Football in Scotland
Football is a very important part of cultural life in Scotland for many people and this Sunday, (16th March) sees the first major domestic final of the season, The Scottish League Cup. This is a ‘knockout’ tournament, the format of which is similar throughout world football. Teams are drawn against each other and play one match, the winner of which advances to the next round. Now, this Sunday, the two remaining teams will compete for silverware.
The first point of interest about this match is that Celtic, possibly the most famous team from Scotland, are not involved in it. They were disposed of at the Greenock Morton at the earliest opportunity setting the tone for a season of disappointment, in the eyes of many of their own supporters.
Instead, the final will be contested by Aberdeen and Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Aberdeen have a rich history in this tournament, having won it on five previous occasions. However, a long memory is required to bring to mind their last victory, in the 1995-96 season. Not only has it been eighteen years since their last final victory but it has also been fourteen years since their last final appearance. While the club has a proud history (they remain the only Scottish team to have own two European trophies), their fans have had precious little to celebrate of late.
Regardless of the outcome of the match, their opponents Inverness Caley Thistle have already made history. This is their debut appearance in a major final. Caley only entered top-level football in 1994 and since then have had a remarkable journey from the doldrums of the third division to their premier league where they are now firmly entrenched.
Opinion is divided as to who the victor will be. On paper, Aberdeen appear a much stronger prospect, on an imperious run of form which has seen them twice beat Celtic in the last month. The forty thousand fans they will bring are expectant. Inverness are clearly the underdogs however the beauty of the cup is in its unpredictability. Once the teams step on to the pitch current form becomes less important and history largely irrelevant.
You can watch the match on BBC 1. Kick-off is at 2.30 on Sunday 16th March.