CONSIDERING only three teams in Scottish football have bettered Hearts’ tally of eight Scottish Cup wins, and that the team at the top of the pile with 38 wins is Celtic, it may be considered surprising that the two clubs have only faced off three times in the final of the tournament since it all kicked off way back in 1873.

Even more surprising may be the fact that when they take to the Hampden pitch on Saturday, it will be the first time they have met in the season’s showpiece occasion in 64 years.

So, looking to the past for some indication of how the meeting in the near future may go is somewhat futile, and so too sadly is the task of tracking down anyone present at the first two meetings, given that those games took place in 1901 and 1907 respectively.

The history books are our only reference point for what happened then, with Hearts coming out on top in a high-scoring 4-3 win over Celtic in front of 15,000 at Ibrox Stadium in the first meeting, as goals from Bobby Walker, Charles Thomson and a double from Mark Bell did the damage.

Celtic gained a measure of revenge six years later with a 3-0 win in front of 50,000 at the national stadium, as a Willie Orr penalty and a double from Peter Somers – a player dubbed the ‘Powder Monkey’ by manager Willie Maley for his proficiency at setting up goals for ‘The Mighty’ Jimmy Quinn - gave the club their first ever league and cup double.

The game was to prove one of the high-points in the career and all-too short life of the tragic Somers, a man who went down as one of the many Celtic legends of the era who played a major role in Maley’s six-in-a-row side.

Born in Strathaven in 1878, Somers started his career in and around the Motherwell area, turning out for the likes of Mossend Celtic, Cadzow Oak and Hamilton Academical.

The inside-left made his move to Celtic in 1897, and despite an impressive start to his Parkhead career, he was allowed to leave for two loan spells in England with Blackburn Rovers, where he performed well. It was upon his return to Celtic in the summer of 1902 though that everything fell into place at Celtic for Somers, linking up with the afore-mentioned Quinn and Jimmy McMenemy to form the famous attacking trio that would prove so pivotal to their dominance of the Scottish game in the era.

Somers’ deft footwork and considered approach to the game stuck out in an era more renowned for brutal tackling and direct attacking play, leading Maley to dub him a ‘subtle strategist’, but he would perhaps have other less complimentary names for his player later in Somers’ career.

Famed almost as much among the Celtic fans of the era for his talent for piano playing and impressions at supporters’ functions, it was rumoured that the famously quick-witted Somers had a nailed-on impression of his manager in his repertoire. While the reasons surrounding his departure from Celtic in 1909, just two years after his double in the Scottish Cup final defeat of Hearts and after 65 goals in 219 appearances - remain a mystery, the story goes that perhaps Somers’ willingness to bite back at Maley had worn a little thin with the manager.

Somers would return to Hamilton but would retire a year later and go on to become a director at the club. Sadly, after taking ill and having part of his leg amputated, Somers passed away of cardiac failure in Glasgow at the age of just 36 in 1914, but his impact on Celtic, not only in the final of 1907, ensures his legacy as a Celtic great.

His contribution to the club, beyond the bare statistics his six league titles, three Scottish Cups, four Glasgow Cups and four Glasgow Charity Cups, was recognised by the Celtic Graves Society in a ceremony last year marking a restoration of his final resting place in the West Cemetery in Hamilton.

The 132,840 that packed into Hampden Park back in 1956 to see Hearts defeat Celtic by three goals to one were spoiled for star quality too. There may well be more than a few of those punters who are still around now who were old enough at the time to remember it, and when you look at the names involved, it is little wonder they would hold onto the memory.

A double from Ian Crawford and a strike from Alfie Conn gave a Hearts side containing the likes of Dave Mackay, Freddie Glidden, Alex Young and Willie Bauld a famous victory, with the solitary reply from Mike Haughney not enough for Jimmy McGrory’s Celtic, despite a star-studded line-up containing the likes of Sean Fallon, Neilly Mochan and Charlie Tully.

So, whatever happens at Hampden on Saturday, the players of today have a lot to live up to. But whoever wins, whether it is Celtic clinching a historic treble Treble or Hearts upsetting the odds to lift the cup for the ninth time, the power of the famous old trophy will ensure that the victors will be talked about for generations to come, just like Peter ‘Powder Monkey’ Somers.