God Save The Queens
The English FA Cup isn’t the only cup competition to have provided its fair share of shocks. The Scottish Cup has also been full of surprises, with Celtic having already been knocked out at home by Aberdeen, and it was the Dons’ turn to be on the receiving end of a bloody nose yesterday, when they were on the receiving end of a beating after an extraordinary match against First Division side Queen Of The South at Hampden Park yesterday afternoon. Everything seemed to be proceeding very much as per normal with the scores level at 1-1 at half-time, before five goals in eleven minutes at the start of the second half left The Doonhamers as the 4-3 winners, and with a place booked in their first ever Scottish Cup final. They also stand an excellent chance of being Scotland’s representatives in the UEFA Cup next season. Rangers’ 2-0 win at Partick Thistle set up a semi-final match for them against St Johnstone – should they win, their place is already guaranteed in the Champions League next season, leaving Queen Of The South in the UEFA Cup as the Scottish Cup finalists – an exceptional achievement for a club that has not played in the top division of Scottish football since 1964.
Queen Of The South were formed in 1919, taking their unique name from a nickname for their home town of Dumfries, which was coined in the 1850s by a poet that was running for election as the town’s MP. The club also lays claim to being the only British football club to be mentioned in The Bible (although it is, to say the least, likely that the writers of it were referring to the Queen Of Sheba, rather peering into the future to talk about Scotland’s fifteenth best team). Their nickname, “The Doonhamers”, is also a general nickname for the town itself. Dumfries is one of the most southerly towns in the whole of Scotland, and the name is said to refer to people from the town working away referring to the town as “doon hame” (or “down home”). The club’s greatest ever player, Hughie Gallacher, was also one of their earliest, playing for them during the 1920/21 season before going on to find greater fame with Newcastle United. The club’s most successful period came in the early and mid-1950s. Having been relegated in 1951, they were promoted straight back into the top division a year later. A record crowd of over 26,000 saw them play Hearts in a Scottish Cup quarter-final at Palmerston Park (the only football ground in Britain to be named after a former prime minister), and they finished in sixth place in the Scottish League in 1956.
Like so many other Scottish clubs, their history since then has largely been undistinguished. They made their first cup final appearance in 1997, losing 1-0 to Falkirk in the Scottish Challenge Cup. They also hold a record for having had one of the oldest players ever to play senior football. In 1992, with the reserve team short on players, manager Ally McLeod (who had, of course, managed Scotland in their disastrous 1978 World Cup campaign) picked himself to play, even converting a second half penalty in a 7-1 defeat by St Mirren reserves. They were promoted to the Scottish League First Division in 2002, and have stayed their ever since. Their run to Hampden Park this season has taken them past Peterhead, Linlithgow, Greenock Morton and Dundee. The only thing stopping them from European football next season now is an unlikely looking victory for St Johnstone against Rangers in the delayed second semi-final. It might just be time for The Doonhammers to start dreaming on an unlikely European adventure.