History of Forfar Athletic: Scottish Football League Challenge Cup

With the return of the Ramsdens Cup, I thought it’d be a good idea to look back at the Loons records in the competition.

The competition was created in 1990 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Scottish Football League and was known as the B&Q Centenary Cup and in that season Forfar crashed to a 3-0 defeat at Alloa Athletic in the first round.  The team that day being: Allan, Morris, Hamill, Brazil, Winter, Lorimer, Paton, Brewster, Whyte, Leslie, Petrie.

The Loons failed to reach the second round until 1995/96 when, after defeats to Stranraer, Morton,  Livingston and Alloa again, Queen of the South were beaten by a goal from Bobby Mann. They were rewarded with an away tie to Dunfermline Athletic, although went down 2-1 in a valiant effort against the side who were to become First Division champions that season.

The next season was another first round exit, this time a heavy 4-0 loss to Morton at Station Park. Bobby Mann was yet again a scorer in a Forfar win, with him and Stuart Glennie netting against East Stirlingshire resulting in a meeting with Shire’s neighbours Falkirk where, despite a goal from Alan Morgan, they were soundly beaten 3-1 at Brockville.

With no sponsor for the past two editions, the Scottish Football League decided to cancel the competition in the 1998-99 season, but brought it back when with Bell’s as new sponsors in 1999-2000. Forfar reached the second round again, albeit because they were given a bye in the first round, and were involved in a thrilling game at Clydebank’s temporary home Cappielow as two goals from loanee Steven Milne and one from Sean Christie weren’t enough to beat the Bankies’ four.

Two first round defeats in a row followed, Peterhead triumphing on penalties and Inverness Caledonian Thistle winning with the odd goal in five after extra time.

In 2002/03 a double from Paul Tosh put Arbroath to the sword in the first round but another goal from Tosh and one from Martin Bavidge wasn’t enough to beat Queen’s Park, the Loons crashing out on penalties.

Next season Forfar went one better than the second round, reaching the Quarter Finals for the first time. Goals from Tosh, Paul Shields, Martin Maher and Hugh Davidson sent Elgin back up north with no goals to show for themselves. Shields and Maher were on the score sheet again in the second round, Shields bagging a hat-trick in a 4-2 win over Albion Rovers to set up a quarter final meeting with Rovers’ rivals Airdrie United, who left Station Park with a 2-0 victory over the Loons.

Expecting another first round exit after reaching the quarters last year? Think again, Forfar did even better in 2004/05. Greenock Morton were expected to live up to the tag of favourites for this game and were soundly defeated 3-1 in the first round. After victory in the second round via penalties against Queen’s Park, First Division Clyde were the opponents in the quarter final and were shocked by the Loons, David McClune and Paul Tosh both notching despite a Clyde consolation.

The reward for that was a semi final away to Ross County, where a large Loons support travelled up to Dingwall to hopefully cheer the side onto their first national final. This was not to be, as although Paul Shields grabbed a double, full time against part time showed its difference as Ross County put three past their tiring opponents to go through 5-2. The team that night was: Ferrie, Rattray, Lowing, Forrest, King, McClune, Lunan, Booth, Tosh, Shields, Stein.

2005/06 saw Forfar crash out at the first round stage again, this time losing by one goal to St Mirren, who they had knocked out in the League Cup the season before.

This was the last time Forfar have exited the competition at the first round, every year they have reached the second round or went further before being knocked out.

The Loons never left Station Park for a Challenge Cup game in 2006/07, as they drew Dundee at home in the first round, shocking everyone when goals from Darren Gribben and Fraser Coyle put the home side into the second round against Arbroath who, in a heated game, put three past Forfar with Paul Lunan grabbing a consolation.

 

Today’s visitors were drawn against us in 2007/08 and it was an exciting 120 minutes, the Loons grabbing the odd goal in five as Michele Lombardi, Stephen Tulloch and Paul Lunan netted.  No such luck in the next round though, Ayr United putting Forfar to the sword with two goals and no reply.

Goals from Kevin McLeish and Sean Kilgannon made sure Arbroath were beaten in the first round of the 2008/09 competition but they couldn’t do the same against Livingston as Forfar were defeated by a single goal.

East Fife were yet again first round opponents a year later, and were beaten again, this time 2-0 as both Kevin and Martyn Fotheringham scored. The next round pitted us at home to Partick Thistle, who handed Forfar their worst defeat in this competition, with 6 goals hitting the back of the Forfar net that night, Chris Templeman netting a consolation.

After a bye in the first round, an extra time free kick from Barry Sellars saw Queen’s Park defeated by the odd goal in five in 2010/11, with Chris Templeman and Bryan Deasley also scoring.  Ross County were the visitors for the quarter final and triumphed by two goals to nil, County going on to win the trophy that season.

2011/12 saw the inclusion of two Highland League sides each season, Buckie Thistle being one of the first two, and they were drawn against Forfar at Station Park. Thistle pushed the Loons all the way, after 120 minutes it was 1-1 with Graham Gibson scoring for the home side, Forfar lucky to win 5-4 on penalties. The second round pitted Forfar at home again, this time against Morton. Unlike last time in 2004, Morton won, hammering the Loons by five goals to nil.

Last season Forfar pulled off one of the shocks of the first round, defeating Dunfermline Athletic 3-2 with goals from Omar Kader, Danny Denholm and Gavin Swankie. Arbroath were the hosts for the second round game, with the same scoreline as the first round, Arbroath winning 3-2 in a feisty game which saw Iain Campbell sent off. The scorers that day were two players that has switched from the Red Lichties to Forfar that summer, Keith Gibson and Gavin Swankie.

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