It's Inverness Caledonian Thistle versus Falkirk in the Scottish Cup Final.
This is the fifth trip to the final for the Bairns. They won the Cup in 1913 and 1957, and were runners-up in 1997 and 2009. Caley have never been to the final. The two clubs have met in Scottish Cup play once before, in Round Six of the 2008-09 tournament when Falkirk won.
Falkirk have also met Inverness Caledonian three times and Inverness Thistle once in Scottish Cup competition, winning every time.
Falkirk and Inverness CT played head to head in the Premier League from 2005-06 to 2008-09. Falkirk won eight matches, Inverness CT six, with two draws.
Nevertheless, Inverness CT are favourites today.
Scottish Cup futility. 19 of 42 SPFL clubs have won the Scottish Cup, which means that 23 have not. Many of those 23 have been trying for over a century. And some of the clubs that have won it did so over a century ago: Dumbarton (1883); Queen's Park (1893); Hibernian (1902). St Johnstone won for the first time last year, after over a century of trying. The trouble is the Old Firm hogging all the Cups. Even so, Rangers went 25 years without a Cup, from 1903 to 1928.
If Falkirk win today they will enter the 2015-16 UEFA Europa League second qualifying round, and Inverness will enter the first round. If Inverness win, they will enter 2Q and St. Johnstone will enter 1Q.
If Falkirk win today they will join a select club of three-time winners: Kilmarnock, St. Mirren, Clyde and Vale of Leven.
If Falkirk win today it will be the first time since 1938 that a second-flight club has won. East Fife did it that year.
If Inverness win today it will be the first time since 1947 that the Cup has gone to consecutive first-timers. Clyde won in 1939, and Aberdeen in 1947. There were no Scottish Cups in between. The golden age of first-timers was the 1920s when Kilmarnock, Partick, Morton, Airdrieonians and St Mirren all became Scottish Cup holders.
It's also the FA Cup final. Arsenal v Aston Villa. Arsenal have won eleven times, including last year. Aston Villa have won seven times but not since 1957, the year Falkirk last won the Scottish Cup. [Arsenal win handily.]
The first leg of the Premiership playoff final took place Thursday: Rangers 1 - 3 Motherwell.* The second leg is tomorrow, and looms larger than the Scottish Cup for both clubs. By finishing third in the Championship Rangers have had to play six playoff games as opposed to Motherwell's two, and if Motherwell prevail we'll hear a lot about the unequal format.** But while Rangers have been advancing through the playoffs, Motherwell have been engaged in playoff-intensity league matches trying to escape eleventh place. In the end Rangers will have appeared in only one more match than Motherwell in May, so it's not so uneven really.
*Motherwell's first win at Ibrox since 1997.
**I was criticising it this time last year.
[Inverness 2 - 1 Falkirk.]
The final of the UEFA Europa League was played Wednesday. Dniporo Dnipropetrovsk 2 - 3 Sevilla.
AFC Champions League Round of 16 second leg action this week:
Kashiwa Reysol 1 - 2 Suwon Samsung Bluewings. Reysol win on aggregate by the away goal rule and advance to the quarter-finals.
The New Yorker has a venerable tradition of printing original caricatures and illustrations to document current Broadway hits. Here is R. Kikuo Johnson's illustration to accompany Hilton Als' review from the May 4, 2015 New Yorker of the musical Fun Homebased on Alison Bechdel's graphic novel. I think it's grand that they opted to go forward with a new drawing by another artist instead of back into the source material. Not a lot of journals make a point of making new art.
Montedio Yamagata is a J1 soccer club based in Tendō, Yamagata Prefecture in Tōhoku. Officially the club represents all of Yamagata. Montedio is a made-up name incorporating European-sounding words for "mountain" and "god".* They wear blue at home and red away.
The club was founded in 1984 as NEC Yamagata Soccer Club of the Tōhoku Regional League. They won that league four years in a row from 1990 to 1993, entered the Japan Football League in 1994, and assumed the name Montedio in 1996. They entered the new J2 in 1999. They made it to J1 for the three seasons of 2009 to 2011, were relegated, and this year are back up. Their best season was 2010, when they finished 13th in J1. Their best showing in the Emperor's Cup was last year's when they made the final.
The squad includes two Brazilians, Alceu and Diego Souza, a Peruvian, Romero Frank, and a South Korean, Kim Byeom-Yong.
Their ground, ND Soft Stadium, holds 20,000. Tendō has only 61,000 inhabitants, but Yamagata Prefecture as a whole has over a million.
Today Montedio host Vissel Kobe [and lose 0 - 1.]
*I'll say this for Japanese football club names: they make for easy Google searches. There's nothing else on Earth named Montedio Yamagata. By way of contrast, try googling Rangers or United.
AFC Champions League Round of 16 first leg action involving Japanese clubs this week:
Suwon Samsung Bluewings 2 - 3 Kashiwa Reysol
FC Seoul 1 - 3 Gamba Osaka
On Wednesday in the Scottish Premiership playoffs at was Rangers 2 - 0 Hibs.
Yesterday UCD AFC visited undefeated Finn Harps and played to a 2 - 2 draw.
Today: Hibs 1 - 0 Rangers. [Hibs remain in the Championship.]
It's the final of the South Region Challenge Cup between BSC Glasgow and Civil Service Strollers. Nope, I never heard of it either. [BSC win 2 - 0.]
Tomorrow is the last game in the Turkish First League schedule. Karşıyaka, in tenth place out of 18, are safe from both relegation and promotion. Today they host Adanaspor. Following Lig. 1 for a third of a season has had one benefit: now we know that the Turkish word for sport is spor. Adana is a city in the Roman province of Cilicia. [Karşıyaka win 2 - 1.]