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Last Updated: Monday, 15 March, 2004, 11:53 GMT
Livi triumph over adversity
By Colin Moffat

Livingston manager David Hay
Livingston manager David Hay lifts the CIS Cup
Livingston's CIS Insurance Cup win is a wonderful football tale.

The West Lothian club are currently in the hands of administrators and face an uncertain future after just nine action-packed years in existence.

In that short space of time the club have climbed through Scotland's three lower leagues to reach the top flight and even had a taste of European football.

And thanks to goals from Derek Lilley and Jamie McAllister against Hibs on Sunday, Livingston now have their first piece of major silverware.

It has been a tumultuous season for the club, who had a change of manager early on when Marcio Maximo Barcellos left after a few months.

And the administrators were called in just hours after February's CIS Cup semi-final, leading to the sacking of seven players.

Six more players were asked to take sizeable pay cuts in order to stay on.

Skipper Stuart Lovell, Marvin Andrews, Alan Main, Emmanuel Dorado, Oscar Rubio and Fernando Pasquinelli agreed to reduced terms and were all in the squad for Sunday's win.

The club have been a victim of their own success and Livingston's meteoric rise has come at a cost.

They have invested heavily to bring in quality players from all corners of the globe and to build a neat stadium that complies with the SPL's regulations.

The money generated by the CIS Cup win will make a small dent in the club's debt and a successful team is the key to bringing in more money.

However, all too often the empty seats outnumber the spectators at the 10,000-capacity City Stadium.

And the fact Livingston could only take some 7,000 fans to Hampden for the club's biggest day, poses real questions about the long-term viability of the financially-troubled outfit.

But now is the time to enjoy the sweet taste of success against the odds for a team who were an Edinburgh-based, non-league side 30 years ago.

In 1974 Ferranti Thistle became Meadowbank Thistle to join the senior ranks and in 1995 the team changed identity again, moving to the New Town of Livingston.

Jamie McAllister celebrates his goal at Hampden
Jamie McAllister celebrates his goal at Hampden
The Third Division title was claimed at the first time of asking, while they lasted three seasons in the Second Division.

In 2001 their incredible rise continued when Livingston won the First Division title to book a place at the top table.

Livingston took the Premier League by storm in their debut season, with manager Jim Leishman leading the club to a third place finish and a Uefa Cup spot.

Their first ever European tie was a trip to Liechtenstein to take on FC Vaduz in the qualifying round of the Uefa Cup.

And their run came to an end when they went down 8-6 on aggregate to Austrian Champions League regulars Sturm Graz in the first round proper.

After three seasons as coach Leishman was replaced by British football's first ever Brazilian coach, Maximo, in the summer.

And the club's season looked in turmoil after a poor start and Maximo's decision to return to his homeland after little more than 16 weeks.

But former Scotland star David Hay, who has been with the club since 2000 in a coaching capacity and as general manager, took over the first team reigns and steered them to Hampden Park with cup wins against Queen's Park, Dundee United, Aberdeen and Dundee.

Hay was a winner of several trophies with Celtic as a player, but Sunday's win must rank among his greatest achievements, given the scale of his resources and the cloud of uncertainty hanging over the City Stadium.



SEE ALSO
Livingston lift CIS Cup
14 Mar 04  |  Other Scottish
Livi hail fairytale victory
14 Mar 04  |  Other Scottish
Livi duo swear at stewards
14 Mar 04  |  Other Scottish



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