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Wednesday 12th April 2017

Talking Kit - Livingston 2003/04

Neil Sargent looks back at the League Cup winning Livingston team of 2003/04 - a campaign full of incredible highs and sad lows for the Lions.

Livingston were founded in 1995 and over the next 20 years they experienced remarkable success in a relatively short period of time for a football club.

They rose up through the divisions in just six years, winning three titles and promotion to the SPL in 2001. A third-place finish in 2001-02  was their best ever league position and ensured a debut on the European stage the following year.

Arguably their greatest success, though, came in 2003-04 when the team battled through a number of off-field problems to record probably the best campaign in their history.

After experimenting with an orange and white kit in 2002-03, Livi returned to their traditional gold top with black shorts for the 2003-04 campaign. The top was a simple design with subtle black trim and the badge sat in the centre of the chest. The shorts were black with gold trim, and the socks were gold with black trim. The kit was sponsored by Intelligent Finance for the second year in a row, and manufactured by Jerzeez.

In the dugout was Brazilian head coach Marcio Maximo. His CV was nothing if not diverse, listing Brazil Under 20s, Al Ahli, and the Cayman Islands national team among his former clubs, but in Scotland he was an unknown quantity. His appointment took most people by surprise, but also created excitement at the prospect of Samba-style football coming to West Lothian.

In the end, though, the appointment didn’t work out, and former co-manager David Hay found himself at the helm again just nine games into the season. Maximo’s reign lasted 132 days, but he picked up three wins and three draws during that time, the highlight of which was a fine 3-0 win away to Aberdeen.

Despite being forced into an early managerial reshuffle, the team continued to pick up enough points to keep them sitting comfortably in mid-table. By Christmas Day they were in fifth place, 15 points ahead of bottom club Partick Thistle. What’s more, they had a League Cup semi-final to look forward to after seeing off Queen’s Park, Dundee United and Aberdeen.

The turn of the year, though, presented further obstacles. The club went into administration in February, just hours before the Easter Road semi against Dundee. The players didn’t let it affect them, and an injury-time penalty from Derek Lilley secured their place in a national final for the first time.

The club remained in administration for the rest of the season, but their remarkable fairy story on the park rolled on. On Sunday 14 March, 2004, goals from Lilley and Jamie McAllister gave Livi a 2-0 win over Hibernian in the League Cup Final at Hampden Park - a stunning triumph in the face of adversity.

Hay’s men returned to Hampden a month later for a Scottish Cup semi-final with Celtic, but this time they lost the match 3-1. In the league, they consolidated their place in the top flight with a ninth-place finish, including a 4-1 win against Hibs on the last day of the season.

In a campaign where they lost their manager after nine games and suffered the hardship of administration, a first ever cup win together with a Scottish Cup semi-final and a ninth-place finish was an incredible achievement for a club that was still less than 20 years old.