For Queen of the South, reaching the League Cup Final has always proved to be at least one bridge too far. Queens have made it to the semi finals twice; the first time under Jimmy McKinnell junior on Saturday 7th October 1950 when Charlie Johnstone put Queens ahead with a rocket against the season’s emphatic eventual League Champions, Hibernian (in the era of two points for a win,Hibs finished 10 points clear). Played in front of a 32 000 crowd at Tynecastle Park in Hibs’ home city of Edinburgh, an Eddie Turnbull hat trick gave Hibs a 3-1 win where a battling Queens side were beaten but unbowed. Turnbull missed the final through injury. Playing against Motherwell his team mates blew it and lost 3-0.
10 years later on Wednesday 19th October 1960 McKinnell brought Queens to another League Cup semi this time against then holders Rangers. Of course no one would have known it then but the Rangers side of the time contained three future QoS managers – Bobby Shearer (QoS Player Manager), Harold Davis and Davie Wilson. The semi ended as a disaster for Queens on the end of a 7-0 gubbing. The three future managers at Palmerston beat Kilmarnock 2-0 in the final that season and indeed the three of them played in both games in the replayed win against Hearts the season after. All three also played in both legs of the double defeat to Fiorentina in the 1961 European Cup Winners Cup final.
Unsurprisingly successful League Cup campaigns in Scotland are dominated by the ‘Old Firm’. This though isn’t an exclusive outcome. The League Cup achievements of George Hamilton and his manager at Aberdeen Dave Halliday, Bobby Black then of East Fife and Nobby Clark then of Partick Thistle are already documented in Queens Legends. So too is that of Ted McMinn although unlike the others his club was one of the ‘Old Firm’. To comment on a few other League Cup finals from over the years:-
On 12th March 1949 Raith Rovers featured a Dumfries born future Scottish international in the side, Willie McNaught. Rangers won 2-0. In 1955/56 Willie Telfer lost 2-1 in the final playing for St Mirren v reigning League champs, Aberdeen. Telfer played once for Scotland (a 3-3 draw v Wales) and joined Queens for season 1960/61.
Bobby Ancell has certain similarities to McNaught – born and raised in Dumfries, played for Scotland at left back and never represented QoS. In 1967 he managed Dundee to the League Cup final where they had the prospect of facing the reigning European Cup holders, Celtic. Ancell’s side hit three goals including one by future Dundee United manager Jim Mclean. Jock Stein’s goals-packed side though scored five to retain the trophy.
In 1969/70 future QoS manager John Connolly lost 1-0 to another future QoS manager, Harry Hood of Celtic (unlike Connolly, Hood also played for Queens). Hood and Celtic played in the next six consecutive finals – a string that included four consecutive defeats and only one further victory. One of those defeats was to a Partick Thistle side featuring Alex Forsyth who became one of the few ex Manchester United players to also play for Queens. Pat McCluskey played in defence for Queens in the early 80s. He also played in four League Cup finals beside Harry Hood with Hibs and Dundee among the three teams to have him presented with runners up medals.
Billy Williamson’s form playing for Kirkconnel led to him signing for Aberdeen in 1969. He didn’t play in the 1970 Scottish Cup Final win against Celtic. He did though achieve points of note against Celtic the first of which was in 1975 being only the second Aberdeen player to score a hat trick against Celtic (the first was ex QoS George Hamilton who actually scored four in one game against the Parkhead club). Williamson then played in the League Cup Final against Celtic in 1976/77 where Drew Jarvie and Davie Robb goals outscored the effort by Kenny Dalglish to give Williamson a winners medal. Current Queens goalkeeping coach Peter Latchford was in goals for Celtic. This was the middle of three consecutive League Cup finals that Latchford played in and lost.
Four seasons and two transfers later Williamson played in a second League Cup Final this time against the club he joined from Aberdeen, Dundee United. Managed by Jim McLean from the Dundee League Cup Final defeat by Celtic mentioned above, the Dundee United side of the time were a formidable outfit. Reigning holders after a 3-0 replay win against Alex Ferguson’s Aberdeen the year before, a goal by Davie Dodds and two by Paul Sturrock gave Williamson a loser’s medal this time around. Like McNaught and Ancell, Williamson was from Dumfries but never played for Queens.
Ferguson’s Aberdeen, reigning Scottish champions at the time, lifted the League Cup in 1985/86. Eric Black scored two and Billy Stark one with none scored in reply. In the Hibs line up was a certain Gordon Chisholm. Making a Hibs subs appearance was Colin Harris from Sanquhar and later of QoS.
Bobby Connor is in a list of some distinction of players to have played for Aberdeen and Queen of the South. Connor picked up a winner’s medal in 1989/90 for Aberdeen in the 2-1 win v Rangers thanks to a Paul Mason double. Connor played when the same sides met in the final in the two seasons prior – Rangers won entertaining contests, the first on penalties after a 3-3 draw and then 3-2 in normal time the year after.
1991 was the year Hibs won 2-0 v Dunfermline in the final. Keeper of many clubs, John Burridge was between the sticks for Hibs. Excluding non league sides, when he later joined Queens they were the 20th (twentieth) club at that pointwho he played for. To match the medal from the ‘91 final Burridge was a 1977 League Cup winner in England when Aston Villa beat Everton in a second replay. Opposing him for Everton was Ken McNaught, son of Willie and who later transferred between the two sides and won the League and the European Cup with Villa. Also lining up for Everton was centre forward Bob Latchford, brother of Peter. Opposing Burridge in ‘91 another future Queens manager made an appearance - Ian McCall came on as a sub.
Andy Goram won both of his League Cup final appearances with Rangers – a 2-1 extra time win v Aberdeen in 92 and a 4-3 win against Hearts in 96. Goram played in the QoS 2002/03 Challenge Cup final 2-0 win vBrechin at a colder than cold Broadwood. This made him the first player to collect a set of all four senior winners’ medals in Scotland.
Returning to the modern day coaching staff Billy Dodds picked up his first League Cup win in 1995 when Aberdeen beat Dundee 2-0. Dodds scored as did Duncan Shearer. Dodds’ second medal was for a subs appearance in the 4-0 win against Ayr United in March 2002. Current Queens player Stewart Kean made a subs appearance for Ayr.
Ex QoS Jamie McAllister and future QoS players Marvin Andrews and Stuart Lovell all played for Livingston when they won the 2004 trophy with a 2-0 win over Hibs. Lovell was captain and McAllister scored the second goal. Andrews had his moment in the spotlight with a goal line clearance of a Garry O’Connor effort. Pre Queens Stephen Dobbie also went close to scoring for Hibs after coming off the bench. McAllister played for Aberdeen in a 2-0 League Cup final defeat to Celtic in 2000. Andrews could have been the first player to collect League Cup winners’ medals in successive seasons with different clubs when Rangers beat Motherwell in 2005. However Andrews failed a late fitness test.