s mix of older heads and young legs has it in them to clinch a place in the second round.

He insisted: “We are now 5/6 games into our league campaign and I’m looking for players to make my team selection easy by nailing nail down a position with their performances.

“There are decent signs emerging with Peter Bradley looking the part at centre-back and Jamie Hunter proving a livewire in our engine room while further forward I am convinced Stephen McGladrigan will bag his fair share of goals if we can get the service to him.

“He’s had niggling injury scares of late which have held him back but he’s trained well this week and the hope is he catches fire against Greenock and gets us over what is a very difficult first hurdle.

In other cup games, leading Ayrshire District pair Irvine Vics and Maybole square up at Victoria Park just a matter of weeks after their league meeting at the same venue – won 5-3 by the Vics – while another close one to call has Ardeer Thistle hoping to make home advantage tell against Yoker Athletic.

In other news, next month’s scheduled Central Sectional League Cup Final showdown between Pollok and Clydebank at New Tinto Park (6th October) has been postponed because of Police Scotland expressing concerns over a large attendance turning up for a Friday night game.

And finally, best wishes are extended to Junior football’s three representatives – Glenafton, Girvan and Banks O’Dee – seeking to win their William Hill Scottish Cup ties today and book a place in the second round draw which will include the SPFL League Two clubs.


(Kick-offs 2pm unless stated )

William Hill Scottish Cup first round: Glenafton v Threave Rovers, Brora Rangers v Girvan, Banks O’Dee v Huntly.

Scottish Junior Cup first round (2.30pm): Culter v East Kilbride Thistle, Dunipace v Dunbar Utd, Rob Roy v Glenrothes, Glasgow Perthshire v Dundee North End, Rutherglen Glencairn v Kirrie Thistle, Arniston Rangers v St Andrews Utd, Ardeer Thistle v Yoker Athletic, Penicuik Athletic v Livingston Utd, Kello Rovers v Arthurlie, Longside v Devoronside, Troon v Renfrew, Bonnyrigg Rose v Shettleston, Lochee Harp v Bo'ness Utd, Tayport v Cumbernauld Utd, Burghhead Thistle v Shotts Bon Accord, Thornton Hibs v Ellon Utd, Musselburgh Athletic v Newburgh Thistle, Ardrossan Winton Rovers v Banchory St Tiernan, Broxburn Athletic v Fraserburgh Utd, Rosyth v Dundee East Craigie, Pumpherston v Cambuslang Rangers, Aberdeen University v Kirkaldy YM, Irvine Vics v Maybole, Lewis Utd v Bathgate Thistle, Rossvale v Greenock, Hill O’ Beath v New Elgin Newmains Utd v Annbank Utd. Super Premier Division: Pollok v Hurlford Utd, Kilbirnie Ladeside v Clydebank. Super First Division: Kilsyth Rangers v Darvel, Petershill v Largs Thistle. Central First Division: Forth Wanderers v Lesmahagow, Neilston v Benburb, Wishaw v St Roch's, Port Glasgow v Blantyre Vics. Central Second Division: St Anthony's v Lanark Utd, Vale of Leven v Johnstone Burgh, Carluke Rovers v Bellshill Athletic, Royal Albert v Ashfield, Gartcairn v Vale of Clyde. Ayrshire District Division: Whitletts Vics v Lugar Boswell, Craigmark v Dalry Thistle.