Eyemouth United's celebrated Scottish Cup quarter final spot

FIFTY years ago today, giant-killers Eyemouth United were gearing up for one of the most important games in the club's history.

The Fishermen were preparing to take on top fist division side Kilmarnock in the Quarter-Final of the Scottish Cup, after taking the scalps of Albion Rovers and Cowdenbeath in the previous rounds.

The Berwickshire side received a bye in the first round of the 1959-60 Scottish Cup, and were then drawn at home against second division Albion Rovers.

The Lanarkshire club travelled down to Berwickshire on February 13, 1960, and came up against more than they bargained for at Eyemouth's Playing Fields Park. The East of Scotland side came out worthy winners, an all important goal from Eyemouth winger Wattie Burns separating the sides.

The original report in The Berwickshire News read: "The home supporters invaded the pitch to congratulate the Eyemouth players and how well they deserved it. Every man pulled his weight in the one goal victory over Albion Rovers in a game that had the spectators on their toes from the kick off till the final whistle."

So Eyemouth had made it through to the last 16, perhaps the end of the line many would have thought, when they were drawn at home to another second division side, Cowdenbeath. The odds were stacked against the Fishermen as the previous round's goal-scoring hero, Wattie Burns, was suffering from a stomach muscle injury and was unlikely to play.

But on February 27 Eyemouth again shocked the footballing world with a convincing win, and became the first ever non-league side to make it to the Quarter Finals of the Scottish Cup.

The following Tuesday, The Berwickshire News proudly reported: "At Playing Fields Park on Saturday afternoon, Eyemouth continued their giant killing in the Scottish Cup by soundly beating Cowdenbeath to the sound of three clear goals and thus reached the quarter finals. No excuses were offered by the Second Division club - Eyemouth were superior all round and the three goals might have been four, five or even six with any degree of luck."

A huge cup tie beckoned and most of those associated with the club were dreaming of a trip to Ibrox.

"Eyemouth United high and dry in the quarter finals of the Scottish Cup, reads more like a fairy tale but there it is," read a preview in The Berwickshire News. "The burgh is now agog with this cup-tie fever and over the weekend the main topic of conversation was the draw for the quarter finals, and what would be Eyemouth's luck. Needless to say the United's officials are hoping for a good away draw to compensate for the years of bad luck in the Scottish Cup."

The club groundsman, Mr G Tait, remarked at the time: "I hope the game will be away as we are bound to meet a first division club and it will take a load off my shoulders in view of the vast preparation that such a game would entail. Rangers away preferably."

The club's vice-president, Mr W Wilson, said: "Although it would be grand to see Eyemouth at home completing a 'hatrick' of wins, for financial reasons and the good of the club give me Rangers at Ibrox. Let the football world see how our boys can play." Mr P Craig, who worked for the town council agreed, saying: "Rangers away would be a plum, and one the club thoroughly deserves."

The draw day came and everyone associated with Eyemouth United waited with baited breath. Probably much to Mr Tait's horror, the Fishermen were to host top flight flyers Kilmarnock.

It was a tough draw - Killie, unbeaten in their last 16 games, were sitting second in the Scottish first division. But Eyemouth's reputation preceded them and Kilmarnock manager Mr Willie Waddell took no chances, and made the trip to Eyemouth prior to the game to have a look at the small pitch on which his team were to meet Berwickshire's giant killers.

Quarter-Final day dawned on March 12, 1960, and this time it really was the end of the line for the Fishermen, who put up an admirable fight in front of the 3,000 fans that lined the Playing Fields Park.

Despite going out, United certainly took all the honours with a fighting display, eventually missing out by just one goal, the final score being Eyemouth 1, Kilmarnock 2.

The match report read: "Killie could never afford to relax for one minute.The Ayreshire team, challenging for both Scottish Cup and League honours, scored in the opening minutes of the game before the United had settled, and maybe many thought they would go on to win by a large margin. As the game wore on this never looked like materialising and on several occasions Kilmarknock's defence was under pressure.

"It was not to be, however, and their odd goal lead was enough to see Kilmarknock through."

At a special dinner celebrating Eyemouth United's achievement in the 1960 Scottish Cup, club chairman Mr Peter Walker said that the occasion would long be remembered by the club, and he was not wrong.

Alf Warner, a keen follower of Eyemouth United, has been involved with the club for more than 40 years, and in the year 2000 the club recognised his contribution by naming their current ground, Warner Park, after him.

"I was involved with the club for many years, I started off as a committee member, then I was secretary. I've been chairman, vice chairman, I've had some good fun with them," Mr Warner said. "I had to retire from the club after I had a stroke but I still follow them, I have many contacts there."

Speaking about the historic cup-tie, Mr Warner said: "We were the first non league club to reach the quarter finals of the Scottish Cup. I knew Dougie and Johnny Martin who played, they were both Berwick lads and were part and parcel of Eyemouth United for many years. They never forgot the Kilmarnock game.

"After that game Forrester was signed to Accrington Stanley for about 1,000 I think, which was a lot of money then."

And although Eyemouth were knocked out of the Cup in the Quarter Finals, Mr Warner explained that Eyemouth's efforts didn't go unrecognised.

"That year we won the Giant Killers Cup," he explained. "We weren't allowed to accept it because it wasn't organised by the football association but they got round that by presenting the award to the town. We had a big do in the Home Arms Hotel on April 25, 1960, the cup was presented to the town provost and there was a celebration dinner."

The eleven Eyemouth men who turned out against Kilmarnock were: Lindsay, Paterson, Blackwood, J, Martin, Forrester, D. Martin, Steel, Reid, Duff, Allan, Adams.

To this day Eyemouth United are the only East of Scotland Club ever to reach the last eight in the Scottish Cup.