Buckie Thistle boss Graeme Stewart has welcomed the start of the 2020-21 Evening Express Aberdeenshire Cup.
The famous competition, which has been running since 1887, will kick-off on Saturday behind closed doors with the Jags facing Banks o’ Dee at Spain Park.
The remaining first round ties between Deveronvale and Dyce and Inverurie Locos and Turriff will be played on Tuesday.
It’s a tournament close to Stewart’s heart, he won it twice during his playing career with Buckie, while in 2016 the Shire Cup provided him with his first piece of silverware as a manager.
His side eventually beat Cove Rangers 5-4 on penalties following a 2-2 draw in which they finished with nine men – it’s a game that still sticks out in Stewart’s mind.
He said: “There’s nothing better than competitive football the players have that extra spring in their step and enthusiasm as everyone at the club has.
“It was the first trophy I won as a manager and that’s probably the best final I’ve been involved in.
“It was unbelievable, we missed a penalty early on, were 2-0 down, came back to 2-2, went down to nine men in extra time and Lewis MacKinnon made a clearance on the line that I still don’t know how he managed it.
“In the shoot-out we missed a penalty from John McLeod, who was the top scorer in the league at the time, and managed to win.
“The game still sticks out so clearly in my mind. It was just an unbelievable day, I’ve never experienced anything like it.
“It was just pure joy after the game and as a manager it was a feeling that was unmatched, but hopefully we can experience something like that again.”
Editor of the Evening Express, Craig Walker, added: “We are delighted that in these challenging times the 2020-21 Evening Express Aberdeenshire Cup will begin this weekend.
“It is a competition with a rich history which we are proud to sponsor.
“Once again the draw for this season’s competition has thrown some up some intriguing ties and we look forward to seeing how the tournament progresses as 11 competing clubs battle to lift the famous old trophy.
“It’s a shame that no supporters will be allowed to attend the matches, but the EE will strive to provide the best possible coverage of the tournament for north-east football fans.”
Aberdeenshire and District FA president Garry Farquhar added: “I am pleased that the 124th Evening Express Aberdeenshire Cup is getting under way this weekend.
“It is a pity that there will be no fans allowed to see the matches. There are some cracking ties, with new entrants Dyce Juniors making their competitive debut at Deveronvale.
“Once again we are indebted to the Evening Express for their sponsorship and I am positive north-east football fans will keep up to date on how their team is doing by reading the match reports in the Evening Express.”