This was the year that Whitburn won the Scottish Junior Cup for the first time after two unsuccessful attempts.
As early as round 2, Whitburn's first entry into the cup, having received a bye, some supporters had the feeling that it could be our year. The team had gone to an Ayrshire team's ground and had completely out played them for 85 minutes, only to lose two late goals. The return to Whitburn for the replay was even more emphatic as Whitburn made no mistake, defeating Irvine Meadow 5-0. Traditionally Whitburn through the years have found Ayrshire opposition difficult and they powered through to round 3 easily in the end.
The round three tie against fellow East region team Pumpherston was much postponed due to inclement weather and finally went ahead just after Christmas. The division B side, ironically managed by Lex Shields who had been the Whitburn assistant manager the year before, put up a good show, but ultimately fell to the more skillful Whitburn outfit.
As in the previous round, round 4 brought opponents that Whitburn should beat (at least on paper) - bottom of the Central division team Thorniewood. On the day Whitburn could not get going and had numerous goal attempts which were either saved or were off target. It was then that our optimism turned to disbelief - surely we could beat this young team! Thorniewood to their credit kept playing and could have stolen the game at the death, but for a magnificent save by Burns in the burnie goal. Again no mistake was made at Central park, but it was too close for comfort. Incidentally, the last time that Whitburn made the final, they also struggled against a team that should have caused them no difficulty - Tulliallan, so perhaps that was an omen! As they say, football is a funny game.Round 5 brought another potentially difficult tie in the shape of Neilston, another Central league team that were going strong at the time and away from home. For an hour Whitburn played extremely well, racking up three goals and coasting. And then, as against Irvine, a collapse, but this time with about a third of the match to go. Neilston stormed back with two goals and Whitburn had to defend well to keep their lead - which they did.
Traditionally Whitburn have fared well against teams from the north and their first home tie of the campaign brought Arbroath to Central park - this looked like the easiest draw of the quarter final - another omen perhaps? As it turned out it proved to be a formality for the team with a relatively straightforward out classing of the northern visitors.
And so to the semi final - most Whitburn fans wanted a showdown with Shotts Bon Accord since the town of Shotts is only around five miles from Whitburn (although the teams play in different leagues). Instead the favourites came out of the hat with Whitburn - Benburb, a young team to be feared and on a good run. With no disrespect to both Shotts and Johnstone Burgh, Whitburn were faced with a potentially difficult tie and some wondered if history would repeat itself - in 1995 we had beaten the strongly fancied Glenafton in the semi only to lose in the final. As it turned out Benburb were good, but the more experienced team won out in the end, although many supporters felt that we defended too deeply. Again a last minute lapse, just as we seemed to have weathered the storm, forced the game into extra time. Level at the end, the game went to penalties - traditionally a difficult area for Whitburn - and we won through! Coincidentally Benburb went on to win the Central League Premier division.
The final was played at Firhill, a ground well known to Calum Milne - another omen? This time Whitburn started as favourites to another Central team in the shape of Johnstone Burgh. Half of Whitburn seemed to be at the game and they were shocked when what looked like a goalkeeping misjudgement saw us go one down. In retrospect and having seen it on the live broadcast, it proved to be a beautifully flighted free kick that a top professional would have been proud of - but surely Burns should have saved it? The final was the most entertaining for years, ebbing and flowing throughout with a fair amount of good football on display. Eventually the game went to penalties (again) with Whitburn once again coming out on top - who said winning the cup was easy? The captain Prior stepped up to deliver the winning kick - a fitting way to win for a proud and brave man who had been in the losing side of 1995.
The scenes in the town that evening showed just how much it means to everyone to have won the cup. The team paraded the cup in an open top bus and the later celebrations resulted in much alcohol being consumed. The whole town was given a lift and we look forward to the defence of the cup.
On a more personal level it was great to see some of the older supporters taste success after following the team since its inception 66 years earlier. In particular one felt for 90 year old Jimmy Ferguson, a stalwart committee man who had supported the team throughout. One also felt sadness for Jim Donald, another long serving committee man who had unfortunately died the year before - he would have been proud of the team's achievement.
The scores and scorers round by round:
|2 - 2
|5 - 0
|Gilmour, Hume(3), Taylor
|3 - 0
|Hume, Gilmour, Taylor
|0 - 0
|4 - 0
|Craig, Hume(2), Wilson
|3 - 2
|Arbroath Sporting Club(h)
|3 - 1
|Hume, Campbell, og
|1 - 1 (3-2pens)
|2 - 2 (4-3pens)
OVD Scottish Cup Final
28 May at Firhill, home of Partick Thistle
Whitburn 2-2 Johnstone Burgh
Whitburn 4-3 on penalties
The squads on the day were
|Colin L Campbell
|Colin J Campbell
Whitburn Subs : Taylor, Wilson, Maratea, Craig, Black, Sokoluk, McPhee, Smith, Scott
Johnstone Subs : Sandilands, Stevenson, Fagan, McConnel,Connie, Miller, Fallon, Hunter,Renton, McKim, McKenzie, McGuire
Here is the report I wrote for the website on the day with some of the pictures taken at the game:Sunday 28 May 2000 kick off 3:05 - Scottish Junior Cup Final
Johnstone Burgh 2-2 Whitburn Juniors
Whitburn win 4-3 on penalties
Attendance : 7012
Johnstone started the brighter of the two sides, forcing an
early corner which was pushed past the post. In two minutes they were in front
from a free kick just outside the box, Clouston booked for tripping the
Johnstone man. Lindsay took the free which seemed to swerve visciously and
floated into Burns' goal with him seeming to totally misjudge the flight. After
this shock start Whitburn seemed in determined mood and settled into their game
with some good passing movements. On 11 minutes Clouston sent in a low swerving
shot from outside the box which the keeper saved well. Eleven minutes later
Milne sent in a cross from the left which Hume headed goalwards, but Donahoe
saved well. In 30 minutes another Hume header went over. After 38 minutes of
charged into the box and was brought down, after treatment he
took the penalty to bring Whitburn deservedly level. Despite the Whitburn good
play during this half, Johnstone looked dangerous on the break.
Whitburn began the second half well, Gilmour getting on the end of a cross only to see the keeper push it out for a corner. Kenny Hannah struck the corner to the far post and Campbell bulleted the ball into the net. From the restart Johnstone struck back with a shot from McLay to stun the Whitburn support. Johnstone almost retook the lead a mere 4 minutes later when Martin shot unchallenged from 35 yards and struck the Burns' left hand post with him beaten. After 14 minutes Frater chased a long through ball which Burns was slow off his line to, but fortunately for Whitburn he blocked the shot. There followed a nervy period in the game with neither team creating many chances of note. After 33 minutes had Prior's diving header connected with a good Gilmour cross then he would surely have scored. Brolly could have sealed it four minutes later for Johnstone, but he headed wide when it seemed easier to score. Shortly afterwards Gilmour struck a beauty from outside the box which Donahoe turned on to his post.
Extra time was not as exciting as the 90 minutes although both teams had a chance. Whitburn first in the shape of Campbell who latched on to a Wilson through ball and, although he beat one defender and the keeper, he took too long to get his shot in. At the other end a Johnstone player spotted Burns off his line and attempted the chip, but he narrowly missed the target. With the game still level, both teams had to endure a penalty shoot out again.
Johnstone went first in the shape of Lindsay who scored. Milne took Whitburn's first and netted. Burns saved Martin's effort to his left so up stepped the experienced Taylor who barely hit his penalty and Donahoe saved easily. The next four penalties found the target - Miller and sub 14 for Johnstone, Clouston and Gilmour for the Burnies. The came the real drama of the day - the final penalties. Sub 12 stepped up, seemed to strike the ground and sent his kick past the left upright. Captain Steve Prior now had to score to send the cup to Whitburn for the first time in their history - under immense pressure he hit his penalty with power and although Donahoe got a hand to it, it struck the back of the net!
Calum Milne was named the sponsors man of the match and Whitburn earned some more money for being the top scorers in the cup this year, with 23.