The players and management have clocked up substantial mileage en route to this year’s amateur East of Scotland Cup final, but on Tuesday, both Sandys and Edinburgh Rose will make the short journey to West Lothian for the showpiece match.
The Lothian and Edinburgh Football (LEAFA) Premier Division 1 sides meet at Livingston’s Almondvale Stadium in pursuit of one of the country’s more prestigious accolades within the amateur setup – the first time two sides with LEAFA accreditation have met in the competition’s final.
This year’s fixture marks an historic occasion for the hardworking committee of LEAFA, who have provided a magnificent platform for football across the city. With both this year’s finalists emerging from the same division, not forgetting their respective home venues are separated by the smallest of margins, it is a clash that ticks all the boxes, as LEAFA administration secretary David Ramage explains.
“It’s incredible that the two sides play their home matches within a couple of hundred yards of one another, with Sandys playing at Castleview and Edinburgh Rose at Duddingston, so that will add that extra incentive to the match itself,” Ramage said. “The association is absolutely delighted because it is the first time we can remember that two LEAFA teams have contested the final.
“We’d like to think a lot of people from the Lothians and Edinburgh will come along to show their support because they are two teams that play very good football. This is the biggest trophy behind the Scottish Amateur Cup, so it’s a great occasion.”
Sandys will make their second consecutive appearance after finishing runners-up to last year’s winners Doune Castle, a match club secretary Patrick Mason believes his players didn’t do themselves any justice in. However, this year represents an opportunity for the Craigmillar outfit to exorcise those demons and underline the strength of the amateur game within the Edinburgh region.
Mason said: “We have to concentrate on what happens out on the pitch. I felt that we froze last year and Doune Castle were the far better team on the day. We seem to have played at our best in the big games this season so hopefully this will be no different, but Edinburgh Rose are a really good side so it will be a very difficult game.
“I’ve noticed in amateur football when there are meaningless games at this stage of the season that sometimes teams don’t even turn up which makes a mockery of it all really, but this isn’t the case for both Edinburgh Rose and ourselves. I think our association, football wise, is way ahead of the other leagues around Scotland and the quality in the Lothians and Edinburgh leagues is fantastic.”
The Sandys players are likely to be led out by former player Paul Scott’s family after the defender was tragically murdered in February 2011.
Opponents Edinburgh Rose, on the other hand, will be confident of accomplishing cup glory after a season which has shown much promise on all fronts. However, Rose’s Les Woolard hopes his players don’t become victims of their own success as they continue to battle for both league and cup honours.
Woolard said: “We’ve had to play away from home in every round so it has been that bit tougher. We’re looking forward to the game and the players are excited about it now. We’re playing every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday and it’s maybe beginning to catch up on us a little, but the players will be giving 100 per cent.
“We’ve got a couple of injuries but we’ll wait until after our match on Saturday before making a decision. We’ve got a squad of 21 and some of them will have to miss out which is a shame. I was at the final last year and saw Sandys – they didn’t play well so they will be looking to make amends.”
Admission for Tuesday’s match (May 7) at Almondvale Stadium (kick-off 7pm) is £5 for adults and £2 for concessions.