To kick-start the new "other leagues" section of these boards, I'd like to honour the Scottish football/soccer club Gretna FC, who recently won their division championship but more surprisingly forced overtime in a very exciting final for the Scottish Cup. For those unfamiliar with European football, national cup competitions include almost every registered team, and each stage is completed with one-game knock-outs. Depending on the day, an amateur or semi-pro team can face a true heavyweight, and they sometimes win. If we had a parallel competition for hockey, it would have to include all NHL, AHL, major junior, and university teams across the country. Imagine the Leafs playing the Bulldogs, or the Petes playing the Senators, in a one-game takes all contest, and you’ll get the idea.
Gretna, a town with a population of roughly 2700, had a team which languished outside the Scottish league and attracted maybe 80 to 100 fans per game six years ago. Today it thrives under the guidance of an inspirational coach and a helpful investor who shares his vision. This year, quite improbably, it made the Scottish Cup final to face Hearts FC from Edinburgh, the Scottish capital. The team’s travelling support numbered an amazing 12,500 -- roughly five times the size of the town itself. A tense, close match ended after overtime tied one apiece, and was only decided on penalty kicks. Although Gretna lost, the Hearts squad made a point of applauding the Gretna supporters, while the Hearts fans applauded the Gretna squad. The Gretna owners advertised later that week in the Edinburgh papers thanking the fans there for their welcome and sportsmanship. All in all, this is a specular sport story which unfolded slowly over the last four months and captivated the country over the last two weeks.
I can’t do this story justice, but here’s a link to more info:
Cheers to Gretna!