Scottish Cup: Beith Juniors enjoy the visit of Strathspey Thistle

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All in a day's work for Beith kitman Jimmy McGuill

"We're only six or seven matches away from Europe."

That statement from life-long Beith Juniors fan James Conway summed up the magic of the Scottish Cup in a nutshell.

Through to the second round after thrashing Highland League Strathspey Thistle 6-0 at Bellsdale Park on Saturday, the North Ayrshire side will play Lowland League outfit BSC Glasgow on 22 October as they try to keep alive surely ridiculous - but not impossible - hopes of lifting the trophy.

Darren Christie, David McGowan, Kenny McLean (two), Ross McPherson and Nicky Docherty got the goals against the Grantown-on-Spey men who made a 350-mile round trip to play the tie, but the good work is done just as much off the pitch as it is on it at a club like Beith Juniors.

Loyal Beith fans (l to r) James Conway, Lewis Conway and Robert McCarter
Loyal Beith fans (l to r) James Conway, Lewis Conway and Robert McCarter

Robert McCarter, for instance, has been a loyal servant to 'The Mighty' for over 34 years as a past president, treasurer and secretary.

He received a whisper near full-time that "the attendance was 373 and the pies had all been sold". His nod of approval was significant and out came the notepad to record such detail. These bits of information matter at Bellsdale.

McCarter watched the match with the aforementioned James Conway and his young son, Lewis, who was eager to express that "you're always guaranteed a goal" watching Beith.

The current president is the welcoming and enthusiastic John Boal and you get a real sense from him that Beith winning the Scottish Junior Cup for the first time last season was a real 'tick it off your bucket list' moment.

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Strathspey Thistle's Inaki Fernandino-Soto journey from Valencia to Ayrshire

Just as personable working in the realm of the dressing room was 70-something kit-man Jimmy McGuill, who is Beith Juniors through and through. He beavers away for Beith for most of the day on Saturdays and if he has a spare minute maybe watches the match. Washing kit, hanging kit, filling water bottles and pumping up match balls...that's only a small part of McGuill's job.

In another hub of activity, three friendly females are preparing all the necessary refreshments for fans in the food kiosk, with buttered and jammed pancakes from the local baker the highlight of the fare.

But the Strathspey Jags contributed to the occasion as well, even though they were comfortably ousted from the Scottish Cup on the park.

Beith president John Boal (left) lets Kenny Crawford get his hands on the Scottish Junior Cup
Beith president John Boal (left) lets Kenny Crawford get his hands on the Scottish Junior Cup

Their left-back is a Spanish architect by the name of Inaki Fernandino-Soto, who no doubt as a young lad growing up in Valencia dreamt of playing in the Scottish wind and rain in Beith.

"You never know what life will bring," was his cheery assessment of the situation.

Which brings us to where we started. Beith are seven matches from Europe. Maybe, just maybe.

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