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The curious case of Auchinleck Talbot

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#1 jaybee

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Posted 27 May 2011 - 09:43 AM

article taken from stv sport

You would be hard pushed to find the town of Auchinleck on any map, yet the small Ayrshire village, situated 15 miles from Ayr, is host to one of the most successful teams in Scottish non-league football. On Sunday, they are looking to add further success to their impressive roll of honour.

If you mention junior football to people that don’t follow that level of the game to any great effort, it’s guaranteed they’ll know the name of at least one team and odds are that team will be Auchinleck Talbot. So to many, it won’t be a shock they will take their place yet again on the Scottish Junior Cup Final stage for the 10th time this weekend.

East Region side Musselburgh Athletic will meet them at Rugby Park to try and stop them from winning their ninth – yes, ninth – crown as Scottish junior football’s top dogs. If Musselburgh prevail, they would join a very short list in preventing Auchlinleck from achieving that feat.

In football terms, the achievements of Talbot don’t necessarily add up. They hail from a town with a population of approximately 3,500, yet manage to outgun Pollok, Petershill and Linlithgow Rose when it comes to honours, particularly when it comes to a competition as prestigious as the Scottish Junior Cup.

Jim O’Donnell played for the club for six years between 1984 and 1990 and won three Junior Cup gongs with Talbot, adding to the one he won with East Kilbride Thistle in 1983. He puts Talbot’s secret down to the support of the people of the village in comparison to how supporters treat teams from more a urban environment.

O’Donnell said: “For me, it’s the village. No question. The people of Auchinleck are second to none and they hold that club in the highest of esteem. Never mind the Old Firm, the club are given such priority that the players are put on a pedestal, if you like and you are treated so well by everybody.

“Everything is geared towards the Scottish Junior Cup and winning it and on a personal note, I call it ‘the home of Scottish junior football’ and everybody I’ve said that to can see why when they arrive at Beechwood Park.

“When I won it as a player with the club the first time, we had an open top bus going through the village and considering its size, it took us a good hour to get from one end of the town to the other. The next year was exactly the same as well and that, for me, shows just how special it is to win it.

“Every time the club has won the Scottish Junior Cup, it’s celebrated like it’s the first time every time; even now when you look at the success they’ve had down the years. I managed Pollok to the cup in 1995 and there were great scenes and a dinner for everyone connected with the club.

“The following year, we reached the final, but lost, but there was great discord before the final when a similar function wouldn’t take place because it clashed with bingo that was on in the social club that night. The mentality of the Glasgow clubs, for me, is the team isn’t the be all and end all. In Auchinleck, it’s a very different way of thinking.”

“Anywhere else I’ve been in junior football down the years, it’s just not the same, even being part of a club in the sixth biggest town in Scotland in East Kilbride when they won it their one and only time, the mentality just isn’t the same.”

Until 1986, the club had only won the Junior Cup once, when they defeated Petershill 3-2 in what the late Bob Crampsey described as “the greatest ever final”. However that changed under the stewardship of Willie Knox, who took over Talbot in 1977, but didn’t win the “big prize” until nine years later, when they came from 2-0 down to Pollok to win 3-2 at Hampden.

They needed a replay to see off Ayrshire rivals Kilbirnie Ladeside in the final the next year, beating them 1-0 after a 1-1 draw in the first game, before clinching three in a row in 1988 with a slender 1-0 triumph over Petershill.

More success followed in beating Newtongrange Star 1-0 in 1991 then one final time under Knox in 1992 when they thrashed Glenafton Athletic 4-0 to clinch at that time, a record breaking sixth Scottish Junior Cup.

Yet again, under current manager Tommy Sloan, they’ve added crowns in 2006 and 2009 beating Bathgate Thistle and Clydebank respectively by 2-1 scorelines on both occasions. As they head into their 10th final, you would be hard pushed to find anyone betting against the Ayrshire cup experts, when they face Musselburgh.

The Scottish Sun’s Scott Campbell has covered the juniors for 12 years and suggests there may be a psychological edge to their success in the competition, given how synonymous they are in winning the tournament on numerous occasions.

“There seems to be an aura about Auchinleck Talbot, particularly when it comes to the Junior Cup and it’s almost like their reputation goes before them“, Scott said. “Given their name and their history, it could be that alone would mean the tie is won before the opposition go out and play them.

“Not surprisingly Talbot are odds on again to win the trophy this year with Musselburgh priced at 7/1 and those are the longest odds I’ve ever seen for a Junior Cup Final. Certainly as long as I can remember, so as far as the bookies are concerned, to them it’s a forgone conclusion.

“When you look at the Willie Knox era back in the 80s when they won five trophies in seven years, I think teams were scared of them and their reputation seemed to give them an advantage, which is almost as good as going a goal up before they’d even kicked off.

“While a lot of teams in the senior levels tend to come from urban areas, junior football is very much community based and considering Auchinleck was a mining town until the pits closed in the mid 1980s, it’s no coincidence that the club’s success came round about that time.

“A lot of guys were out of work and while going to senior football was perhaps that little more expensive, they decided to get behind their local team and I think that’s part of the success the club enjoyed at that particular time.”

Most junior fans would love to see their club in the final at least once, but Henry Dumigan will be at Rugby Park to cheer on his beloved Talbot for the ninth time in his 29 years involved with the Beechwood Park outfit as club secretary and match secretary.

Although he holds the club and the cup itself in such high affection, Henry doesn’t believe Sunday’s final will be any different to the others he’s experienced, but has his own theory as to how Auchinleck are so successful in junior football circles.

He said: “All the finals are the same in terms of importance and personally speaking, I don’t see this one being any more so than the last one or the others before. But there’s no doubt it’s a big day and everyone is looking forward to it.

“As for the secret of our success, there are many possibilities. For me, it has to start somewhere and this is where you give a nod to the committee for all the things that go on behind the scenes. A lot of the guys have been in place for a long, long time and they supply the drive for the club. That’s where it all starts, in my opinion.

“The managers we’ve had play their part as well and Willie Knox was an excellent manager for the club when he was here and the same can be said of the current manager Tommy Sloan, who is going for his third Junior Cup. But they need backing and they just can’t come in and work with anybody to achieve their ambitions. It’s a team effort all over the place.

“As a club, we’ve worked for everything we’ve ever had and the fact we draw support from some of the other villages in the surrounding area highlights the community spirit we have as a club.”

A more recent benefit to winning the Scottish Junior Cup has been the awarding of a place in the senior Scottish Cup, something Talbot know all about having tasted the “big time” last season when they reached the third round, only to lose 2-1 to Stirling Albion at Forthbank.

Henry believes extra prestige has been added to the Junior Cup now that the winners can qualify for the Scottish Cup itself.

He added: “It’s a great experience to be involved and our fans certainly loved participating in it. Unfortunately I missed the Stirling game due to a family wedding, but by all accounts, we were very unfortunate not to progress. It certainly adds to the importance of winning the cup now.”

But as the club look ahead to their date with Musselburgh on Sunday and possibly a record extending ninth Scottish title, there’s no doubt the people of Ayrshire will converge in their thousands on Kilmarnock once more wearing black and gold to cheer on what could be another piece of history in the life of Auchinleck Talbot, a true community club in every sense.

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#2 craig

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Posted 27 May 2011 - 11:47 AM

Good article and good build up to the final

#3 jaybee

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Posted 27 May 2011 - 12:39 PM

Yeah I enjoyed the article too, did you link it to twitter at all?

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#4 johnarob

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Posted 27 May 2011 - 03:15 PM

did i interpret this article correctly....pollock lost a junior cup final as they couldnt focus as the bingo had booked the big hall? :lol: :lol:

hope it's a good final jay...but at 7-1 musselburgh are surely worth a wee fiver..to get to a junior final is no mean achievment.

#5 craig

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Posted 27 May 2011 - 04:04 PM

Yeah I enjoyed the article too, did you link it to twitter at all?

Do you want me to?

#6 craig

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Posted 27 May 2011 - 04:05 PM

did i interpret this article correctly....pollock lost a junior cup final as they couldnt focus as the bingo had booked the big hall?

:lol:

#7 jaybee

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Posted 27 May 2011 - 05:09 PM

Yeah I enjoyed the article too, did you link it to twitter at all?

Do you want me to?


Might be a good way of attracting some Junior fans.

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#8 craig

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Posted 28 May 2011 - 05:45 AM

Yeah I enjoyed the article too, did you link it to twitter at all?

Do you want me to?


Might be a good way of attracting some Junior fans.

I will do

#9 jaybee

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Posted 28 May 2011 - 08:15 AM

Yeah I enjoyed the article too, did you link it to twitter at all?

Do you want me to?


Might be a good way of attracting some Junior fans.

I will do


Nice one.

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