53 Scottish clubs are scheduled to play in this season’s two national men’s cup competitions, the Scottish Cup and the Challenge Cup, the draws for which were announced by Cricket Scotland on Wednesday.
This marks a welcome return after the cancellation of almost all domestic cricket in Scotland last year. Even though the continuation of the pandemic leaves question marks there are some mouth-watering fixtures in the first round of both competitions, due to be played on 23 May and 30 May respectively.
No fewer than six of the 15 first-round matches in the Scottish Cup pit teams from the Eastern and Western Premier Leagues against one another, with 2019 winners Heriot’s at home to Western rivals and three-times winners Ferguslie. There’s even a Glasgow Southside derby between Poloc and Clydesdale to look forward to, while Stewart’s Melville will travel north to take on another Eastern Premier League side in Arbroath United. Other all-top flight encounters see EPL champions Forfarshire away to Stirling County, Carlton take on Greenock, and Corstorphine play Langside.
Some top sides face a less challenging start, at least on paper: Grange, who have won the Cup more often than any other club, take on Eastern First Division side Edinburgh CC and West of Scotland are away to Irvine, while Watsonians will travel to Paisley to face Kelburne and Uddingston have a potentially tricky match away to Renfrew.
Two sides from the Strathmore and Perthshire Union, Perth Doocot and Falkland, are away to East Kilbride and Stoneywood Dyce respectively, while Meigle have a bye in the first round and will be away to the winners of the Stirling County-Forfarshire clash in the second. In the remaining games Marchmont are at home to Ayr, Edinburgh Academicals travel to Drumpellier, and Aberdeenshire face a long journey to Borders club Gala.
In the Challenge Cup there are just six first-round ties, with ten entrants receiving a bye into the next round.
Sides from the Premier Leagues are excluded from this competition, but clubs with long and distinguished histories nevertheless feature in the draw, none more so than Stenhousemuir, twice winners of the Scottish Cup, who will be at home to Aberdeen GSFP.
Strathmore, long dominant in the Union which still bears their name, will meet Glenrothes, while Kinross-shire (with three esses) take on Comrie.
In the other first round games Helensburgh will travel to meet Dunfermline and Carnegie, Gordonians are at home to Morton, and Leith will entertain North of Scotland League side Huntly. Two pairs of sides will play their first game in Round 2: Linlithgow will be at home to Dundee HSFP, and Hillhead will meet Milngavie.
Lying in wait for the winners of first-round ties are Glasgow Academicals, Galloway, Bon Accord, Livingston, Kelso and Northern Counties.
It all amounts to a fascinating prospect, if only the pandemic can be controlled sufficiently to allow it to happen.
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