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Wednesday, 13 March, 2002, 12:01 GMT
Hampden set for Ayr raid?
Ayr captain John Hughes celebrates the win over Hibs
Will Ayr be celebrating at Hampden again on Sunday?
Should Rangers beware the Ides of March as they prepare to take on First Division Ayr United in Sunday's CIS Insurance Cup final?

The omens are mixed, but history is heavily weighted in favour of the millionaires from the south side of Glasgow.

The Somerset Park team will be contesting their first major cup final against the Glasgow giants, who have made space in the Ibrox trophy cabinet for the League Cup on a record 21 occasions.

The portents for followers of the Honest Men get worse.

The last time the teams met at Hampden was in the Scottish Cup semi final of 2000 with Rangers running out 7-0 winners.

The Ibrox side went two goals better back in 1929, which remains Ayr's record defeat.

Bert Konterman celebrates the winning goal against Celtic in the semi
Rangers have won the League Cup 21 times
Ayr's last triumph over Rangers came in 1976 and you have to go back to 1953 to discover their single League Cup success against the men from Govan.

Formed in 1910, Ayr United have managed to feature in two lesser finals: the B&Q Cup competition for Scotland's lower division clubs - they finished runners-up in 1991 and 1992.

However, it's far from all doom and gloom for Gordon Dalziel's team.

Despite not managing to mount a serious challenge for promotion from the First Division, Ayr have reserved their best form for the cup competitions and have claimed some notable scalps along the way.

To reach the final, Ayr beat Hibernian in the semi final and also saw off SPL opposition in the shape of Dunfermline at an earlier stage.

And Dalziel's men will be back at the national stadium six days after the meeting with Rangers to tackle the other half of Glasgow's Old Firm.

Ayr will take on Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi final, having beaten Dundee United in the previous round.

Ayr's Paul Sheerin celebrates against Dundee United
Ayr have claimed three SPL scalps in cup competition
Manager Dalziel has a few other reasons to be optimistic ahead of Sunday's game.

The Ayr gaffer was a goal hero for Raith Rovers in the last League Cup final major upset.

Dalziel was on target for the Kirkcaldy side against Celtic in 1994, when the First Division side shocked everyone with a penalty shoot-out win after a 2-2 stalemate.

Dalziel can count Rangers among his former clubs and he won his first League Cup medal with the Ibrox side twenty years ago, when the Blues beat Dundee United.

The manager will no doubt be reminding his players of Raith's triumph eight years ago, but there are few other examples of surprise winners he can point to.

Since the competition's inception in 1946, there has only really been one other major upset, when Partick Thistle rocked Celtic 4-1 in 1971.

You could say it was time for another turn-up for the books.


Up for the Cup

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See also:

05 Feb 02 | CIS Ins Cup
06 Feb 02 | CIS Ins Cup

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