2002/03 Back in the First
A serialised account of our season by our man who has been at almost every match home and away - Ewan Lithgow
Part Five - October
October started much more successfully though with a win away to perennial bogey side Alloa Athletic in a crucial bottom of the table battle. John O'Neill scored the only goal of the game just before the break but Arbroath's surprising defeat of League leaders Falkirk meant we stayed in the bottom two anyway.

Seven days later we lost 2-1 at Clyde in a game brought forward a week from the Challenge Cup final weekend. Jim Thomson headed us into a first half lead but two goals in a minute just after the interval by Kernaghan and Keogh were enough for the home side to win despite Andy Millen's sending off for a horror two-footed challenge on Robbie Neilson.

On Monday night Scotland's Under 21 side beat Ghana 2-0 at Palmerston in that aforementioned international friendly.

That brought the Challenge Cup Final firmly into focus. Our second ever national cup final, this time saw us play the role of favourites whilst Brechin City were the plucky underdogs. In the end a crowd of 6,428, mostly Queens fans, saw us win rather comfortably by 2-0. The first goal was slightly controversial with John O'Neill's effort not looking as if it had crossed the line before it was hooked away but the assistant referee gave the goal. Any doubts were removed by Lyle heading a second goal from McAlpine's great cross just into the second half. In a shock move Sean O'Connor, back in training for a week, got a seat on the bench and played the final ten minutes or so. For Andy Goram the win completed a unique clean sweep of domestic honours in the Scottish game, the only player to have done so.

Queens press forward

The parties continued long into the night and beyond once all and sundry returned to Dumfries but the next day a couple of Queens players made the press for the wrong reasons. Sadly two Dumfriesshire people were killed when a lorry hit their car on the M74 on the Sunday night. Although the couple were not connected to the Cup Final directly, John O'Neill's girlfriend Karen was also in a car struck by the lorry and is lucky to be alive as she climbed from the wreckage. O'Neill's cup final shirt, given to Karen for safe-keeping, burns in the accident. Meanwhile, back in Dumfries, Joe McAlpine is arrested and charged with drink driving. He would later lose his driving licence for a short period.

Following a week of celebration Queens still manage to rise to the occasion and defeat Ross County 2-0 at Palmerston, Derek Lyle scoring both goals. The match is perhaps most memorable for referee David Somers being knocked out cold by a full-blooded drive by Hugh Robertson which also resulted in a broken rib. Goram and Anderson decided to indulge in a bit of comedy and tried to carry the stricken ref off the pitch, which earned them a rap from SFA Referees Chief McVicar.

The referee 'leaves' the field

October ended on a high then with Queens having put another trophy in the cabinet and climbed out of the bottom two at last. Eleven points from eleven games saw us in 8th spot, two points above Arbroath and just two behind St Mirren and Ross County.

Ewan Lithgow

The Bell's Cup

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10

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