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Strawberry Jam

The tradition and romance of the Scottish Cup never fails to enthuse Scottish football fans with the hope that come the month of May that their club’s name will be added to the coveted trophy – the oldest National trophy in the world. Since the Scottish Cup was first presented to Queen’s Park in season 1873/74 only one team, from out-with the top division, has ever won the trophy – East Fife in season 1937/38. The 2006 Scottish Cup Final on Saturday 13 May provides the opportunity for a club to emulate The Fife’s historic achievement when Second Division Champions Gretna FC, in only their fourth season in the Scottish League, face up to the pride of one half of Edinburgh – Hearts of Midlothian. Next week we will look at the meteoric rise of Gretna FC as they face up to their first-ever Scottish Cup Final against opponents who are seeking their seventh success in the tournament. A real David versus Goliath contest with which to end the 2005/06 season. On Tuesday 9 May 2006 the first part, of a two-part documentary, on the fairy tale rise of Gretna will be televised on BBC 2 at 9pm.

But this week we turn the clock back to Wednesday 27 April 1938 when a crowd of 91,700 watched East Fife replay First Division Kilmarnock for the Scottish Cup, following a 1-1 draw. Drawn games and replays had been the hallmark of the Second Division teams march to the final, apart from rounds one (a 2-1 away victory over Airdrieonians) and two (5-0 home thrashing of Dundee United). In round three a home draw (1-1) was followed by a fighting 2-1 victory against the previous season’s beaten finallists Aberdeen at Pittodrie. Round four saw a similar story against local rivals Raith Rovers – a 2-2 draw at Bayview was followed by a 3-2 victory over the Kirkcaldy team at Stark’s Park. The semi-final saw a massive tussle with Edinburgh side St Bernards (now defunct). The three games, all played at Hearts ground Tynecastle Park, resulted in two 1-1 draws but eventually the Men from Methil triumphed 2-1 and set up their second ever visit to Hampden Park in a Scottish Cup Final. They had been defeated 3-1 in 1927 by Celtic in the very first Scottish Cup final to be broadcast live on the wireless.

Almost predictably the final against Kilmarnock on Saturday 23 April 1938, in front of 79,000 spectators, resulted in a 1-1 draw. Even in the replay the teams were tied at 2-2 after 90 minutes, but in extra time East Fife stepped up a gear against their First Division opponents and goals from Larry Millar and Danny McKellerell ensured that the Scottish Cup came to the Kingdom of Fife for the first-ever time. The celebrations when the Cup came to Methil are still the talk of the steamie. Over the eleven games played in the successful cup run, some 373,000 spectators watched the Second Division team march to glory and the names of the winning team are still recited with pride by East Fife supporters of a certain vintage!

Milton; Laird, Tait; Russell, Sneddon, Harvey; Adams, McLeod, McCartney, Millar, McKerrell

This was indeed basically the team which took The Fife to their history-making victory, with the exception of Harvey. In a move that wouldn’t be allowed today, John Harvey was a last minute signing from Hearts to replace Andy Herd (Left-half0 who had sustained a knee injury in the drawn final. John Harvey only signed for East Fife on Tuesday 26 April and made his one-and-only appearance for the Black and Gold in the final replay, picking up a Scottish Cup winner’s medal in the process. Much to the delight of the Methil faithful the SFA approved a request from East Fife to present a cup medal to Andy Herd.

East Fife’s reputation as doughty cup fighters was further enhanced in season 1947/48 when they became the first Second Division team to win the Scottish League Cup. Promoted as champions to the First Division they went to win the League Cup again in 1949/50 and became the first-ever club to win that trophy for a third time in season 1953/54. Thus traditions and reputations are made but sadly the glory days for East Fife are now lie in the past, but for true football fans hope always springs eternally!

The Scottish Cup is the jam on the cake as far as the finalists are concerned, after a long hard league programme, and appropriately a preserve recipe – Strawberry Jam – is just the ticket for this week as we look forward to yet another Scottish cup Final.

Strawberry Jam

Ingredients:  6 lb (2 ¾ kg) strawberries; 4 ½ lb (2 kg) sugar

Method:  Pick over and hull berries, then boil, without water, for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, add sugar, stir till dissolved, then return to heat. Bring to boil and boil for 10 minutes. Pot and seal, Store in a cool, dry, airy place.

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