@splstats takes a look at some of the numbers behind this weekend’s Scottish League Cup Final between Hibernian and Ross County.
1 Ross County are competing in their first ever League Cup final, making them the 22nd different club to appear in the final of the competition in its 70-year history. The Staggies’ Highland rivals Inverness were the last club to make their debut in the final, back in 2013/14 when they lost to Aberdeen on penalties after a 0-0 draw. First-time finalists have lost more often than not – of the 21 other sides who have played in the final of this competition, only eight won the trophy on their first attempt, and six of those were in the 1940s or 1950s. Of the last seven final debutants, only two have brought home the trophy – Dundee United in 1979/80, and Livingston in 2003/04. Livi’s victory came, of course, against Hibernian, who are also County’s opponents on Sunday.
10 Hibernian have reached the League Cup final for a 10th time, making them just the fourth club to reach double figures in this tournament, with Rangers (34), Celtic (30) and Aberdeen (13) being the others. Alan Stubbs and his side will be aiming to take the trophy back to Leith for a fourth time, with Hibs having most recently lifted the trophy in 2006/07. A victory on Sunday would pull them level with Edinburgh rivals Hearts, who have also won it four times. Amazingly, all four of Hearts’ victories came before Hibernian’s first – the Jam Tarts last won the trophy in 1962/63, while Hibs didn’t taste success until 1972/73.
5 Although Ross County are in their first League Cup final, they have taken part in the showpiece occasion of the other two national cup competitions. This will be their sixth cup final since joining the SFL back in 1994, and Michael Gardyne will have taken part in five of them. County’s only visit to the Scottish Cup Final saw them beaten 3-0 by Dundee United in 2009/10. They have had more success in the Challenge Cup, beating Clyde in 2006/07 and Queen of the South in 2010/11, though they did lose to Falkirk in 2004/05, and Airdrie in 2008/09. The Falkirk defeat was the only one Gardyne didn’t play in - he was still in the Celtic youth team at that point.
3 Hibernian are aiming to become just the third club to win the League Cup whilst playing outside the top tier of Scottish football. The first club to do so were East Fife, who defeated Falkirk after a replay back in 1947/48 - the Fifers would go on to win the trophy twice more in the next six seasons, but those later wins came as a top-flight club. The other second-tier side to win the trophy were Raith Rovers, who defeated Celtic on penalties in 1994/95. Since then, both Dundee (1995/96) and Ayr United (2001/02) have taken part in the final as lower-league clubs, but both suffered defeat. However, Hibs’ impressive record against top-flight opposition this season will make them feel they have a good chance. The Hibees have played six matches against Premiership sides in cup competitions, and have picked up four wins and two draws.
6 Regardless of who wins the trophy on Sunday, we will have a sixth different League Cup winner in six seasons. This has never previously happened history of the tournament. Since 2010/11, the trophy has gone to Rangers, Kilmarnock, St Mirren, Aberdeen and Celtic, and this year it will travel to either Edinburgh or Dingwall. If you include the Scottish Cup, you can take that tally to 10 different winners in the last 12, with Dundee United, Hearts, St Johnstone and Inverness all getting their hands on that trophy; Celtic winning the other two.