St Johnstone v Cowdenbeath in the Scottish Cup

The forthcoming Scottish Cup match between Cowdenbeath and St Johnstone will be only the 3rd time these old adversaries have been drawn against each other in this particular competition. On both previous occasions the first match at Central Park has been drawn resulting in a replay being required.

The first meeting was back in Season 1930/31 when the Fifers were in the First Division and Saints in the Second League. A blizzard had caused postponement of the Second Round match due to be played at the end of January and the game got underway on the following Wednesday 4th February. Some 5,500 spectators ( paying £196 ) turned up to watch their favourites play on a hard, snow covered pitch, with the lines being swept.

Match reports at the time indicate this was very much a game of 2 halves with the home team having the upper hand in the first half and taking the lead in 12 minutes through former Saints player Jim Paterson. Poor finishing and some brilliant goalkeeping by Sandy McLaren kept the scoreline to 1 – 0 at half time. However the second period was a completely different affair with Saints very much in the ascendancy. A John Cameron header after 67 minutes put Saints back on level terms and whilst both teams went all out for the winner the match ended in a 1 – 1 draw.

Saints team that day was : – McLaren, Steele, Hogg, Ferguson, Pryde, McBain, Nicholson, Deuchar, Cameron, Miller, Tierney.

In addition to Jim Paterson the Cowdenbeath side also included former Saints players, Tim Glancy and Jimmy Black.

The replay took place the following Wednesday on a muddy Muirton Park before a crowd of 5,358. Whilst the 4 – 0 scoreline may have been a bit flattering to Cowdenbeath there is no doubt they were the better team on the day and that they fully deserved their win.

Manager David Taylor made some changes to his team including an old Saint coming back on loan from Dundee for this match. As a youngster Jock Whyte had been with Saints in the 1920’s before playing for both Everton and Blackburn Rovers. However, his experience was not enough to make the difference the Manager had been hoping for.

The game itself was of exciting end to end play until Jim Paterson put the visitors ahead just before half time. A similar trend followed in the second half with both sets of forwards trying strenuously to score. However, a rather fortunate ricochet off of Hamill’s legs saw the ball rebound into the Saints net and the game was effectively over. Further goals on the break from Higgins and Hamill made the final score more emphatic than it might have been.

Saints team : – McLaren, Steele, Hogg, Whyte, Bain, McBain, Deuchar, Nicholson, Cameron, Ferguson, Tierney.

In 1965/66 the Scottish draw again produced a Second Round tie. This time Saints were the First Division team with Cowdenbeath in the Second Division.

Cowden, had required 2 replays to see off Arbroath in the 2nd Preliminary round before causing a major upset by defeating First Leaguers St Mirren
1 – 0 in the first round proper. The Paisley men had won the cup only seven years earlier.

On the other hand a struggling Saints team had needed a second half equalizer from Gordon Whitelaw in the First Round tie at Somerset Park to earn a replay against Second Division Ayr United. Arctic weather had a firm grip on Scotland at the time and a group of volunteers were required to sweep snow from the Muirton pitch ( no undersoil heating in those days ) to enable the replay to go ahead. 3,900 hardy souls saw a second minute Bobby Kemp goal enable Saints to progress on a treacherous pitch on a very cold February night.

The severe weather had continued and after many postponements the match at Central Park eventually got underway in front of 3,328 fans on Monday 28 February. Saints were 3 – 1 up with 10 minutes to go after goals from Bobby Kemp and 2 from Jim Kerray had effectively put them on easy street. However, two goals in 2 minutes by Clark and Millar brought equality and 6 nervous minutes for Manager Bobby Brown and his team.

The Saints team that evening was : – McVittie, Michie, Coburn, McCarry, Miller, Renton, Cowan, Whitelaw, Kerray, Duffy, Kemp.

The replay was held at Muirton the following evening when goals from Bobby Kemp, Willie Renton and Gordon Whitelaw saw Saints progress 3 – 0 in what was a somewhat tousy match.

The only team change for the replay was Ron McKinven coming in for George Miller who had made his Saints debut the night before.

The Quarter finals then paired Saints with Rangers at Ibrox on the Saturday where a single Alex Willoughby goal brought an end to that Season’s Scottish Cup campaign.

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