The Sutherland Clearance

Brora Rangers Red Army get ready for another William Hill Scottish Cup away day.

There is a strong sense of apprehension amongst the Brora support this week, and it has nothing to do with the recent results at Rugby Park, or PSG’s failed effort to nab Youssouf Mulumbu. Some things are just far more important.

To be fair it is a concern firmly founded in our recent history.

Those who travelled to Palmerston for our 4th Round Scottish Cup tie against Queen of the South suffered. The trip to Links Park in Montrose for the second leg of the first ever Pyramid Playoff was absolutely agonising. And yet the famous travelling Red Army had to go through the same agony at Bayview again this season.

For it to happen at Kilmarnock, of all places, is a pain few could live with.

Again, to be fair, it is a problem purely of the supporters own making. Tokes can do all the homework he wants, he can inspire the players in any way he pleases, he can mastermind a game plan which narrows the gap between Premiership and Highland League all he likes. But it won’t alleviate the current anxiety that is gripping the Brora fans over the past few days.


As we say, it’s a problem of the travelling support’s own making. They just turn up in unexpected numbers, overwhelming numbers.

The trip to Dumfries in 2014 started the niggling doubt, Queens own match report confirms the attendance as 1434. The Doonhamers also confirmed we took a bigger away gate to that game than everyone in the Championship at that time apart from Rangers and Hibs. It took the town by surprise (a pleasant surprise, we are a very friendly bunch) but of greater importance, it took those in charge of ordering the pies by surprise.

When we travelled to Links Park for the 2nd leg of our Pyramid Playoff, the Angus club could be forgiven for not seeing the food issue as the most important concern on the day … but given that they actively campaigned for visitors to turn up, it was a near disaster for the Cattachs when they were offered sausage rolls at half time due to the dearth of pies.

Having accounted for almost a quarter of the 440 attendees at Stair Park, a mere 300 miles from home, that the short hop to Fife would attract more travellers shouldn’t have really come as a surprise to any of us. However, we didn’t account for Cup fever gripping the village and beyond, resulting in 250 red and white revellers descending on Methil, devouring all the pies, and watching the serving hatch close before appetites were fully satisfied. It’s hungry work watching your team carry off Cup shocks.

Mock outrage aside, it would appear that Kilmarnock can expect a horde of Highlanders to land on their doorstep this weekend. Our Brora Rangers Supporters Club ran one bus to Methil for the 4th Round tie and that resulted in well over 200 fans paying in through the ‘Away’ turnstile. This weekend we hear there are 5 buses of varying capacity making the trip down the A9 and M77. It appears to be a modern day Sutherland Clearance, albeit with less coercion than that of the mid 1800s.

Much as a Cup run such as we are currently enjoying can make a very important difference to our balance sheet, and so obviously, our ambitions, there is something about the Scottish Cup that belongs more to the fans than anything else in our domestic football scene.

No doubt we will have a post weekend feature on the travelling Reds next week, but today we’d like to turn our attention to those who don’t regularly follow our Club.

It is difficult to know how much anonymity to afford posters on Social Media these days, but we are going to single out Iain Sherry for his contribution to the Brora Rangers Supporters Facebook Page. His first post on the page …

“Hi folks, Killie fans looking forward to welcoming you to the theatre of pies next Saturday. Any questions re game please fire away”

And fire away the Brora fans did, some even asked sensible questions, to which Iain found the answers. Top job, Iain.

The bastion of Scottish football south of the Highland Football League, Pie & Bovril always has a lively forum … and the Killie v Brora Rangers had a fantastic opening post:

“For the first time since 1985 we’ve drawn non-league opposition in the Scottish Cup. For those of you wondering what happened that day, Inverness Thistle beat Killie 3-0 in a game that Killie fans of a certain vintage refer to as the Highland massacre.

Anyway, Brora are coming to RP for the first time ever and I think it’ll be a memorable day for both clubs. On paper we’re massive favourites and in years gone by I’d have said that it’s a potential banana skin but with our form right now I’m pretty confident that we’ll get the job done. I think we need to make the effort to make the Brora fans feel very welcome indeed given that it’s a 500 mile round trip when they’ve already had to travel something in the region of 1400 miles already in the cup.”

It is the spirit in which we like to travel, it seems likely it is very much the spirit in which we are going to be met. It really is The Beautiful Game.

Back in the North’s premier footy forum, Fitba North, where rivalries are a bit more apparent, the level of support for our first foray into the 5th Round and Premiership opposition is also obvious.

Our Twitter account is busier than ever with the ego boosting Likes and Retweets … but this is one definitely worth a share.

Brora Rangers Red Army get ready for another William Hill Scottish Cup away day.

There is a feelgood factor around this weekend that money can’t buy. There will be original moments a plenty, and unforgettable memories to pass on to the future generations of Brora Rangers fans. It is a trip to savour. But if you don’t want to go down in Dudgeon Park history as the bad guys, Iain and ‘Andy_K_97’, don’t let your club run out of pies.

Published on Thursday February 08, 2018

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