Most Amateur Football Clubs can only dream of reaching a Scottish Cup final and, no matter the result, enjoying their day out. When Harestanes AFC and Dumbarton Academy FP AFC contested the 2002 Hampden Park showdown, the pair had emerged from an initial entry of 539 clubs the previous October.
Without question playing at the National Stadium added prestige to the blue riband of Amateur Football. Dumbarton, previous winners in 1971, were representing the Caledonian AFL, while Harestanes had emerged from the Central Scottish League.
Both Semi-Finals were tense affairs. Extra-time and penalties allowed the FP’s to edge past Balmore AFC, while their Kirkintilloch opponents came through 1-0 against Eastvale (Fife).
What I remember from the competition that season was the amount of games played by both clubs, not including the Semi-Finals and goals scored.
The Academy, despite receiving a first round bye, faced 10 teams (three replays), and netted 30 times.
Harestanes had to negotiate a route past 9 teams, were involved in a Round 8 penalty shoot-out against Dalziel HSFP, and bagged 26 goals.
The Record Books show Harestanes would achieve their first – ever national trophy success in a six-goal encounter, and they held onto the silverware against Newmilns at Hampden Park the following year.
A third Cup Final victory – placed alongside the Premier championship – in 2015 earned Harestanes AFC their place in history, when they entered the senior Scottish Cup and landed a home draw against Preliminary Round opponents Girvan FC.
With Merkland deemed unsuitable to use as a home venue, the eagerly awaited clash was switched to Kilsyth Rangers’ Duncansfield Park.
The BBC and national press were out in force looking for an upset, but Girvan had other ideas and won 3-0.
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