Tuesday 19th September, 2017 at 9:00am
I suppose if you stretch the imagination for enough, then the Betfred Cup can be seen as the modern version of the League Cup as it was known for very many years, no that’s my justification for choosing this particular match. In actual fact, if the truth be told, there isn’t a wide choice of matches where Thistle have eliminated Rangers from a major cup tournament. Going all the way back to 1921 would have been a bit extreme, even for me.
Being ultra-sensitive about any matter involving Partick Thistle, I have a point to make regarding the front cover of the chosen programme. It’s a cup semi-final played at a neutral venue, in this instance Hampden Park so the competing teams should be listed alphabetically. That’s why at the top of this article I have reversed the teams from the way they are presented on the front cover of the programme. Simple!
Thistle had qualified as winners of a group comprising Clyde, Dundee and Stirling Albion. In the 6th and final match of the group stages we required a 3-0 home win over Dundee to progress. The signs were promising as we led 2-0 at half-time. Dundee dug in, resorting to every time wasting tactic in the book. There was no such thing as “time added on” in those days. Thistle pressed relentlessly and eventually, with just five minutes remaining the vital third goal arrived, courtesy of record marksman Willie Sharp. Alex Wright notched a fourth for good measure, so Thistle had booked a place in the last eight.
Next up were Kilmarnock. Thistle won 7-4 over the two legs, so it was on to Hampden Park for the semi-final against Rangers, a tall order indeed. However, the boys in red and yellow responded magnificently and won 2-0 with goals from Bobby Howitt and Alex Wright. The full successful team was as follows:- Tommy Ledgerwood, Jimmy McGowan, Bobby Gibb, Bertie Thomson, Jimmy Davidson, Andy Kerr, Johnny MacKenzie, Bobby Howitt, Alex Wright, Willie Sharp, Jimmy Walker.
Thistle had, therefore, earned their place in the Scottish League Cup final. Alas, we were beaten 3-2 by a very strong East Fife team. There would, of course, be further cup final heart-break in 1956 and 1958 before we finally cracked it in 1971.
Let’s not detract from the great achievement by the team in winning that semi-final away back in 1953. Could there be more of the same in the near future?