Football / Non-League Notebook: Gretna are not green

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The Independent Online
THREE Scottish non-League sides will be looking to make a name for themselves in cup-tie action tomorrow: two in the third round of the Tennents Scottish Cup and one south of the border, in the first round of the Vauxhall FA Trophy, writes Rupert Metcalf.

Gretna have become accomplished combatants in English cup competitions, they took Rochdale to a replay in the first round of the FA Cup last season and won at Macclesfield in the Trophy in 1991, and at Runcorn two years before that. However, they will still be the underdogs tomorrow at Gateshead, who are having a good season in the GM Vauxhall Conference.

'Gateshead are a footballing side, which will suit us,' Mike McCartney, the former Southampton, Plymouth and Carlisle full- back who is Gretna's manager, said. His side are doing well in their first season in the HFS Loans League, having won the Northern League last season. 'The overall standard is higher, the top sides are at about the same level but there are no easy games, like in the Northern League,' he added.

Extra travelling (to places like Alfreton, Shepshed and Worksop) has made McCartney's job harder, with his players sometimes having trouble securing time off work. 'Also, visiting clubs seem to think that Gretna is the end of the earth,' he said, 'but it's not that bad, we're just off the motorway.'

Up the A1 from Tyneside, Huntly, of the Press and Journal Highland League, will be hunting for glory at Tynecastle Park against Heart of Midlothian in the Scottish Cup. The team from Strathbogie have dismissed the pride of Dumfries and Galloway from the tournament: Stranraer in the first round and, on Monday, Queen of the South, when the decisive goal came from Doug Rougvie, a Cup winner a decade ago with Aberdeen.

Huntly's player-manager is Steve Paterson, once the understudy centre-forward to Joe Jordan, the Hearts manager, at Manchester United. 'We only played together a couple of times,' Paterson said, 'but I learned a lot from Joe about how to conduct myself on and off the football field.'

In Aberdeen, Huntly's Highland League rivals, Cove Rangers, face Second Division East Stirlingshire. A home win will not be a big surprise, as Cove beat Montrose in the last round. Their key player should be the former Dundee forward, Ray Stephen, who was picked for a Scotland squad by Andy Roxburgh when with the French club, Nancy.

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