Peterhead's entire stock of football boots has been stolen on the eve of their historic Qualifying Cup clash with Buchan rivals Fraserburgh.

The break-in at the club's new #1.5m Balmoor Stadium has wrecked Peterhead's preparations for the big match. Their goal- keeper's kit was also taken in a bizarre theft that threatens to add ill-feeling to the first all-Buchan final in the league's 126-year history.

Peterhead officials privately suspect Fraserburgh fans are responsible for the morale-shattering manoeuvre. Blue Toon manager Dave Watson admitted: ''This is an absolute nightmare and devastating for our players.

''People will say, ach, its only a pair of football boots, but to lose your boots three days before a cup final is a complete disaster - any player would tell you that. It is hard to break-in new boots, and some players are also very superstitious about their gear. It can only prey on their minds.

''At the start of the season, the club kits out the players with new boots and, to be honest, the old ones are usually just chucked out.''

While the Peterhead players should have been finalising tactical preparations on Thursday night, the club was frantically measuring them up for new boots. Watson said: ''We were running about like mad when we should have been focussing on the game.

''But I don't want to sound like I'm making excuses. We'll be ready.''

Only half jokingly, Watson suggested: ''We'll certainly be on the look-out for Fraserburgh fans in football boots at the final. I would think there was certainly a wee bit of devilment in this theft.''

Broch chairman Jimmy Adams said: ''I have sympathy for Peterhead's predicament, but it doesn't say much for security at their new ground. Our ground was broken into twice in 1995-96, but that was for cash. It was us who arranged this break-in of course - or that is what some people would have you believe!''

Peterhead are keeping their fingers crossed that flu victim Derek Smith and Scott Paterson (hamstring) will be ready for the big derby clash at Christie Park, Huntly. Form side Fraserburgh have only long-term injury victims Jimmy Young and John Thomson out of the picture.

Amazingly, the Buchan clubs have never met in the Qualifying Cup final, despite numerous other cup final clashes. Last season, Fraserburgh twice one by a single goal in Aberdeenshire finals.