Two men who played in Glasgow Hawks’ first Scottish Cup final back in 1998 have been reminiscing with just a few days to go until the current crop from Old Anniesland take on Heriot’s at Broadwood Stadium.
Fergus Wallace and Scott Hutton both played in the pack 16 years ago as the Hawks, in their first year in existence, completed a brilliant league and cup double by seeing off Kelso 36-14 at Murrayfield.
The club had only been founded less than 12 months earlier following the amalgamation of Glasgow Academicals and GHK; in the 1997/98 season they were the new kids on the block and such an exciting team to watch.
They won Division Two and the cup with the likes of Glenn Metcalfe, Tommy Hayes, Mike Beckham and Derek Stark involved while, famously, they also defeated Toulouse 37-15 that year.
Wallace, now business development manager with Glasgow Warriors and whose brother Murray also played in the 1998 final, recounts: “I just remember it was such a fun team to play in and everyone really worked hard for each other. When you looked around the dressing room you knew that you had some really quality players around you and we wanted to make a name for Hawks in Scottish rugby in the first season.
“We must have really annoyed Kelso that season because when we played them in the league down at Poynder Park we were losing 25-0 at one point before coming back to win and the same thing happened in the return game.
“We had to win to clinch the title, but somehow we found ourselves 25-0 down at half-time. We knew we had to improve and, thankfully, in the second half we blew them away and won the league.
“In terms of the final itself, the main thing I remember, as a back-row forward not used to kicking, was that I took a quick ‘22’ drop out at one point. That in itself shocked a few of my team-mates, but the fact that, as a right footer, it was with my left foot was even more amazing!
“I look back on that time with great fondness and that season certainly helped raise the profile of players like Glenn Metcalfe and help them on the way to Scotland caps.”
Hutton, who now lives in Dubai, added: “That 1998 team was incredible and was fantastic to be part of.
“There was such a confidence in the team, but you only have to look at the teamsheet to see why. It was also our first cup final so there was a real excitement about it.”
Wallace did not play in any more finals for Hawks, but Hutton was lucky enough to play in another three.
He said: “In 2000 we lost to Boroughmuir 35-10 and I was captain. ’Muir had played very well all year and Derek Stark, who won it with us in 1998, was playing for them.
“We lost to Hawick in extra-time in 2002 and I played with a fractured sternum. It was very tight and we should have won it in normal time, but ultimately lost 20-17. In 2004, having won one and lost two, I was determined to make sure we won it again and, thankfully, we came out on top against Dundee HSFP, 29-17.”
Since then, Hawks have been in one more final, beating Edinburgh Accies 24-13 in the 2006-07 season, and Wallace and Hutton are delighted to see the club back in the showpiece event.
Wallace added: “The club have done really well over the last two seasons to get promoted to the top flight again, stay there and get to this final.
“They have a number of good young players involved and it will be good to see how they get on.”
Hutton concluded: “It is great to see the club in another final, as it has been a while, and they have gone through some tough times. I was lucky enough to see some highlights of the semi-final and that was a tight one at Netherdale against Gala, but coming out on top of a game like that is great for morale so I hope the Hawks lads remember that and build on it for finals day.”