Group of Death 2003/04

Miracles do happen. Just not very often to the Ants. But in August 2003 we qualified from our League Cup section - a particularly difficult one - with maximum points.

Since the inception of the Sectional League Cup in 1968/69, the Ants had grown accustomed to being grouped with much bigger, wealthier clubs, often at the height of their power. If it wasn't Cambuslang Rangers and Rutherglen Glencairn, or Shotts Bon Accord and Bellshill Athletic, it was Pollok, Arthurlie and Benburb. We had never qualified - never come close - often finishing bottom of our section with a miserable haul of points and an unhealthy goal deficit.

For a few seasons, from 1998/99 to 2004/05, we were placed in a really daunting seven-club Section 9 with some of the giants of Junior football. In 2003 this section contained SIX clubs from higher divisions. Arthurlie, Johnstone Burgh, Neilston Juniors and Pollok all had Super League Premier Division status, while Benburb and Renfrew operated in Super League Division One. The Ants, by contrast, were newly promoted from Central District League Division Two to Division One.

On paper we should have had no chance...

Wednesday 6th August Neilston Juniors 2 St Anthony's 5 Diamond, Barclay, Diamond, Barclay, Mulherron
Saturday 9th August St Anthony's 3 Benburb 0 Mulherron, Barclay, Dickson
Monday 11th August Johnstone Burgh 0 St Anthony's 1 Mulherron
Saturday 16th August St Anthony's 3 Renfrew 1 Dickson, Mulherron, Diamond
Wednesday 20th August Arthurlie 0 St Anthony's 3 Barclay, Ford, Renton
Saturday 23rd August St Anthony's 2 Pollok 1 Mulherron, Barclay (pen)
Pl W D L F A Pts
St Anthony's 6 6 0 0 17 4 18
Pollok 6 3 2 1 12 6 11
Arthurlie 6 3 1 2 11 9 10
Neilston Juniors 6 3 1 2 11 13 10
Renfrew 6 1 2 3 7 13 5
Johnstone Burgh 6 1 0 5 4 10 3
Benburb 6 0 2 4 6 13 2

take the lead. Lennox then equalised for the Ants... 2-2 and everything to play for. The turning point came when Frearson was upended rounding the Kilsyth 'keeper and no penalty was awarded. Kilsyth scored two late goals from Hughes and Early to win 4-2.

Section 9 runners-up Pollok actually won the competition, although their road to victory was certainly not for the faint-hearted. They had three penalty shoot-outs in the knock-out rounds, defeating Shotts Bon Accord, Larkhall Thistle, Maryhill (their only proper win), and finally Kilsyth Rangers. In the Firhill final Pollok were actually losing 0-1 to Kilsyth until, deep into time added, they secured an equaliser, then won the penalty decider 5-3! The gods of football must have been on their side.

Group 3


(including quarter final)

Barclay 5
Mulherron 5
Diamond 3
Dickson 2
Ford 2
Lennox 1
Renton 1

Greg Frearson (right) congratulates Dennis Barclay on scoring yet another goal against some Big-Time Charlies.