The Benchman: Money talks in Highland League

Who's scoring with a diving header? Tweet your answer @FalkirkHeraldSp
Who's scoring with a diving header? Tweet your answer @FalkirkHeraldSp

The Benchman hopes Stenhousemuir secure their League One survival on Saturday and enjoys a catch-up with Yogi and Russell.

PLAY-OFFS: Well done to Stenhousemuir who went all the way before seeing off East Fife last week. Queen’s Park are next up and they are an unpredictable outfit. After years of struggle, they are now in good shape on and off the park and it’s good to see Queen’s back again. They have a phenomenal history, including appearances in the English Cup final, and might well have a better future.

GET YER SOUVENIRS: How many chances do you get to cash in on a Scottish Cup final appearance? Not too many in the case of a club of Falkirk’s size, although the recent record is impressive. Surely the income-generation machine should be in overdrive? You can see it now. The High Street will be awash with traders, hawkers and barrow-boys flogging all sorts of imitation tat and cleaning up. The Falkirk logo and colours will be pirated and adapted on cheap materials that might not survive a Scottish rain shower or two. Income to Falkirk - nil.

INVERNESS ANGLE: I was up in Inverness last Thursday and met Yogi and Russell. They are looking forward to the final and think it should be a great family day out. It will be an early start for their supporters, but the pricing of the tickets has gone down well with families. The atmosphere at the 1997 final was great and this should be a similar type of occasion.


ANSWERS: Last week’s mystery picture was Willie Waddell jumping for joy after his Kilmarnock side had pipped Hearts to the League title on goal average. The player who moved between Dean Court Bournemouth and Brockville was Alex Bain.

TEASER: Which future Bairn played in the FA Cup final of 1982 between Tottenham and Queens Park Rangers?

MYSTERY PIC: Who’s scoring with a diving header in the great picture above? Clue: he won the league with the team he was playing for.

NAIL-BITERS: The battle to escape the drop from the top flight of English football is nothing if not enthralling. Burnley are away and who goes down with them is anyone’s guess. There are huge financial implications, even with the parachute payments. Look at Wigan Athletic. 2013- FA Cup winners and a Premier League side. 2015- down to League One, effectively the old Third Division.

MONEY TALKS: It seems there are effectively two divisions in the Highland League. Significant financial investment has seen the emergence of super-teams like Brora and Formartine, who can use their financial muscle to attract players way beyond the reaches of their competitors. Good, promising players from other clubs can be bought up and offered wages far in excess of their current income. Sounds familiar? Livingston? Gretna?