BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
NEXT month’s Scottish Cup final will be the first ever to be contested by two sides from outside the nation’s top-flight – and guarantees that a 78-year record will be broken.
East Fife remain the last club from outwith the top-tier to win the Scottish Cup following their 4-2 triumph over Kilmarnock in a replay in 1938.
Queen’s Park also lifted the trophy with a 2-1 win over Celtic in 1893 when they were a non-league outfit.
A ‘lower-league’ team has competed in the final on a dozen other occasions, most recently last season when Falkirk from the Championship were defeated by Inverness Caley Thistle.
Ross County in 2010, Queen of the South in 2008, Gretna in 2006, Falkirk again in 1997 and Airdrie in 1995 have all come up against Premiership opposition in recent times while competing in a lower division but have been unable to upset the odds.
However, with Championship pair Hibernian and Rangers winning through at the weekend, there will definitely be a non-top-flight name on the silverware for the first time since before World War II.
Meanwhile, Hibs have become the first non-Old Firm side to qualify for both of Scotland’s major cup finals in the same season for 16 years – and the first-ever to achieve the feat while playing below the top-flight.
Celtic were the last team to reach the finals of both competitions, in season 2010-11, when they defeated Motherwell to lift the Scottish Cup but lost out to city rivals Rangers in the League Cup.
The Hoops have managed the achievement on one other occasion in recent times, in campaign 2000-01, whilst Rangers have done it four times since the turn of the millennium.
However, Hibs have become the first outwith the Old Firm since Aberdeen in season 1999-2000 to reach both major finals.
The Easter Road outfit will be hoping they fare better than the Pittodrie outfit, though, with the Dons losing the League Cup final – as Hibs did to Ross County last month – with a 2-0 defeat to Celtic and then the Scottish Cup final with a 4-0 loss to Rangers.
Hibs’ appearance at the Scottish Cup final on May 21 will be the 24th time in the club’s history that they have reached the Scottish or League Cup final and their 14th attempt at landing the holy grail of the Scottish Cup they have infamously not won since 1902.
On only five of those previous 23 occasions have they lifted the silverware.