We played our first SPL games on the same day that in England they were playing last season's Cup Final. We had ours 5 days before Xmas Day, and a belter it was too, with Celtic and Hearts treating fans to a 3-3 draw that deserved a more satisfying finish than a penalty shoot-out.

19 December was the start, and probably also the finish, of my season. I got a ticket for Stranraer v Albion Rovers at Stair Park. For sure, I'm lucky to be living somewhere that was, for a week or so, in Tier 1. I'd guess that about 100 spectators were at the match, but we'll not be seeing another for quite a while.

By the way, football is just a game. It's meant to be fun. If people are going to take it so seriously that they start fighting and protesting when their team doesn't win then they are missing the point. I doubt very much that Bill Shankly ever made that comment about fitba being more important than life and death but if he did say it I'm sure he was only joking. 

Some SPL players, notably 7 from Rangers, have demonstrated contempt for the lockdown measures that have been, and are still being observed by most of the population, but Celtic's decision to fly to Dubai to train was the first time such arrogance has been demonstrated by a club rather then by individuals. While their season continued, all football other than the SPL and Championship was suspended from midnight on 11/12 January till 20 March and it looks very unlikely that any of the Leagues outwith the SPFL will be played to a finish.

The League Cup reached the quarter-final stage without the holders, who were ambushed on their own ground by a bunch of gallant Highlanders, and then we reached the semis without their only serious rivals thanks to some heroes fae Paisley.

 

In the event the teams that made it to the Final were, pleasingly, St Johnstone and Livingston, and it was the Saintees that took the trophy home to Perth after winning the match 1-0.

PREMIER LEAGUE

10 APRIL

CELTIC  6-0  LIVINGSTON

HAMILTON  0-1  DUNDEE UTD

KILMARNOCK  2-2  ROSS CO

MOTHERWELL  1-0  St MIRREN

St JOHNSTONE  0-1 ABERDEEN

Every position in the top half looks just about settled already.  Celtic enjoyed some shooting practice ready for next week's Cup tie at Ibrox by demolishing Livvy, who seem to have run out of puff but can congratulate themselves on a really good season nevertheless. Down below, a home defeat was the last thing that Hamilton Accies needed with Killie and Ross County sharing a point apiece at Rugby Park.

                          P       GD       Pts     PPG                             

Rangers          33      +68      89      2.70

Celtic               34      +48      72      2.12

Hibernian        33      +13      56      1.70

Aberdeen        34       +1       52      1.53

Livingston       34      -7        44      1.29

St J'stone        34       -6       4     1.18

Dundee U        34     -14       42      1.24

St Mirren         34      -8        40      1.18

Motherwell     34     -18       38      1.12

Ross Co           34     -33       29      0.85

Kilmarnock     34     -14       29      0.85

Hamilton         34     -30       27      0.80

11 APRIL

RANGERS  v  HIBERNIAN

CHAMPIONSHIP

3 APRIL

ARBROATH 2-1  ALLOA

DUNFERMLINE  0-0  HEARTS

Alloa had no choice but to go all out for the win at Gayfield, but Arbroath's late winner means the Wasps now have only a slim chance of avoiding the drop. At the top, the Pars didn't concede any goals after a bad week, but didn't score any either in a low-key contest against leaders Hearts.

6 APRIL

AYR UTD  0-3  DUNDEE

MORTON  1-4  INVERNESS CT

Two seriously big away wins set the cat among the pigeons at both ends of the table. It was a great night for Arbroath, and a bad one for Dunfermline, even though neither were playing.

9 APRIL

HEARTS  6-0  ALLOA

Well, that's pretty much settled top and bottom place. The Wasps were in the game till the 26th minute when Liam Boyce scored; after that the Jam Tarts filled their boots, but Alloa have done well to last this long in the second tier and have no reason not to be proud of themselves. Attention now turns to the play-off positions at both top and bottom, with all of the middle 8 sides still having an interest.

10 APRIL

AYR UTD  1-1  DUNFERMLINE

DUNDEE  1-1  MORTON

QUEEN of the SOUTH  1-1  INVERNESS CT

RAITH  2-2  ARBROATH

Four draws means that updating the League table is very easy this evening, and also means that Hearts are champions. Jambos will be raising a toast not only to their own team but also to Morton and Arbroath for their gallant draws at Dundee and Raith. 

                             P        GD      Pts      PPG

Hearts               24      +32       50      2.09

Raith                  24      +12       37      1.54

Dundee             24        +6        37      1.54

Inverness         24        +8        34      1.42

Dunfermline     23       +2        32       1.39

QoS                    23       -8        31       1.35

Ayr                     24        -2        27      1.13

Arbroath           24        -9        26      1.08

Morton              24      -11       26       1.08

Alloa                  24      -30       18       0.75

LEAGUE ONE

1 APRIL

DUMBARTON  0-1  AIRDRIE

EAST FIFE  1-0  CLYDE

Consistency is a word that seems alien to every team in League One; good results being continually followed by bad, and vice versa.  Nothing is cut & dried yet. A wee run of wins now would easily send anybody's team soaring up the table to safety, into the heart of the promotion race or both.

6 APRIL

AIRDRIE  2-1  FALKIRK

CLYDE  1-1  COVE

DUMBARTON  0-0 MONTROSE

EAST FIFE  2-2  PARTICK

FORFAR  1-1  PETERHEAD

Falkirk are making hard work of this promotion lark, and were the only team to lose in League 1 on the night. Airdrie's win puts them back into the play-off race again after they had previously been falling like a stone. Late equalisers saved the bacon of Forfar and Partick Thistle.

8 APRIL

CLYDE  3-0  FORFAR

DUMBARTON  2-1  EAST FIFE

Forfar are now seriously adrift after losing to Clyde, whose win has put a fair distance between themselves and the bottom of the table. With Dumbarton winning as well it all added up to a bad old night for the Loons.

10 APRIL

COVE  1-0  DUMBARTON

FALKIRK  2-1  CLYDE

FORFAR  1-2  EAST FIFE

MONTROSE  2-2  AIRDRIE

PETERHEAD  0-3  PARTICK

It's just about impossible to accurately predict what happens  from week to week in this division, but for once the results were more or less as expected, which means more bad news for Forfar. With the split due in 2 matches' time, there's a lot to play for. Airdrie battled back at Links Park and equalised in injury time, only to find as they returned to their dressing room that they had slipped into the bottom half by a point.

                          P      GD      Pts       PPG

Falkirk            16     +14     31        1.94

Cove               16      +9       28        1.75

Partick           15      +8       24        1.60

Montrose       16      +5       24        1.50

East Fife         16      +1      24        1.50

Airdrie            16      -4       23        1.44

Peterhead      16      -6       20        1.25

Clyde               15      -9      17        1.13

Dumbarton     16      -8      16        1.00

Forfar              16    -15      11        0.69

 LEAGUE TWO

3 APRIL

ANNAN  0-3  ELGIN

COWDENBEATH  0-1  ALBION R

QUEEN'S PARK  1-0  STIRLING A

Comeback kid Ryan Stevenson scored from the spot at Central Park to give the Wee Rovers a vital 3 points, taking them above Cowdenbeath in the table. Annan have been out of form since returning to the pitch, and were comfortably beaten at Galabank by aspiring Elgin.

 

The title race is as good as over. Queen's Park have won 11 and drawn 2 of their league games and are happily cruising  into League One.

6 APRIL

BRECHIN  1-1  STENHOUSEMUIR

EDINBURGH C  1-1  ANNAN

ELGIN  2-1  STRANRAER

QUEEN'S PARK  3-0 COWDENBEATH

STIRLING A  1-1  ALBION R

At this stage in the season nerves begin to jangle, which might explain why Brechin, Albion Rovers and Stranraer all missed penalties. All of them could have done with the extra points that successful kicks might have brought; Brechin especially. Meanwhile, Cowdenbeath are on a bad run that could yet end in tears. Their problems were made worse by a heroic point each for Annan and the Wee Rovers.

8 APRIL

STENHOUSEMUIR  1-0  COWDENBEATH

Youngster Callum Yeats' first goal for Stenny means even squeakier erses in Cowdenbeath. Brechin fans, desperate for some rare good news, will be delighted that Cowden lost again. 

10 APRIL

ANNAN  1-2  STIRLING A

BRECHIN  2-4  ALBION R

COWDENBEATH  1-0  ELGIN

STENHOUSEMUIR  1-3  QUEEN'S PARK

STRANRAER  0-1  EDINBURGH C

 

It's surely bye bye to Brechin unless there should be another let-off like the one they got last season, or, alternatively, they leave behind the form they have been in for the last 4 years and pull off a surprise against Kelty or Brora. But hats off to Albion Rovers for another great escape, and to Cowdenbeath for a coupon-busting and very welcome win today. As for Queen's Park, it doesn't matter whether they step out in Glasgow, Falkirk or Stenhousemuir; they still win. 

                         P       GD      Pts        PPG

Queen's Pk    15     +27       41        2.73

Embra C         15     +14       29        1.93

Stirling           15     +10       29        1.93

Elgin               15     +12       28        1.87

Stranraer       15      +5         22       1.47

Stenny           15       -2        19        1.27

Albion R         15    -14        14        0.93

Cowden          15    -15        12        0.80

Annan             15    -10        11        0.73

Brechin          15     -27         5         0.33

The 2021 Scottish FA Cup couldn't start till November, and we've only now completed the Third Round. Sometimes, a summer season in Scotland looks to be the way forward. For myself, I'd definitely rather sit in the stand at Stair Park watching the sunshine over the loch than freeze through the winter months and go home in the dark. The number of sides competing this season was significantly fewer than usual. Last season I watched a tie on a sunny September afternoon at Raydale Park between Gretna 2008 and Hill of Beath Hawthorn. This season's competition went ahead without Gretna taking part. 

PRELIMINARY ROUND 1

28 NOVEMBER

LOTHIAN THV  2-1  St CUTHBERT (aet)

PENICUIK  2-3  MUSSELBURGH (aet)

A brave effort from Kirkcudbright's St Cuthbert Wanderers and the removal of last year's giant killers Penicuik were the stories of the two ties.

PRELIMINARY ROUND 2

12 DECEMBER

BANKS o DEE  6-1  VALE of LEITHEN

BLACKBURN UTD  1-1  CS STROLLERS 

(CSS won on penalties)

BSC GLASGOW  2-3  HADDINGTON

CLACHNACUDDIN  1-2  CAL BRAVES

DEVERONVALE  1-4  CAMELON

DUNDONALD  4-2  EASTHOUSES

DUNIPACE  1-3  BERWICK

E STIRLINGSHIRE  5-0  INVERURIE

EDINBURGH UNI  1-2  TRANENT

GALA  6-0  WIGTOWN

HILL of BEATH  2-1  WHITEHILL

HUNTLY  3-0  DALBEATTIE

JEANFIELD  3-1  STIRLING UNI

KEITH  5-1  FORT WILLIAM

LOTHIAN THV  4-4  LOSSIEMOUTH

(Lothian won on penalties)

NAIRN  4-0  THREAVE

NEWTONGRANGE  0-4  ROTHES

NEWTON STEWART  0-3  BROXBURN

SPARTANS  2-1  EAST KILBRIDE

STRATHSPEY  0-4  BUCKIE

TYNECASTLE  2-3  CUMBERNAULD C

13 DECEMBER

GLASGOW UNI  1-2  LINLITHGOW

16 DECEMBER

PRESTON  ATH 3-2  HAWICK RAU

COLDSTREAM  0-2  BO'NESS

21 DECEMBER

FORMARTINE  2-1  TURRIFF

WICK  3-1  MUSSELBURGH (aet)

Haddington and Camelon of the EoSL produced the results of the round, while renowned Cup fighters Banks o Dee demonstrated that Vale of Leithen are a side that would probably struggle at any level.

ROUND ONE

26 DECEMBER

ALBION R  0-3  BUCKIE

BERWICK  0-3  STIRLING A

BRECHIN  2-3  LINLITHGOW

COWDENBEATH  2-0  WICK

EDINBURGH C  3-1  CAL BRAVES

ELGIN  4-0  CS STROLLERS

GALA  1-2  ANNAN

HADDINGTON  1-2  FORMARTINE

KEITH  4-2  HILL of BEATH (aet)

KELTY  2-1  JEANFIELD

LOTHIAN THV  0-3  BANKS o DEE

NAIRN  0-0  BROXBURN

(Nairn won on pens)

ROTHES  1-3  FRASERBURGH

 STENHOUSEMUIR  4-1  PRESTON ATH

STRANRAER   5-0  SPARTANS

TRANENT  4-1  E STIRLINGSHIRE

28 DECEMBER

DUNDONALD  1-3 QUEEN'S PARK  (aet)

1 JANUARY

BONNYRIGG  5-2  BO'NESS

6 JANUARY

HUNTLY  3-1  CUMBERNAULD C

Home defeats for Albion Rovers and Brechin against Highland and Lowland League opponents were no surprise at all, but Tranent's demolition of East Stirlingshire and Banks o Dee's easy win against Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale were certainly notable scores.

 

ROUND TWO

8 JANUARY

QUEEN'S PARK  0-3  QUEEN of the SOUTH

If you watched this match on television you'll know that Queen's Park let themselves down. The Doonhamers were no better till Willie Gibson belted in a goal just before half time but in the second half they played with confidence and a bit of skill, while the Spiders laboured and never looked likely to score till Jai Quitongo came on as substitute, too late to make any difference.

9 JANUARY

 ALLOA   2-3  COVE

DUNDEE  3-2  BONNYRIGG (aet)

EAST FIFE  5-1  TRANENT

FORFAR  4-1  LINLITHGOW

FRASERBURGH  2-1  BANKS o DEE

KELTY 2-3  STRANRAER

The televised match between Dundee and Bonnyrigg Rose was as tense and exciting as Friday's had been dull. Rose were within seconds of going through before Dundee scored a 95th minute equaliser. Stranraer struck a blow for the SPL by coming back from two down to beat Lowland League champions Kelty Hearts at Stark's Park. Ruairi Paton's last minute goal was the difference in the end. Not only did all 12 sides score in the 6 ties that were played on the day, but in every one the team that conceded the first goal went on to win the game.

Tongue-twister fans will have been delighted with 5 goals for East Fife and 4 for Forfar.

10 JANUARY

AIRDRIEONIANS  0-1  EDINBURGH C

A header by substitute Ouzy See saw off the home side and sent underdogs City into the Third Round.

23 MARCH

ARBROATH  1-2  FALKIRK

BRORA  2-1  HEARTS

BUCKIE 2-3  INVERNESS CT

 DUMBARTON   4-0  HUNTLY

ELGIN 0-4  AYR UTD

FORMARTINE   1-1   ANNAN 

(Formartine won on pens)

KEITH  0-2  CLYDE

MORTON  0-0  DUNFERMLINE

(Morton won on pens)

NAIRN   1-7  MONTROSE

PARTICK  3-0  COWDENBEATH

PETERHEAD  0-1  STENHOUSEMUIR

STIRLING A   0-2   RAITH

The Big Result was Brora's win over Hearts at Dudgeon Park. The Jam Tarts didn't have their strongest side out in the first half and Brora are a terrific team at Highland League level but even so Stranraer must have been anticipating a trip to the capital rather than to Sutherland in the next round. 

Elsewhere, Montrose filled their boots at Nairn and earned another trip North, to the Broch, in the next round. Formartine United also qualified to represent the Highland League after winning a low-quality penalty shootout against Annan. Their reward was a potentially sizzling home tie against Motherwell that the folk of Pitmedden would, I'm sure, have loved to be able to attend.

ROUND THREE

2 APRIL

ROSS CO  1-3  INVERNESS CT

Both these Highland sides have other onions to fry but they put plenty of effort and energy into their Cup tie. Caley Thistle deserved their win because they were the better side. Teenager Daniel Mackay scored a cracking solo goal; let's hope that nobody from the Auld Firm was watching with a view to taking him away so that we never see him get another. 

3 APRIL

AYR UTD 0-1  CLYDE

BRORA  1-3  STRANRAER (aet)

CELTIC  3-0  FALKIRK

 DUMBARTON   0-1  ABERDEEN

DUNDEE  0-1  St JOHNSTONE

DUNDEE UTD  2-1  PARTICK

EAST FIFE  1-2  MORTON (aet)

FORFAR  2-2  EDINBURGH C

(Forfar win on penalties)

FORMARTINE  0-5  MOTHERWELL

FRASERBURGH  2-4  MONTROSE

HAMILTON  0-3  St MIRREN

 LIVINGSTON   2-1  RAITH (aet)

STENHOUSEMUIR  0-4  KILMARNOCK

Clyde took an early lead at Somerset Park and defended it to the very end, while Partick couldn't hold on at Tannadice, where a defensive stramash gifted Dundee United a winning goal in injury time.

 

Having seen off the Lowland League champs in the last round, Stranraer dispatched the Highland League's top side as well, in spite of being behind from the 26th to the 88th minute. 

 

A hat trick for Kyle Lafferty at Stenny meant that Kilmarnock's emergency signing had bagged 6 goals in his first 3 games. 

4 APRIL

RANGERS  4-0  COVE

It's braw news for everybody else that the Gruesome Twosome are now drawn against each other, because one of them will be going out of the competition before the quarter-finals. At least Cove's fans were spared a trip to Ibrox to see their team's inevitable defeat, and if they were watching on the telly they could switch it off as soon as they'd seen enough.

5 APRIL

QUEEN of the SOUTH  1-3  HIBERNIAN

The Hi-Bees stepped on the gas for half an hour in the middle of the tie, and left the Doonhamers trailing three goals behind. For Kevin Nisbet this means the joy of a return to Stair Park, from where he and his then Dunfermline team mates slipped away in disgrace after being knocked out of the Cup last season.

ROUND FOUR

16 APRIL

FORFAR  v  DUNDEE UTD

17 APRIL

KILMARNOCK MONTROSE

MOTHERWELL MORTON

RANGERS  CELTIC

St JOHNSTONE CLYDE

St MIRREN  INVERNESS CT

STRANRAER  v  HIBERNIAN

18 APRIL

ABERDEEN LIVINGSTON

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