A Significant Scottish Cup Win in Fife - 1987

(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v Kelty Hearts, 12th February 2022)

In welcoming Kelty Hearts to Paisley for their first match against the St. Mirren senior side, the Programme Archive looks back at a significant Scottish Cup tie against another lower league side from Fife.

Raith Rovers v St. Mirren 1987

Raith Rovers v St. Mirren 1987

On March 14th 1987, Saints travelled to Kirkcaldy to face Raith Rovers in a Quarter Final tie, having already disposed of Highland League Caledonian 3-0 in the Third Round at Love Street and arch-rivals Morton in a five-goal thriller at Cappielow in the Fourth Round. Meanwhile, Raith Rovers had entered the tournament one round earlier and had overcome Vale of Leithen (4-0) and Queen of the South (1-0) before requiring two replays to knock out Peterhead by 4-0.

For the Quarter Final, Rovers issued their standard 24-page, A5-sized league programme, printed black and blue on white matt paper with touches of red on the glossy outer page. On the inside, “Frankly Speaking” related home Manager Connor’s views on the forthcoming tie. Currently top of the Second Division, Raith had been the team to beat all season but, for this afternoon at least, they would be the underdogs and the players were being urged to enjoy the occasion.

Pages six and seven were devoted to St. Mirren. A team photo headlined pen pictures of the squad, with Frank McGarvey being singled out as the “Danger Man” and an accompanying article speculated how recently appointed boss Alex Smith would adapt to his new role. “Reserve News” and “Behind the Scenes” focussed on home team news, whilst “Personal File” interviewed recent Stark’s Park signing Gordon Dalziel. Local journalist Graeme Scott ran the rule over the four Quarter Final ties in what was seen by many as being the most open competition for years.

“Today’s Action”, in the centre pages, presented the two team line-ups. The home side took the field as listed but in the Saints side Tommy Wilson replaced Gary Peebles and Ian Cameron replaced Brian Hamilton, the latter being relegated to the bench. The half time scoreboard showed that there was a full programme of Scottish Cup and League matches that day, and action photos from Raith’s last league match filled the remainder of the double page spread.

Further Club news ran alongside the latest part of a series on previous Kirkcaldy managers, the subject of this issue being 1970’s incumbent Andy Matthew. “Rovers Returns” headed Raith’s full fixtures and statistics for the season.

A double page spread presented a very informative article on “Rovers in the Quarter Finals” and preceded “It’s A Fact” which detailed the two previous Cup ties between Raith and St. Mirren in 1913 and 1962, both of which had seen the winners of the tie go all the way to the final.

Given the commitments imposed by the Scottish Cup sponsors, almost half of the issue was consumed by sponsorship and adverts, but this was offset by good reading throughout and it was still good value for 40p. The programme can still be found nowadays, but it is not as cheap as it was then!

Peter Godfrey opens the scoring

Peter Godfrey opens the scoring

Under a sunny sky, a large Saints contingent swelled the crowd at Stark’s Park to 8,392 and caused the start of the match to be delayed by fifteen minutes.

In 17 minutes, an Ian Cameron corner was met by veteran ‘keeper Hamish McAlpine, but he cleared it only as far as Billy Abercromby. Aber’s returning header found Saints’ centre-half Peter Godfrey who, facing his own end, back headed the ball towards goal. McAlpine frantically back-pedalled to reach the ball but only succeeded in helping it into the net.

Paul Chalmers seals St. Mirren's place in the Semi Final

Paul Chalmers seals St. Mirren's place in the Semi Final

Raith then had some good chances, with winger Steve Simpson making good use of the ball. In the first half, a Gordon Dalziel header found leading goalscorer Colin Harris, but he was thwarted by a goal-saving tackle by Tommy Wilson. In 59 minutes, a solo effort from Dalziel engineered a clear shot at goal, but Campbell Money did well to push the ball to safety.

Thereafter, pre-match suspensions and on-field injuries took their toll on the home side and they visibly tired. The scoreline was made more respectable when Paul Chalmers netted in the last minute to make it 2-0 and seal the tie.

In stark contrast to the team’s form in the League and League Cup, St. Mirren had reached yet another Scottish Cup Semi Final - their fourth of the decade - and it was to prove ultimately successful when they defeated first Hearts in the Semi Final and Dundee United in the Final.