The Scottish Cup is all about the making of special moments of football folklore and yet another one was woven in Methil yesterday as Highland League Brora Rangers edged their way past East Fife to make it into the last 16 for the first time.
The long journey from Sutherland had a quick reward as a 12th-minute goal from Colin Williamson was enough to win the tie for the side managed by Ross Tokely – who now has another cup upset to his name to put alongside his heroics as a player for Caley Thistle when they knocked out Celtic at the turn of the millennium.
Having already accounted for League 1 Stranraer in the previous round, Brora had proven that they had the nous and ability to pose a real threat to the Methil side for whom the 80th anniversary of their own historic success in the grand old competition has now, for the time being at least, seen a dark cloud pass over it.
Tokely expressed a mixture of pride and disbelief afterwards. “I’m just trying to take it in,” he beamed. “The boys are going crazy in the dressing room. We were under pressure in the second half, but we held on. We scored a great goal from a corner to get us in front early on.”
Asked what it meant for the club, he added: “It’s history. The chairman’s delighted. For a part-time club from the Highland League it means a lot. The players challenged themselves to beat League 1 opponents in the last round and they’ve done it again – they can be very proud of themselves.”
A boisterous travelling support who had made the trek from Sutherland were clearly intent on seriously enjoying their day out, bringing with them some throaty vocals, a drummer and piper. This cacophony of musical backing along, perhaps, with the snow covered slopes of Largo Law in the distance, seemed to make the Brora players feel right at home as they took to this game without inhibition.
Deserving of their early advantage, the breakthrough came when Gavin Morrison’s corner was headed into the net with ease by the unmarked Williamson.
The Highland League side were impressively drilled and looked physically stronger than their SPFL opponents, who put in an insipid opening 45 minutes, barely stringing a couple of passes together let alone conjuring up any chances to trouble Brora keeper Joe Malin.
Darren Young’s side predictably improved after the break, but a trio of near things from Pat Slattery, Chris Duggan and Scott Linton – the latter seeing a free-kick smack the post – gave rise to a growing sense that no matter how hard they might try it just wasn’t going to be their day.
Sure enough, they could not find that decisive clinical touch and, after Jonathan Page headed one last chance wide in time added on, the wild celebrations of the Brora supporters and players, sound-tracked by the skirl of the pipes, kicked into overdrive.