BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Linlithgow Rose secretary Jim Harkins admits their Scottish Cup adventure has been a bittersweet experience after their fourth-round clash against Forfar hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
The SFA are expected to look into the shameful scenes prior to kick-off at Station Park which saw individuals purporting to be Linlithgow fans light smoke bombs and throw flares onto the pitch, damaging Forfar’s 3G surface and delaying the start off the match.
When the encounter finally did get underway, it lasted just 20 minutes before floodlight failure called a halt to proceedings.
Another yob then ran onto the field with a flare and had to be tackled by security.
Reflecting on a miserable night for a proud community club, Harkins said the incidents were “soul destroying” and insisted the perpetrators were not true football fans.
The Rose chief told Capital City Press: “This type of thing has never happened before and you will probably find that these people have never set foot in Prestonfield before.
“The people that have been mentioned – we know the buses they came home in and I have been given names – are completely unknown to me and they are very young.
“They have gone there to cause trouble and drag the name of Linlithgow Rose through the mud – and they have succeeded. It is soul-destroying to see this sort of thing associated with our club.
“It was an embarrassment to the club and we will get to the bottom of it and take action. They will not be allowed anywhere near Prestonfield.
“We will have to see whether the SFA take action. I just don’t know how we can stop that if people go out of their way to cause trouble. You had 42 SPFL clubs at Hampden on Tuesday struggling to come up with a solution. What chance have Linlithgow Rose got?”
Last night’s drama was just the latest twist in a roller-coaster cup campaign.
Their away tie against Wick Academy in the third round was postponed four times – including once just 40 minutes before kick-off – and ultimately went to a replay at Prestonfield.
Combined with Tuesday evening’s call-off at Station Park, the Rosey Posey have now travelled 770 miles in this season’s competition for nothing.
After a run which has included Gala Fairydean, Clachnacuddin and Wick the re-arranged tie with Forfar will see the club rack up a total of 1780 miles.
Harkins continued: “Floodlight failure can happen to any team, it has happened to us in the past. It is just Sod’s Law that it happened during this cup run.
“We have been unlucky with the distances we’ve had to travel, with the weather and now with the electricity! We are very proud to be this far into the Scottish Cup, but it has been challenging.
“Not every employer will let our players willy-nilly away for all of these midweek fixtures. We were lucky enough to have a full squad for Tuesday – we don’t know whether that will be the case for the re-arranged game.”
Nevertheless, Harkins was keen to look on the bright side, noting that Linlithgow remain in the hat, and still have the opportunity to become the first Junior side in history to reach the fifth round.
He added: “We are happy to be in the competition and we want to go as far as possible. The carrot of making history for a Junior club is there and if we do that it’s just another short journey – up to Dingwall for Ross County!”