CARLTON and Grange will meet for the first time in a Scottish Cup final when the old Edinburgh rivals head up the road to Stirling’s New Williamfield tomorrow.
It is an occasion to savour for both clubs but Carlton, in particular, will relish the chance to add silverware to the trophy cabinet.
The Grange Loan outfit have become short-game specialists in recent seasons with frequent successes in both the Murgitroyd T20 Cup and Cricket Media Super Sixes.
However, both these titles have been wrested from their grasp in this their 150th anniversary season and Carlton would love to celebrate this landmark year by winning the Scottish Cup for the first time in their history.
When play begins at noon they will know whether they are still in the hunt for a league and cup double or whether the cup represents their last chance of glory for this season – their double hopes, of course, rest on them beating Arbroath this afternoon to take the league campaign into the final week.
Carlton came close to winning the cup in 2007 when they reached the final only to lose out to a Greenock side who were the dominant force in Scottish cricket at the time.
While Fraser Watts played his part during Greenock’s campaign that year, the former Scotland batsman missed the final to attend his sister’s wedding.
Now back at his beloved Grange Loan, Watts would like nothing better than to be a member of the first Carlton team to lift domestic cricket’s premier knockout tournament.
“Playing in a cup final is always a special occasion,” he said. “But to do so for Carlton – and against Grange – makes this one extra special for me.”
While Watts, at an advanced stage of his career, may not have many more finals to savour, he is delighted that Carlton will field a number of locally reared youngsters in the season’s showpiece game.
Scotland under-19 spinner Chayank Gosain is perhaps the most celebrated of them, but top order batsman Kyle Macpherson is another hugely promising talent who should feature.
Watts added: “I’m very proud that we have three of four home-grown youngsters representing us on Sunday and it speaks volumes of where we are as a club. It should be a good day come what may.”
Indeed, this match has the makings of a classic with both sides fielding a potent blend of wily experience and promising youth, but Grange may start favourites, if only because they have won the tournament on six occasions.
Carlton may argue that will count for little, especially with such seasoned campaigners as Watts and the two most recent Saltires captains – Gordon Drummond and Preston Mommsen – in their ranks.
Grange, though, can counter that with a clutch of Saltires stars – past and present – including their captain Neil McCallum, explosive opening batsman Ryan Flannigan and Gordon Goudie, a player with the potential to turn any match with either bat or ball. Goudie, a member of the Grange side that replaced Carlton as Murgitroyd T20 champions last weekend, would love to celebrate a double cup success.
The former Stoneywood-Dyce player, said: “It goes without saying that the guys are really up for the final. But I think the fact that it is Carlton makes it an even bigger game for both clubs.
“There has always been a big rivalry between the sides and it means even more in a Scottish Cup final. It has the makings of a great game and a great day for Scottish cricket and hopefully we will come out on top.”
The day marks a first for cricket north of the border in that the Cricket Scotland Trophy final between West of Scotland and Uddingston will take place simultaneously on New Williamfield’s Oval Two.