Southend face the daunting prospect of going head to head with Whalsay in Saturday’s Parish Cup final, after the Bonnie Isle clinched the Shetland senior football championship on Monday with three matches still to be played.
Whalsay have looked all but invincible this season, also adding the Fraser Cup on Saturday to last month’s Manson Cup triumph, with only the Madrid Cup evading their grasp so far.
For Southend it is the second parish final in a row, following last year’s 4-2 defeat to Delting, and their third in nine years, having lost 5-1 to Delting in 2002.
However, they will go into the match with plenty of hope, with the fact that they defeated Whalsay in last year’s semi-final proving that anything is possible.
Whalsay’s strength in depth has been a vital factor in their senior league triumph, with five of this year’s inter-county squad in Richard Arthur, Gary Jamieson, Karl Williamson, Brian Irvine and Keith Pearson.
Add to that former Shetland captain John Montgomery, John Simpson and Laurence Pearson who currently ply their trade with Celtic and Scalloway respectively, plus county fringe men Ian Simpson, Allister Johnson and Ross Irvine and the experience of Colin Leask, and you have a pretty impressive line-up.
Southend’s only current Shetland player is the influential Leighton Flaws of Delting, but they have others who turn out regularly for Ness United in the senior league, including Craig Leslie, Alwyn Flaws, John Rosie, Tomas Smith and John Robert Burgess, plus veteran David Budge who has been over the course before.
Flaws conceded that Whalsay were massive favourites. “If it was a fight I don’t think anybody would be betting on us,” he said.
“But if we get plenty of folk cheering us on we’ll have a chance. We’re hoping for at least one bus-load of supporters from the Ness as the Parish Cup seems to bring out the crowds. We’re definitely the underdogs but I’m really looking forward to it.”