Can amateurs join ranks of Showpark giant-killers?
Boss admits: ‘No tougher draw’
There’s a real feel-good factor around the Showpark these days.
East Kilbride Thistle are riding high after stunning Super Premier side Girvan in the Junior Cup and surpassing expectations in the league.
The new management team, headed up by ex-Jags player Alan Paterson, have built on the promotion success the club enjoyed under Billy Campbell last season.
The club’s committee are even bringing a bit of life back to the old ground, with a new cafe and gym installed within the Showpark.
And now Thistle’s amateur team are giving the club even more to shout about.
Management trio Chris McColl, Gordon Wilson and Jamie Scott have guided the squad to the fourth round of the Scottish Amateur Cup for the very first time, following a 5-1 win over Dysart.
Their reward for that success is a daunting tie away to two-time champions Dalziel next month – a side who have won their previous ties 14-0 and 7-0.
But such is the air of optimism around Maxwell Drive, Thistle Amateurs believe they can follow in the footsteps of their Junior counterparts and record a cup shock.
Gaffer McColl, from St Leonards, said: “Winning is a good habit and the boys are buzzing with the run we are on.
“Everyone had their eyes glued to their phones for the draw last week – and we ended up getting Dalziel.
“We couldn’t have asked for a tougher draw.
“Premier League champions in the Caledonian League – one of the biggest Amateur leagues in Scotland – and a team who have won two Scottish Cups, they are a massive team.
“Being part of the Thistle set-up here gives us an idea into the work ethic needed. The Junior team work their socks off all the time and you can see the rewards on the pitch.
“They are beating teams two leagues above them and doing really well, so we’ll try and take confidence from how good things are around the club right now. “We don’t fear anyone. “It’s been dire for ages here, so it’s good to see things going well and that is raining down on the Amateurs and our under-19s, who are also doing well.
“The season before we got put out in the first round of the Scottish Cup and the second of the West, so it’s unbelievable to get to the fourth round.”
Much like the Junior team, the Amateurs are building on promotion last season.
They won the Strathclyde Saturday Morning League 1C title in May and are coming to terms with the step up.
McColl has replaced Ross McNeil at the helm, after he gave up the role to concentrate on his playing career across town with East Kilbride FC, and the new management team believes this season’s sterner tests will stand the side in good stead for the cup challenge ahead.
“It’s been a hard start jumping up a league and playing teams like Tynecastle, who have ex-pros like Charlie Miller and Andy McLaren playing with them,” said McColl.
“The boys have found the step up difficult.
“The numbers were dwindling a bit, but our first session we had 15 bodies there and we had 19 to choose from by the time the Dysart game came along.”
Gordon, from Whitehills, added: “We’ve got a couple of the Junior boys playing in our team, who got promoted last season, so that will help.
“They couldn’t make Saturday afternoons any more so they’ve joined us for the Saturday mornings. Liam Sloan, who was vice-captain of the Juniors last season, and Jordan Brown, so we’ve got some good players in the team.
“Dysart were a big physical team and we held our own against them. We were 1-0 down at half-time and then we played them off the park in the second half.”
Jamie, from Greenhills, said: “Every Scottish Cup game has been like a cup final for us and we’ll treat this one the same.
“The boys will be confident and they need to play it like it’s the last game they are ever going to play if we are going to do something.”
Thistle Amateurs take on Dalziel in the fourth round of the Amateur Cup on Saturday, December 2.
History boys From left: Gordon Wilson, Chris McColl and Jamie Scott have guided Thistle Amateurs to the fourth round of the Scottish Cup for the first time
Special moment Thistle Amateurs have kicked on from winning the Strathclyde Saturday Morning League 1C last season