Round Seven: The Falkirk Herald looks back at the 1957 Scottish Cup run that earned the Bairns the famous trophy 60 years ago.
Magnificent! This is the only word that does justice to the epic and colourful display of both Falkirk and Clyde in the seventh-round tie last week. The game was played at such an exciting pace that many of the thrilling incidents could not be recorded; they happened too fast. It was that type of match, packed with a breath-taking feast of soccer and the memorable clash of styles, reaching a mighty climax with John Prentice’s penalty kick amid a frenzy of a half-crazy crowd. The penalty, which should be worth something like £2000 to the club, was the most dramatic and decisive point of the match. Picture the scene with both teams level and less than seven minutes to go, Tom Murray races past Haddock and on towards goal, but young Clinton trying to cut him off, cracks the Falkirk winger to the ground with a desperate tackle. Instantaneously, referee Davidson points to the spot - palpably a penalty.
Throughout the following hundred odd seconds the 19,000 excitement - drunk crowd with the gates locked behind them heatedly debated the outcome of the kick on what depended so much. It was obvious that the result of the game was held in this one kick. The tension was terrific and a murmur of anticipation gurgled round the ground as Prentice placed the ball on the spot. Slowly he paced backward then moving forward very deliberately shot to Watson’s left and into the net. A high-pitched roar of a crowd completely delirious with joy greeted this brilliantly taken penalty behind which lies a Smith-inspired tale.
For some weeks now penalty-kicking has been a headache at Brockville. In previous matches John Prentice has had mixed fortunes. His first attempt found the net after striking the post. His next two efforts both came out off the post. George Merchant was called in but he too was out of luck. He scored at the second attempt at Berwick but failed against Aberdeen.
Before the Hearts match Reggie Smith decided that Prentice should take the penalties and throughout the week the husky left half has been practising with right-footed shots to the left of the goal despite being a natural left-footer. And the result was on show on Saturday with the all-important penalty.
Before this the game swayed in the contrast of styles produced by the two teams. Here we had Clyde with their elaborate mid-field work; inside forwards and wing halves working with great understanding and their precision passing all along the ground. Here from the Shawfield team we had colourful dribbles; strong playing wingers. All the ingredients of attractive play but only up to the Falkirk goal area - then Clyde had nothing. In contrast, the Falkirk defence solid, reliable and very strong in the tackle calmly fell back as the Clyde attack weaved and twisted pretty patterns towards Slater only to be choked and beaten back at the goal area. Completely different too, was the Brockville attack where they relied on the long pass and let the wingers carry the ball in a more direct approach. Many moves were thwarted by Findlay and Co., but using this approach the Falkirk forwards had far more shots at the Clyde target than Ring, Innes and Co had at the other end. On this count Falkirk deserve their place in the semi-final.
A true reflection in the styles is clearly seen in the first-half goals. Falkirk in six minutes was a simple direct affair. Murray sent over a high corner that several Clyde defenders scraped clear to the edge of the box. Grierson moved on to it, flicked it through to Dougie Moran standing 12 yards from goal in the inside right position. As the ball came to him he steadied it with his left and sent a glorious shoulder-high right-footed angular shot past Watson at a terrific speed.
Clyde on the other hand had, to say the least, a rather dubious counter. First M’Hard appeared to foul Rae as he struggled past the home left back to cross low onto the six-yard line. Ralston ran forward, hands out-stretched appealing to the heavens for off-side on Keogh. But on the game went and Slater, realising the danger, ran to meet the cross only to find big Keogh there cutely back-heeling the ball. So with Slater lying out of the goal and the ball loose Robertson calmly controlled it and unchallenged by a Falkirk defence still protesting for offside shot into the empty net.
The game continued and when it looked as if it would be a replay at Shawfield, Murray was fouled in the box. I doubt though, if either team would have scored from anything but the penalty spot.
Prentice, Parker and Slater were Falkirk heroes in defence while Moran did some wonderful mid-field foraging but Murray took the honours in attack. Peter Ralston, lacking confidence had a disappointing match. Derek Grierson tried hard but found the strong tackling Clinton a bit overpowering while O’Hara never made the most of his chances against a suspect back in Murphy.
For Clyde, who displayed a brand of football worthy of a place in Division 1, Haddock, Findlay, Clinton, Innes and Ring were best. Their hero, though, was Watson in goal, who made many grand saves. Three from Murray in the first period were really spectacular but his best was a point-blank effort from a Prentice header following a corner.