Team spirit and tragedy: Airdrie legend Jimmy Boyle reflects on stunning Hearts in the Scottish Cup 25 years on

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AIRDRIE defeated Hearts at Hampden.

But Jimmy Boyle is adamant the victory was made in Magaluf.

April 8th represents 25 years to the day since the Division One Diamonds saw off the Jambos in the Scottish Cup semi-final, with Steve Cooper notching the only goal of the game.

And club legend Boyle has credited their triumph to the camaraderie and unshakable self-belief created by former boss Alex MacDonald.

The late Cooper, centre, celebrates heading home the only goal of the game

He recalled: “Although we were in the old First Division we had some good players and we had a fantastic camaraderie about us.

“Alex MacDonald was great at making sure we worked as a team and bonded together.

“Most of the lads played golf so we would go on holidays together and he would always made sure we got a wee night out.

“We went to Magaluf four or five times between 1992 and 1995, and that’s something that stood us in good stead. We all liked and respected each other.

“Yes, we had some good players but when you look at some of the players Hearts had, it was our work ethic and togetherness that got us through.”

Remarkably it was the second time in just three years that Airdrie had dumped the capital club out of the Scottish Cup at the semi-final stage, while they enjoyed a seven-match unbeaten run against the Jambos between 1992 and 1995.

Boyle continued: “Alex [MacDonald] always sent us out there with confidence. It was a one-off game and he made it clear that, if we went about our business in the right manner, we could win.

“He HATED not taking the game to the opposition, no matter who they were.

“Even when we played head tennis in training, he’d be absolutely furious when he lost. Alex was the ultimate winner and was fearless.”

Among the most popular figures in a tight-knit dressing room was tireless frontman and match-winning hero Cooper.

The ex-Birmingham, Barnsley, and Plymouth striker tragically died in his sleep in 2004 after unknowingly suffering a fractured skull in a fall. He was just 39 years of age.

Boyle is adamant Airdrie hall of famer Cooper is always in his thoughts – but even more so on the anniversary of arguably his finest moment for the club.

He continued: “Steve was fantastic, he was a players’ player. He worked so hard in attack, held the ball up and scored important goals for the club.

Andy Smith, 9, battles for a high ball in the final, which Airdrie lost to Celtic

“But he would put a shift in coming back and never shirked his responsibilities.

“More than that, he was a great guy and an absolute pleasure to go out and share a drink with after a game. It’s such a shame he’s no longer with us and we always have him in our thoughts, particularly on days like this when you are looking back and remembering these games.”

Cooper’s timeless heroics teed up a showpiece clash against Celtic, with Pierre van Hooijdonk netting the only goal of the game.

That came hot on the heels of another heartbreaking 2-1 Scottish Cup final defeat to Rangers in 1992.

REGRETS

Boyle played the full match on both occasions and, despite always being the bridesmaid, he harbours no ill-feeling.

He continued: “You need a little good fortune to even get to two finals, so I’m not going to moan about missed opportunities. We were maybe a bit unlucky to get Rangers and then Celtic in the finals but I’ve got no regrets.

“They were special occasions and we gave it everything. We only lost 1-0 and 2-1 in the matches, we held our own.

“You don’t realise until afterwards and you look back and go ‘Jesus Christ, we did really well there – what an effort’.”

 
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