Buckie Thistle, a Highland League club, will take on Celtic, the reigning Scottish Cup champions, in a historic fourth-round match at Celtic Park on Sunday, January 21. This will be the first time the two teams have ever met in a competitive fixture, and the biggest game in Buckie’s history.
Buckie Thistle’s journey to the fourth round
Buckie Thistle, nicknamed the Jags, have been playing in the Highland League since 1909, and have won the league title 11 times, most recently in 2017. They have also won the Highland League Cup seven times, and the Scottish Qualifying Cup (North) six times.
The Jags qualified for the Scottish Cup by finishing fourth in the Highland League in the 2022-23 season. They entered the competition in the first round, where they beat Civil Service Strollers 3-1 at home. In the second round, they faced another Lowland League side, East Kilbride, and won 2-1 away. In the third round, they pulled off a stunning upset by defeating League One side Dumbarton 4-2 at home, with goals from Sam Robertson, Kevin Fraser, Scott Adams and Andy MacAskill.
Buckie Thistle have scored 10 goals and conceded five in their three Scottish Cup games so far, and are the only Highland League club left in the competition.
Celtic’s dominance in the Scottish Cup
Celtic, on the other hand, are the most successful club in the history of the Scottish Cup, having won the trophy 41 times, including the last five editions. They are also the current Scottish Premiership champions, and have won the league title 52 times, more than any other club.
The Hoops entered the Scottish Cup in the fourth round, as they were given a bye in the previous rounds due to their participation in the UEFA Champions League. They were drawn against Buckie Thistle at home, in what many consider to be a mismatch of epic proportions.
Celtic have scored 58 goals and conceded 12 in their 20 league games so far, and are top of the table with 54 points, 11 points ahead of second-placed Rangers. They have also scored 18 goals and conceded four in their six Champions League games, and have qualified for the knockout stage as the runners-up of Group B, behind Bayern Munich.
The challenges and opportunities for both sides
The Scottish Cup clash between Buckie Thistle and Celtic will be a David vs Goliath encounter, with the former facing a monumental challenge to overcome the latter. Buckie Thistle will have to deal with several disadvantages, such as:
- The huge gap in quality, experience and resources between the two teams
- The unfamiliarity of playing at a large stadium with a capacity of 60,000, compared to their own Victoria Park, which can hold 5,000
- The lack of VAR (video assistant referee) technology, which they will have to pay for if they want to use it, as Celtic have refused to cover the costs
- The inability to wear their traditional green and white hoops, which clash with Celtic’s colours, and having to wear their away kit of yellow and black instead
However, Buckie Thistle will also have some opportunities to make the most of their historic occasion, such as:
- The chance to play against some of the best players in Scotland, and test themselves against a top European side
- The exposure and recognition they will receive from the media and the public, as the game will be broadcast live on BBC Scotland
- The financial boost they will get from the ticket sales and the prize money, which will help them improve their facilities and infrastructure
- The possibility of creating a fairy tale story by pulling off a miracle result, and advancing to the fifth round of the Scottish Cup for the first time ever
What to expect from the game
The game between Buckie Thistle and Celtic is expected to be a one-sided affair, with the latter being the overwhelming favourites to win by a large margin. Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou will likely rotate his squad and rest some of his key players, but will still field a strong team that will dominate possession and create chances. Buckie Thistle manager Graeme Stewart will likely set up his team to defend deep and compact, and try to frustrate Celtic and hit them on the counter-attack.
The game will kick off at 3 pm on Sunday, January 21, at Celtic Park, and will be officiated by referee Nick Walsh. The winner of the game will progress to the fifth round of the Scottish Cup, where they will face either Dundee United or St Johnstone.