For historical significance, consider these knocked into a cocked hat by a different field combat that delivered the greatest upset in the 149-year annals of the Scottish Cup. Witnessed courtesy of Mick Kennedy’s West of Scotland league leaders Darvel putting to the sword top flight Aberdeen. A fourth round 1-0 humbling for the Pittodrie side by Ayrshire hosts a full five tiers below them that surely will mark their manager Jim Goodwin’s Waterloo.
A 19th-minute Jordan Kirkpatrick strike made the difference in a first period wherein Aberdeen were abysmal as Darvel were driven and deft. The part-timers survived some late pressure from their visitors, but there was no siege. Not from this shapeless, inspirationally-challenged Aberdeen team. Indeed, the goal conceded said everything about their abject levels of application and appetite. The move that engineered it began with Craig Truesdale haring down the left flank and shrugging off Yiber Ramadani as if he were a troublesome fly. Hayden Coulson managed to head away his resultant cross, but no other Aberdeen player even seemed to recognise danger remained. As a result, Willie Robertson was able to pick up the loose ball and feed Kirkpatrick. Slow to be closed down, his delightful low drive on the spin was true, but it was helped to sneak in by taking a nick off Coulson.
Aberdeen had so little about them across the entire evening it was jaw-dropping. The antithesis of hosts who played as if their very lives depended on the outcome. Certainly, what they produced will remain with them for all their remaining days. As it will haunt Goodwin, and an Aberdeen plunged back into their darkest ages by the spectre of their all-time most unforgivable result.
Fitting, since the sense of stepping back in time was palpable and not merely through being pitched into Recreation Park’s, uhm, rudimentary facilities. And this was even before the home denizens numbering more than 2,300 – the town of Darvel only has a population of 4,000 – began to assemble for standing room only. There weren’t stands, beyond a sort-of chalet hut housing a select few. Even the temporary platform erected behind the goal for the occasion – at a five-figure cost – didn’t have seats. They are hardy in this part of the world. And have long memories, the atmosphere cranked up with the tannoy blasting out Carnival De Paris, the official, eh, France 98 World Cup song, while one punter honked hard on a vuvuzela. Popularised in the 2014 South Africa finals. Then there was the Darvel faithful calling out the Aberdeen travelling support – who did not sell their full allocation as only 700 true unfortunates made the trip – for carnal relations with sheep.
What the toiling Pittodrie club, with chairman Dave Cormack notably in attendance, desperately wanted to avoid was finding themselves pulled back to the troubles of early last year. A Scottish Cup exit then precipitated an 11-month managerial tenure being ended as Stephen Glass was jettisoned. Yet, the indignities he endured seem dwarfed by those that have laid Goodwin low. Since the post World Cup resumption, Aberdeen have come apart. One win in nine ahead of their Darvel disaster, last week’s 5-0 mauling away to Hearts and memories of a hideously limp loss in Kilmarnock before Christmas, especially, have threatened the Irishman’s status 11 months into his role. It meant few took for granted that his team would nimbly negotiate an invidious assignment. Aberdeen did not disappoint through not merely being wholly disappointing, but by being truly wretched. More than participation in the Scottish Cup will surely have been ended as a consequence. As Aberdeen will long struggle to live down their night, Darvel can look to live it up further with a fifth round tie at home to Falkirk in three weeks.