EAST Stirlingshire, Alloa Athletic, Arbroath, Berwick Rangers, Queen’s Park: the Spartan Army have trampled on all of them at some point in their 63-year history. On Saturday, when a penalty in each half earned them a place in the fourth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup, they added Clyde to their long list of victims.
Whatever next? An Edinburgh derby perhaps? “I’m a Hibs fan so Hibs away would be absolutely brilliant,” said Kevin Motion, whose two conversions from the spot in a hard-fought match at Ainslie Park put Spartans into today’s draw.
“Any Premier League team would be magnificent for the club. You want that sort of glamour tie.”
No-one will fancy taking on Spartans, especially away from home. Clyde are the first league club to be knocked out by them since their move to a shiny new community academy in 2008, but they won’t be the last. As the surname of their latest hero would suggest, they are going places.
Neither of the two penalties was necessary, as the Clyde manager, Barry Ferguson, complained later, but they were deserved.
The first came after just 13 minutes, when Ryan Frances brought down Jack Beesley. The other was late in the second half, when Brian McQueen’s inexplicable sliding tackle felled Willie Bremner.
With his left foot, Motion put one in each corner to make up for the previous round, when he was sent off in a 3-3 draw with East Kilbride. Had his team-mates not won the replay 5-1 in his absence, he wouldn’t even have had the opportunity.
“Sorry about letting you down in the last round, but I’ve got you through this one,” he said with a smile.
It was all too much for Ferguson. When some Clyde supporters heckled their team, he responded by telling them to “shut up”, or words to that effect. The referee sent him to the stand, or at least to the railing alongside Spartans’ artificial pitch, which he leaned on for the rest of the match.
When he appeared in the media room afterwards, he was still fuming, not so much with his dismissal as with his players, most of whom he promised to release in the next transfer window. “They are lucky January’s two months away,” said Ferguson.
Spartans captain Kevin Sivewright was also sent off, for protesting too strongly about a late foul on Bremner, but it would take more than that to spoil Spartans’ day.
They didn’t dominate possession, but they fashioned the better chances and they were well worth the victory, as their emotional manager, Dougie Samuel, reflected afterwards.
In recent years, Spartans have become almost a new club with their new facilities, their youth development and their ambitious plans to join the big boys, but this result was redolent of the old days at nearby City Park. In 2004 and 2006, the club claimed no fewer than four league scalps.
“The teams that got to the fourth round twice in the space of three years are part of the folklore here, part of the fabric of this football club,” said Samuel. “Without those cup runs, we probably wouldn’t have had the ability to create this project and build this wonderful new home.
“Our players will enjoy this. They will look forward to the draw. It probably won’t be till they are older or retired that they realise this was something special.”