Intriguing finale in the WDCU Premiership
Ayr could end their long wait for Western Union success when they host Clydesdale at Cambusdoon today.
The Alloway side last lifted the famous Borland Trophy in 1996 but they are within touching distance of ending the drought after a season which has taken many by surprise.
Unbeaten throughout the campaign, they need just four points from today’s encounter to clinch the title with a week to spare.
It might not be quite so easy, though, since Clydesdale still have their own ambitions.
The Titwood side, with an unique trophy quintuple in their sights, are the only side who can catch Ayr and, despite having a Scottish Cup final against Grange to look forward to tomorrow (Sun), the league will be their focus today.
It all makes for an intriguing finale to a stop-start season which saw a mid-summer break to give the Commonwealth Games centre stage.
Ayr and Clydesdale have the limelight now and home skipper Andi McElnea declared: “We are looking to maintain our unbeaten run for the duration of the season.
“The points situation isn't something that we have talked about this week as it's just been a straight forward case of preparing as we have been all season.
“The boys have had a superb season and we will look to ensure that we get recognition for it by securing the league title.”
Clydesdale already have the Rowan Cup in their trophy cabinet and have the Murgitroyd T20 Cup finals day and the West League Cup final to look forward to in addition to the big prizes at stake this weekend.
A convincing victory today would take the title to the last day of the season when Dale entertain Drumpellier and Ayr visit Dumfries.
Colin Mitchell, Clydesdale’s chairman of cricket, declared: “Our focus on Saturday will simply be on playing good cricket.
“It looks as if the title is Ayr’s to lose and we need a big win but we’ll concentrate on the cricket – not the maths.
“Hopefully we can put pressure on them and see what happens.”
Both sides are at full strength.
As for the cup final, Grange and Clydesdale have dominated the national knockout competition with thirteen victories between them since its inception in 1966.
Grange, the holders, have had one more success than the Glasgow side who last lifted the trophy in 1988.
Mitchell added: “The last win is ancient history to most people at the club and the current crop of players are desperate to make their mark.
“Grange have more recent experience of playing at this level but I think the underdogs’ tag suits us well.”
While Clydesdale have not had their hands on the trophy in recent times, three key players – Con De Lange, Majid Haq and Richie Berrington – have all won it with different clubs.
Grange, meanwhile, recall Gordon Goudie and Gregor Maiden for the final, two of six full caps in their side.
Elsewhere in the Union today, Uddingston host East Kilbride, Dumfries travel to Renfrew and Drumpellier and West of Scotland engage in a basement battle at Langloan.