At least one Falkirk man is pitch-perfect!
We had our first chat with Graeme Black, Falkirk fan and guitarist with The State Broadcasters here, so if you want to catch up, we’ll wait…..
Okay, today Graeme is going to tell us about his favourite Falkirk game and his feelings about their Scottish Cup final appearances.
So Graeme, what is your favourite game?
GB: It would have to be two games… the Scottish Cup semi finals from 1997 against Celtic. I can’t really separate them for how Falkirk fans feel about them. The context was, we were about to walk into provisional liquidation and yet, we still had a really good team. McAllister was back…and of course, the Celtic forward line was phenomenal at that time.
Falkirk shouldn’t have had the chance but then, Celtic went a goal up and we got the equaliser which was great. Then, you get the saying “you never get a second chance against the big teams” for the replay but we did and the goal has a great story.
Paul McGrillen got the goal but didn’t know anything about it until the next day because he got knocked out whilst scoring.
Our recollection of the replay was that the rain made it a horrible night but there wasn’t any really Celtic onslaught to get the goal back?
GB: No, we scored in twenty odd minutes and I don’t recall any heart in mouth moments as the game wore on. Yes Celtic had more of the ball but nothing much in front of goal. What people don’t generally appreciate about the run is that we beat three Premier League teams on the run to the final. Killie only played a poor Dundee United on their run to the final.
We beat Dunfermline, Raith Rovers, both top flight teams at the time, and then Celtic in the semis. It was just so unexpected. We were a Premier League team in everything but name at the time. The following season we got to the semi as well.
We were far and away the best team in the First Division but as the powers that be decided we wouldn’t be able to do what we had to in order to get promoted, we stayed down. It was hard to find the motivation every week but we still finished second or third and our cup runs showed we were a good side.
Back to the game, beating a team with a guy like Di Canio, who to opposition fans was so unlikeable was an amazing thing. Its just a tragedy that the final ended in such a bad way. It was a real shame for McAllister.
It’s the classic story, started out with us, went to Chelsea and then around, was back at his boyhood club and to be in the final in his last season, you just think “why didn’t they just let him win?”
Of course, Kilmarnock fans would say the same; Ray Montgomery, their captain was a long time servant of the club and may have been in a similar situation. Was it unfortunate that you were playing Killie? Okay, it was the best chance you would have to win the cup but did it make the disappointment seem bigger?
GB:The other big difference was that it had been 40 years since we had been in a Cup Final. My uncle never went to the 57 final so a whole generation of fans had never been to the final and you thought then, this may never happen again. That is something fans of big clubs will never get.
I really fear the devaluation of the cup tournaments because it will rip another part out of what being a fan is all about.
The cup final last year was weird because we had just avoided relegation and had a terrible season. I felt we played well in the final but it was typical for a Hughes side, we never looked like scoring.
Yes, you would have a better chance against one of the other sides but saying that, I would have take Rangers in the ’98 final. We lost to Hearts in the semi and of course, they went on to win the cup and I think we would have as well.
Yeah, Rangers imploded, they collapsed in the league race and with the wheels falling off, Hearts picked them off in the final.
GB:Yeah, that was a chance missed but there is a lot to be said for playing Celtic or Rangers in the semi. Mind you, it was great playing Dunfermline in last year’s semi final. The rivalry is extraordinarily vicious.
It is particularly satisfying because they are honking. That semi was something else, we were bad but they were unbelievably bad. So last years semi was good because it was the Pars but it is EASIER, not easy, EASIER in a semi-final against the big two…you expect them to win the finals but maybe in a semi, they arent as focused.
Yes, at the time of the semi they probably still have their mind on the league campaign in the semi’s but the final should be the showcase.
GB: Last years final, 99 times out of 100, Novo does his usual and hits the corner flag. I didn’t feel the same about last years final, it was strange.
As we will read later, Greame’s band were due to play a gig in Glasgow that night so that may have caused him to have split feelings about the day. A taster of The State Broadcasters in the live environment can be seen below: