The draw for the 121st edition of the Evening Express Aberdeenshire Cup has been revealed.
Aberdeen Lord Provost Barney Crockett and city council leader Jenny Laing had the honour of drawing the ties for the second oldest cup competition in world football at the Town House.
Alongside the Highland League teams in this year’s competition pot were Aberdeen, who have been absent from recent editions of the Shire Cup, as well as junior outfit Banks o’ Dee.
Representatives of most of the clubs involved were in attendance to see the draw throw up tasty clashes from the first round on.
The Dons are set to get their return to the competition under way on Wednesday August 1 with a tie against Buckie Thistle at Victoria Park, while Inverurie Locos will welcome Dee to Harlaw Park.
After three first round matches, the second round on Wednesday August 22 sees the rest of the teams start their quest for the cup, with a mouthwatering repeat of last year’s final as champions Formartine United travel to Cove Rangers’ new Balmoral Stadium.
Aberdeenshire and District Football Association secretary Brian Christie was delighted with the draw.
He said: “I’m chuffed. The fact Aberdeen have managed to fit us back in adds a bit, especially for the (other) clubs.
“The games Aberdeen play away from home will boost the revenues of the Highland League and junior clubs.
“There’s a lot of good ties in there. With Banks o’ Dee, the Grill League Cup normally scuppers them and they decide themselves whether to enter or not.
“Last year was the first year they didn’t, so it’s brilliant they’re back in. That’s 11 out of the 13 clubs in the association.”
Peterhead and Aberdeen University are the only sides in the ADFA not taking part in the 2018 Shire Cup, which will start just over three weeks earlier than last season in order to avoid clashing with the clubs’ other commitments.
Aberdeenshire Cup draw in full:
First round (to be played August 1) – Fraserburgh v Huntly, Inverurie Locos v Banks o’ Dee, Buckie Thistle v Aberdeen
Second round (to be played august 22) – Keith v Turriff United, Buckie Thistle or Aberdeen v Inverurie Locos or Banks o’ Dee, Deveronvale v Fraserburgh or Huntly, Cove Rangers v Formartine United
Semi-finals (to be played September 12) – Keith or Turriff United V Buckie Thistle or Aberdeen or Inverurie Locos or Banks o’ Dee, Deveronvale or Fraserburgh or Huntly v Cove Rangers or Formartine United
Final (to be played october 6) – Semi final 1 winner v semi final 2 winner