The Scottish League season returns once again with the first round of fixtures commencing this weekend. Indeed, competitive football is already underway with the new Scottish League Cup format; allowing fans to watch their clubs partake in competitive action in July, hoping their team can reach the final at Hampden. Though this is not the only format the football governing bodies have constructed in the past, in order to bring football back to the supporters at an earlier date. One example of this is the Drybrough Cup competition.
The Drybrough Cup was first competed in the season 1970-71. It was the first ever tournament in Scotland to bear a sponsors’ name, open to the eight top scoring teams in the Scottish League- four from the first division and four from the second division. At a time when Football Sponsorship was a heavily debated subject, ‘Drybrough & Co Ltd’ sponsored the tournament making it the first ever sponsored football tournament exclusively for Scottish clubs. The sponsored competition would consist of three rounds. A first round, semi-final and final.
The tournament was held a couple of weeks before the start of the league season. The Drybrough Cup was also an opportunity for the Scottish FA to experiment with new rules and ideas for football. For example, in the 1972, 1973 and 1974 Drybrough Cup competitions, an experimental version of the offside rule was operated. The new rule saw the penalty area line extended to join up with the touchlines, creating a solid line across the pitch 18 yards from each goal. The offside law then only applied when a player was beyond the new penalty area line; at times leading to confusion and goals which would not normally stand.
In its first ever year, the Drybrough Cup final was held at Pittodrie, where Aberdeen defeated Celtic at their own fortress. After then each final was held at Hampden. The tournament however did not return before the start of the 1975 season as the ‘Scottish Football Premier League Division’ was created- the clubs voted in favour of a three division setup, with 10 clubs in the top tier. This meant two extra League matches for the new Premier Division clubs leading to the postponement of the Drybrough Cup.
Although, in 1979, the Drybrough Cup returned to the football calendar where Rangers would go on to win the trophy beating Celtic at Hampden. Indeed, it was in this Drybrough Cup final where Davie Cooper scored his memorable goal against Celtic-which is considered to be one of the greatest goals ever scored in an Old Firm derby.
The final in 1980 saw St Mirren line up against Aberdeen. The Dons proved too strong and ran out 2-1 winners. This would prove to be the final year the competition was played as the governing body and teams pursued different priorities. Though the trophy may not have been seen as a major honour, it did not fail to produce good football for the observing fan as well as have the pull to attract thousands of supporters.
Drybrough Cup Winners.
Aberdeen 2 Robb (20), Harper (pen 63)
Celtic 1 Hughes (58)
Pittodrie Park, att 25,000
Hibernian 5 Gordon 2 (4, 21), O’Rourke (56, 95), Duncan (118)
Celtic 3 McNeill 65, Johnstone 77, 81 aet, 90 mins 3-3
Hampden Park, att 49,462
Hibernian 1 Gordon (119)
aet, 90 mins 0-0
Hampden Park, att 49,204
Celtic 2 Murray (30), Wilson (93).
Rangers 2 Scott (38), McCluskey (og 118). aet, 90 mins 1-1. Celtic won 4-2 on penalties
Hampden Park att 57,558
Rangers 3 J MacDonald (13), Jardine (25), Cooper (78)
Celtic 1 Lennox (84)
Hampden Park, att 40,609
Aberdeen 2 Jarvie (74), Cowan (83)
St Mirren 1 Somner (pen 68)
Hampden Park, att 6,994.