In 2006, I became manager of Doune Castle Ams. The previous manager had won almost everything and taken the club into the Caledonian League so it was a bit daunting. Doune however, had never won a national trophy, having lost the Scottish Amateur Cup Final in 1970 in extra time (a sore one as Doune had led 1-0 at Hampden with a minute to go).
The main aim was to perform well in the Caley Premier League (we finished 5th) but it was the East of Scotland Cup run that took the biscuit. The early rounds were all won easily and the quarter final was a home tie against Blackridge Ams.
On a dreich Saturday in March 2007, with the score 1-1, Blackridge took the lead late on. The ref however disallowed it for some unknown reason. Doune have always prided themselves on fitness (ever since that Hampden defeat in extra time) and we won 4-1 in extra time. I have to admit that I can’t even remember who scored that day at Moray Park.
The semi final was at Saughton Sports Complex on a midweek night against a physical Edinburgh side (cannae remember their name). We had been warned about them and it came to a head in the last minute. It was 1-1 when our Richie received a throw in and was assaulted from behind. The guy got a straight red and Richie, we discovered later, got a broken arm!
So I’m thinking rationally – ‘we’ve got an extra man here, we’re heading into extra time lets stay calm’. Big Stevie our sub had other ideas. Richies still lying on the ground and Stevies in my face “are you putting me on?” Actually I dont think he was asking.
So big Stevie went on and we put the free kick into the box. The ball wasn’t cleared and next thing its smashed into the roof of the net and heres big Stevie running towards us in celebration. His one and only touch of the match it was incredible!
We ended up in the wee nightclub behind the Meadowpark Hotel that night… the lads were buzzing.
The final was on 26 April 2007 at Almondvale Stadium in Livingston against a very good young side called Redhall Star. We had a team bus but it got stuck in rush hour traffic at Newbridge so we ended up arriving just 40 minutes before kick off. Redhall Star were already on the pitch warming up.
With a crowd of maybe 400 watching, we were lucky to go in level at half time and had our keeper to thank. Big McGirr still reminds people to this day. I simply told the lads to stay calm and stick at it. Sure enough a mistake let Hammy in to give us the lead after an hour and it was backs to the wall after that. We soaked up the pressure and, with two minutes left, hit them on the counter but struck the underside of the bar and it was cleared.
Redhall went straight up the park and created a great chance. I remember an auld boy behind me saying “aw naw, not again!”. Well big McGirr saved the day, launched the ball down the park and who else but big Stevie made it 2-0. Big celebrations followed and it was great getting my Sean on the pitch for the team photos. We ended up back in the Highland til yon time (and on a school night tae).
I always remember in the pub big Davie Eccles came over to me. “Well done, Tabs” he said in that deep voice of his “but you’re gonnae have to sort that midfield out”.
The following Saturday we hosted Drumchapel Ams in the league. They applauded us onto the pitch before we beat them 5-2. They were good times.
A final note : I never did find out who said “aw naw , not again” but I reckon it was an auld boy remembering how Doune had conceded a last minute equaliser at Hampden 37 years before. And thats football for you!
RIP Davie Eccles