38 Years And Still Counting?

By Alex Horsburgh
Last updated : 30 August 2008
After a dreadful showing against Dundee United, granted superior opposition who were never expected to slip on a Blue Brazil banana skin, in the CIS Cup last Tuesday night (lost 1-5) Fife's 3rd Division side are now in line to play conquerors of Hearts in the CIS, Airdrie United, in the Quarter Finals of the Alba Cup on Sunday 7th September.

Sunday was always synonymous with Stock Car Racing, Central Park's other sport, but the first weekend of the ninth month sees the quirkiest of the teams still left in the 'Challenge' Cup bidding for semi final glory for the first time since their League Cup run of 1970.

A Quarter Final defeat of Falkirk over two legs after negotiating a four team section (one of 9 back then) sent Cowden to Hampden for a last four match with Rangers in front of nearly 37,000 fans as Celtic battled Dumbarton in the other semi (Celtic won the replay after a 3-3 draw).

Cowdenbeath had just rejoined Scotland's elite (then the old 18 team First Division in a two division set up) after 31 years out of the top flight. Cowden had played only six matches of the 1939/40 season before hostilities suspended official leagues all over the UK and when WW II was over their 2nd Div championship win of season 1938/9 was declared null and void.. 'The Miners' (their nickname before the infamous Blue Brazil moniker kicked in around the mid 1990's) had won the 2nd Division by a country mile in 1939 but there was no changing the minds of the beaks at the SFL in those dark days just after the war so 1970 was something of a new (if brief) dawn for the Fifers.

Sandy Jardine, with a deflected header, and a Willie Johnston (soft) penalty ended the Cowden dream as the Gers won 2-0 before defeating Celtic 1-0 in the final with a goal from 16-year-old Derek Johnstone.

Cue 38 years in the cup wilderness. Cowden have never been beyond the Fourth Round of the Scottish Cup since 1931 and League Cup sojourns usually end early, there have certainly been no last 8 or last 4 appearances since 1970, so the Alba Cup is now something of a holy grail for the Blue Brazil.

Airdrie United put Cowden out of the SFA Cup in the early 1970's with a thumping 4-0 win at Central Park and many might be predicting the same score after 'Beath shipped five against the Arabs and the Diamonds saw off the Jambos on penalties at Tynecastle but certain areas of Fife will have something to say about that!

It may be a cliche but Sunday is indeed Cowden's cup final. A last four place marks the pinnacle of the Blue Brazil's cup achievements.
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