IT was certainly a very exciting Scottish Cup quarter-final round last weekend. It’s amazing to think that none of the four clubs who had home advantage won, although Hibs did eventually make it through on penalties. The only team that won over the 90 minutes was Dundee United with an excellent but surprising victory over Aberdeen.

In previous years, we would have had three replays to look forward to, but because there are no fans allowed into matches these days, teams can’t benefit from having a return match at home. It was the right decision to have games completed with extra time and penalties if required.

There was a very interesting statistic put forward on the radio by Chick Young on Monday night. He told us that since the League Cup was established in 1946 this is the first time that neither Celtic or Rangers have made the semi-final of either cup competition. An amazing stat and it does signify how dominant both these clubs are in the Scottish game.

To consider that this situation has arisen in a season when Rangers are unbeaten in the league and that it’s a Celtic team on the back of four consecutive trebles, certainly exemplifies how unexpected this outcome was. 

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I looked back at some previous seasons and found there was once another unexpected absence of Rangers and Celtic in a Scottish Cup semi-final. It was 1968 and this was possibly more surprising because Celtic were European champions at the time and Rangers had been European Cup Winners Cup finalists. Dunfermline won the cup that season when they beat Hearts in the final. Maybe that shows that when the Old Firm are on a high, they are at their most vulnerable in domestic cups.

Anyway, the quarter-finals were full of incidents and each game produced a few surprises too. St Johnstone are having a great season and to think that they pulled off a victory at Ibrox spells out how competitive and industrious they are. They are certainly very eager to win both cups this season and you certainly can’t rule them out.

I firmly believe that if they do win the Scottish Cup then Callum Davidson should be awarded Manager of the Season. Steven Gerrard would obviously be his main challenger for the honour but for a manager, at a provincial club with a low budget, to win two trophies in his first season would be an exceptional achievement.

Still, there’s a bit to go before that has to be addressed and it will be interesting to see how it transpires and even when the winner will be announced. I can still remember in my first season at Rangers, the award was decided upon before the season finished.

Aberdeen manager Billy McNeill was awarded the prize that season but within three weeks we had pipped Aberdeen for the league title and defeated them in the Scottish Cup final. So, our manager Jock Wallace won the treble but didn’t get chosen as Manager of the Year. It just shows how these matters can be decided a bit too early.

I had a laugh about it with Billy when I played for him at Manchester City and he said it was obviously because the press all thought, as he did, that the Dons were going to win the double that season. Billy certainly did a great job with Aberdeen and moved back to Celtic as manager at the end of the season but I still wonder how can someone who manages his team to a treble not be Manager of the Year?

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AND ANOTHER THING . . .

Brechin City chairman Ken Ferguson had caused a real stir with the Highland and Lowland League bodies with his insistence that Brechin should not be involved in any Pyramid play-offs this season.

This was because both Kelty Hearts and Brora Rangers were declared as league winners even although their campaigns were incomplete. I can fully understand his motivation for making this stance – it’s self interest. Obviously, he’s afraid that his team would really struggle against either of these teams in a playoff and this would result in Brechin becoming a non-league team, albeit not for the first time in their history.

With the type of money and backing that now exists for clubs in the Highland and Lowland leagues these days, it would certainly be a struggle for them to get back into League 2. I do feel however, that the pyramid system was proposed, approved and therefore had to be implemented regardless of how team’s places were achieved.

If Brechin deserve to be a league club they can surely prove this by winning the play-off.