Denmark 1992. Greece 2004. Leicester 2012. Barcelona 2018. We could go on forever.
Football has given us some of the most shocking moments in the history of sports. When the football gods want something unlikely to happen, they make it happen. But even amidst these extraordinary events, one new outcome now stands out as being truly remarkable. The victory of sixth-tier Darvel Football Club over Aberdeen Football Club in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup.
No other top-tier squad has ever fallen against a team FIVE divisions lower in the pyramid. This was more than simply an upset; it was a seismic shift in the sporting landscape.
Darvel, a Scottish sixth-tier side, had never beaten a top-flight team before.
Aberdeen, on the other hand, is a talented and experienced club that has consistently competed at the highest possible level of Scottish football for generations. But none of this mattered yesterday.
Darvel, the underdogs, the minnows, the David to Aberdeen’s Goliath, headed to the field with a resolve and a belief that would eventually be Aberdeen’s doom.
The game was tight and hard contested, with both sides giving their best to advance to the next round of the competition. Jordan Kirkpatrick’s deflected shot in the first half gave the underdogs the lead.
The man in goal, Chris Truesdale’s persistence kept Aberdeen out of contention for as long as possible. As the clock ticked down and the final whistle blew, it was evident that there could only be one winner – Darvel.
Kirkpatrick, the hero and goal-scorer, could not truly digest what he had just done. He had a simple request for his boss – “I’m meant to be at work so I need to phone my boss and see if I can get the night off”.
“It will take a few days to digest how big a shock this is. It wasn’t even the best of strikes. It was one of those where you hope it hits the back of the net and it does.”
Ryan Duncan and Luis Lopes, Aberdeen players, were denied three times from close quarters in the second half by Truesdale, a school teacher.
“I have got school in the morning,” Truesdale responded when questioned about the celebrations. “I don’t think we will get much sleep tonight.”
And sleep they did not get. Darvel’s players were seen on camera dancing in the locker room, screaming out Cher’s Believe for the second time. They then went out to Glasgow for a night on the tiles. “I’m not sure where half of them are,” Kennedy, the manager, said today.
Kennedy attributed his team’s triumph to their belief. He claims he spent weeks leading up to the game demanding that everyone on his staff believed it could be won, before transferring that idea onto the players.
Just look at this incredible pre-match team talk, which could motivate even the laziest of players to play the hardest of games.
Darvel has come a long way in a short period of time. After 132 years of competition in junior leagues, the club didn’t change to a senior team until 2020.
Darvel, owned by the MD of Brownings the Bakers, have subsequently improved players and infrastructure, won two consecutive titles, and are well positioned for another shot at promotion to Scotland’s fifth division, one step away from the pro leagues, this summer.
It was a stunning triumph that shook the Scottish football community and beyond. A triumph that will be remembered as one of the greatest underdog stories of all time. A triumph that will be remembered for years as proof of the power of belief, hard effort, and an unquenchable will to achieve.
Sir Alexander Fleming, a Darvel citizen, may have started the era of medicine, but what he did could hardly stand up to what other members of Darvel have now done – beat Aberdeen.