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The history of
the Scottish Cup

Winners take their place in a long line of champions, which dates back to 1874 and the winners of the inaugural competition, Queen’s Park.

The Scottish Cup is a competition filled with memories, of tragedies and triumphs won by true football greats, and featuring a few memorable milestones and records…

In the beginning

In 1873 Queen's Park, Clydesdale, Vale of Leven, Dumbreck, Third Lanark, Eastern Granville, and Kilmarnock unite to form the Scottish Football Association. They create a competition open to all member clubs - the Scottish Football Association Challenge Cup, with 16 teams kicking off the inaugural competition on October 16th.

A trophy fit for kings

The Scottish Cup is the oldest existing trophy in the world for the code of Association football. The cup and lid of the famous trophy were created by Martin Hall & Company in London in 1873 before being sent up to Glasgow to George Edwards & Sons for the engraving work on the main body of the trophy and the attachment of the footballer on the top. The total cost of the trophy and 11 ‘silver gilt badges’ was 56 pounds, 7 shillings and 11 pence.

The first champions

Queen’s Park are the first team to have their name etched on the trophy beating Clydesdale 2-0 at the original Hampden Park on March 21 1874 in front of a crowd of 2500.

The Red Lichties set Bon Accord ablaze

The highest scoring Scottish Cup match – a result which still stands as the greatest ever margin of victory in a legitimate game – was played in 1885. Arbroath were 15-0 up at half-time and went on to score a further 21 goals after the restart against Bon Accord. Bizarrely, on the same day some 18 miles away, Dundee Harp were putting another Aberdeen team to the sword, hammering Aberdeen Rovers 35-0. This would have stood as a record, had it not been for the Red Lichties’ heroics 36-goal triumph in Arbroath.

The highest scoring final

Season 1887/88 set a Scottish Cup record that has once been equalled but never been surpassed. Renton, who were then the dominant force in Scottish football and would be crowned world champions following victory over West Bromwich Albion that same month, demolished Cambuslang – winning 6-1 on February 4 1888. Celtic matched this scoreline on May 6 1972, as Jock Stein’s men beat Eddie Turnbull’s Hibs 6-1.

Jocky’s giant

Not surprisingly, that famous Arbroath win contains another record – for the most goals scored in a Scottish Cup tie. John ‘Jocky’ Petrie takes that honour with 13 in the game. The winger later went on to serve as Arbroath kitman and was inducted into the club’s hall of fame in 2017.

Hampden Park, Glasgow.

A Tale of Three Hampdens

Hampden hosted several finals in the early years with the gala day also taking place at various other grounds including Hamilton Crescent, Kinning Park and Cathkin Park. The second Hampden Park first hosted the tournament in 1885 and hosted 10 further finals until 1899. The third, and last, Hampden opened in 1903.

Queens of the New Age

As the fledgling game of football grey in popularity, Queen’s Park were crowned as the dominant force. The Spiders won the cup on 10 occasions, their last victory coming in 1893. As the Scottish Football Association celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2023, Queen’s Park are still ranked third among the competition’s most successful clubs behind Celtic and Rangers.

Lost legends

In 2022 a total of 25 clubs had lifted the cup aloft as winners. Among them are several clubs who have gone out of business including Vale of Leven – who won it three times, Renton, Third Lanark, and St Bernard’s.

A record crowd

Hampden has set a few attendance records over the years and the best-attended Scottish Cup Final also happens to hold the European record for a domestic crowd. An incredible 147,365 supporters watched Celtic beat Aberdeen 2-1 on April 24 1937. Johnny Crum and Willie Buchan scored for Celtic, Matt Armstrong for the Dons.

Giant killers

Then Division Two side East Fife became only the second team from outside Scotland’s top division to win the trophy when they lifted it in 1938. Technically, in the era of league football, the first team outside the top flight to lift the trophy was Queen’s Park in 1893. The ‘Spiders’ did not join the Scottish League until 1900 and were therefore a non-league club when they claimed the trophy for a tenth time.

Live transmission

Clyde and Celtic ran out for the first ever live televised Scottish Cup Final in 1955. The game ended in a 1-1 draw in front of a crowd of 106,000. The replay was not televised, denying viewers one of the biggest upsets in history. Celtic had won the previous four finals in a row. Tommy Ring ripped up the script and scored the only goal of the game, clinching victory for the Bully Wee.

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