Ramsden Cup preview: The final to forget

Jamie McGowan lifts the cup.
Jamie McGowan lifts the cup.
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If Falkirk can follow the 1997 model and lift the Ramsdens Cup, don’t expect a classic.

The parallels are there - Falkirk in the final of the challenge cup trophy, Kilmarnock lifting silverware, Falkirk playing Celtic in a semi-final, and playing them off the park.

But as cup winner Jamie McGowan says, back then, Falkirk didn’t play well.

“Boy, we were terrible that day,” he admitted to The Falkirk Herald.

“We were a team that just attacked, attacked and attacked again, but had a real off day.

“You tend only to remember the days you played well, and that team had a few of those days, but not that one.

“I remember we were poor and Hagey scored late on, that was about it, but we ground it out and a trophy is a trophy.”

Six months before that victory, Falkirk had played Kilmarnock off the park in the Scottish Cup final, and left with a runners-up medal. Finally being crowned a winner goes no way to making up for the disappointment of that day at Ibrox, but the roles were reversed at Fir Park.

“Nothing will ever make up for the Scottish Cup final,” McGowan bristled. “We were all over Kilmarncok that day and they got the goal. It’s pretty much exactly what we did to Queen of the South - turned up expecting to win, and it just didn’t click.

“We ground it out though, and there was a real quality core at the club at that time.

“Success is driven from the dressing room, and we had the perfect mix at that time. Lunatics, quiet guys, real driving forces - it combined into a terrific team, but it didn’t click that day, even though we won.”

So the similarities are there. Falkirk receiving plaudit for their performance on the grand stage, losing, and a big trophy heading to Ayrshire, before the Challenge Cup final.

And McGowan sees no reason why it can’t happen. He’s still a regular at Bairns games as the FalkirkTV summariser or a Kicktalk radio pundit, and he will be attending a club function before the game at the Beancross before heading to Livingston.

No doubt he’ll be asked to recall his cup-winning day again - even though it doesn’t stand out so much in the memory.

It’s a game and day out he’s looking forward to. “We’ve been playing terrifically well, and the team has done really well considering the expectancy levels at the club and the amount of games played by such a young squad.

The passing game is being praised throughout Scotland.

“Falkirk have an excellent record against Hamilton - they’re no easy side - but looking back statistically, Hamilton are a side Falkirk do well against. It’ll be a great day, and even though it’s not the bigger trophies, a cup, at the end of the day is still a cup.”