Winton reached the Ayrshire Cup Final in 1953 and played Irvine Victoria in four successive games.

IRVINE VICTORIA 1 – WINTON ROVERS 1
Ayrshire Cup Final Drawn
Victoria Miss Chances
Perfect weather conditions from the spectators point of view, at any rate, although the players would possibly agree it was too hot, favoured the final of the Ayrshire Cup which was played between Irvine Victoria and Winton Rovers at Recreation Park, Stevenston last Saturday (9 May 1953).  The crowd turned up to the tune of between six and seven thousand, providing a gate of 285.  Victoria favoured their usual formation while Rovers had the services of Cuthbertson, their former outside right, at present in the services.  The game ended in a 1-1 draw and while it was quite a good result, there was no doubt that Victoria, on chances, should have had the game well won.  Territorially, too, they had the advantage, but they didn’t turn it into account.
     The teams were
Irvine Victoria
- Ballantyne; Fowler and Clearie; Shedden, Hollywood and Duffin; Hay, Barr, Norwood, Wark and Matthews;
Winton Rovers
- Frew; Leck and Gemmell; Thomson, Milligan and Higgins; Bryceland, Cuthbertson, McEwan, Scollan and Kearney.  The referee was C McMurdo, Rutherglen.
     
Victoria opened on an aggressive roll and a pass from Duffin saw Matthews get the break from the block with Leck.
  He quickly transferred it to Norwood who cut right in and the centre was unfortunate to see his angular shot hit the far upright with Frew well beaten.  He should have scored, however, and an aerobic goal might have given them the zest for more.  The ball was returned, but was finally turned round for a corner.  In these opening stages, the Irvine side was definitely on top and one long lob upfield saw Norwood get the better of Milligan but he was slightly stunned in the tackle and was unable to follow up.
     There was danger in the first Ardrossan attack and anything might have happened had not McEwan got into an offside position.
  Back came Victoria and a cute slip back from Norwood to Wark saw the latter let fly a scoring shot only to see Frew bring off a spectacular save.  The ball broke to Hay who sent it back over and this time, Wark shot past.  A short spell of Ardrossan offensive petered out without their having created any great danger and again, it ws Frew who was in action, this time from a free kick.  The first goal, when it did come, was rather unexpected.  The ball was swung across from the right and while Frew and Milligan were apparently leaving it to each other, Matthews slipped in to touch to touch it past the keeper who touched the half-hit shot but failed to stop it.
     There followed a further period of Victoria pressure which failed to produce any material gain.
  In the latter stages of this half, Winton came more into the game as an attacking force and shortly before interval, they drew level when Bryceland beat Clearie and Ballantyne to the jump and headed through.  This spurred on Rovers to greater effort and three times in succession, Ballantyne had to be smart to fist the ball clear.  As in the first half, Victoria resumed on the attack and they had an early chance when Norwood slipped the ball to Barr but the latter failed to gather it properly and eventually turned it out to Matthews who shot weakly past.
     Frew was not as impressive, as we have seen him, dropping the ball frequently.
  On one such occasion, Norwood nipped in to get the ball at the bye-line and slip it over in front of goal but his mates were evidently taken too much by surprise to profit from the centre’s nippiness.  Hereabouts, Higgins, heading the ball, sustained a cut on the forehead which required a couple of stitches but he returned five minutes later and carried on at outside-left.  The Rovers also switched Bryceland to inside-right.  While the half-back was off, the Irvine club continued to press and with Frew beaten, the Ardrossan club was fortunate to see another defender head away a Wark try.  Barr worked his way past Gemmell and sent nicely over for Wark to head straight at Frew when he could have picked his spot.
     As in the first period, the fire gradually died out of the Irvine play and Rovers began to come into the picture.
  Victoria were fortunate to survive an Ardrossan claim when Higgins was on his way through and was obviously obstructed in an illegal fashion by Fowler and Rovers considered a corner kick poor consolation.  The kick, however, was almost disastrous for Vics for, with Ballantine nowhere, Fowler headed the ball against the crossbar and it was finally put past.  In the next raid, Ballantine almost brought disaster on himself.  He had picked up the ball, and instead of kicking it clear, he threw it out, but unfortunately, to the feet of Cuthbertson and the winger’s return caused a stir.  Fortunately for Victoria, McEwan was offside.  Irvine pressure and a cross from the right gave Barr a chance but he headed the ball straight at Frew.  Near time, Winton where again dangerous but once again McEwan spoiled the move by getting offside.
     This was not a great game by football standards but what it lacked in the finer points was to a great extent, compensated for the energy which both teams displayed.
  We indicated last week that much would depend on the Irvine forwards as to the ultimate result and this turned out to be the case.  Had they accepted the chances that came their way, the Cup would have come to Irvine without any possibility of doubt.  The defence, apart form odd moments, was sure enough but the front rank was not a success on this showing,  The biggest weakness was on the wings where Matthews was too eager to get rid of the ball and Hay revealed little versatility in his attempts to get round Gemmell.  Too often Hay carried the ball to the back and then foundered at close range in the tackle instead of opening out his tactics when others frequently failed.  Barr, too, was seem only spasmodically.  Norwood was the live-wire and he was unfortunate several times when he just failed to get the ball manoeuvred into proper position but even at that, he provided openings for his colleagues that should have been sufficient to win the game.
     Rovers were not the sprightly moving lot we have seen on previous occasions.
  The scheming of Donnelly was missed in the forward line and the inside men did not provide the wingers with the required service.  This was especially the case on the left where Kearney, always a danger man with a keen eye for the main chance, was practically starved.  Milligan was the big man in every sense in the Ardrossan defence but he it was who came to the rescue numerous times when all seemed lost.  But for their forward lapses, Victoria could have had the game well and truly won.  The replay was first fixed for the same ground on Wednesday 20 May but it was later found the ground was booked for that date and an alteration to Friday 22 May was necessary.

            Irvine Herald, 15 May 1953

IRVINE VICTORIA 2 – WINTON ROVERS 0
Irvine Teams To Meet In Vernon Trophy Final
Victoria Oust Winton in Semi-Final.

With the winners due to meet Meadow in the final, special interest attached to Monday (18 May 1953) night’s Vernon Trophy semi-final at Victoria Park, especially from a Victoria point of view as a win here would mean a local derby in the final with the prospect of a good financial return.  The teams had already drawn 2-2 in the first game at Ardrossan so that the issue was still a very open affair.  Vics were on their usual lines while Rovers relied on the same side that disposed of Ladeside in the Western League Cup semi-final on Saturday.  The game was a thriller all right and while the home side had the advantage, the narrow margin separating them - a goal scored by Norwood in the first half - always made an unexpected turn possible and kept interest at its height until Matthews secured the second goal a couple of minutes from time.  A fit Norwood in the second half, however, would probably have seen the result settled earlier though Rovers had their spells and Ballantyne played a big part in keeping them out with some fine saves.
     The teams were
Irvine Victoria - Ballantyne; Fowler and Clearie; Shedden, Hollywood and Duffin; Hay, Barr, Norwood, Wark and Matthews;

Winton Rovers - Frew; Black and Gemmell; Thomson, Milligan and Scollan; Bryceland, McEwan, McKenzie, Higgins and Kearney.
     
Play in the early stages, while keenly contested, was confined mostly to outfield, the defences giving the opposing forwards little chance to settle at close quarters.
  Victoria, kicking towards the north goal, were first to threaten danger when a Hay cross sailed into goal.  Frew got his hands to it and while he didn’t hold it, he came on to recover possession and clear.  Norwood next worked his way to the left, crossed the ball to the right where Hay hit it first time.  It beat Frew but Milligan was on the line at the far post to kick clear.  A weak clearance by Clearie at the other end brought unnecessary danger and McEwan made poor use of a grand chance by shooting wildly past.  There was a period of sustained pressure by Rovers hereabouts and a half-hit drooping shot by Higgins saw Ballantyne do well to touch it over for a fruitless corner.
     Surviving this, Victoria set off and Frew’s charge next became the scene of some hectic scrambles in which the keeper was prominent, particularly in saving one hard shot at the foot of the post.
  With almost half an hour gone, came the first goal.  Norwood came out of a tackle by Milligan with the ball in his possession, a sudden swerve took him clear of opposition and his left foot shot sped hard and true to the corner of the net.  A few minutes later the centre-forward was taken off with an arm injury and was off for the remainder of the half.  A lob into the home goal saw Ballantyne just get there before McKenzie.  Then came another chance to Victoria when the referee allowed Hay to travel on despite claims for offside but the winger finished by shooting weakly at Frew who had no difficulty in saving.
     A nice, combined move by the Winton forwards put McKenzie within striking distance but with a clear road for a shot but he elected to carry it further in and a good opening was lost.
  A corner was conceded followed by another and there were some lively goalmouth scenes in which Ballantyne always came out on top.  The siege ended when Bryceland from good position banged the ball wildly past.  When the game resumed, Norwood went to outside-left but as play proceeded it became clear that the limp arm was a big handicap, depriving him of proper balance and quite naturally he could take no chances.  It was nearly level-pegging a few minutes after the restart when McKenzie beat Ballantyne in the rush for the ball.  The centre, however, instead of touching it past the keeper, lobbed it over the bar when it seemed easier to score.
     Wark almost showed them the way when he connected with a Hay cross to hit the ball first time towards the corner of the net but Frew threw himself across the goal to bring off a grand save at the foot of the post.
  The inside man had another run on his own, finishing with a rising shot that narrowly missed the mark.  In an Ardrossan attack, a hard shot was fired in which Ballantyne did well to fist clear.  Back came Vics and a flick from Hay to Barr saw the latter, in grand position, shoot wildly past.  With only one goal still separating them, Rovers turned the heat at this stage in an effort to save the game and only sterling work by Ballantyne kept them at bay.  The keeper smartly saved a snapshot on the turn by Kearney and later did the same with a shot from Scollan after slackness in the home defence had given the Ardrossan player scope to go on and shoot.
     With only two minutes to go, came the decider.
  Winton claimed offside against Matthews when the ball was slipped to the latter, but the referee paid no heed and he went on to touch the ball past the outrushing Frew into the net.  In point of play the result was just right.  Rovers certainly had their moments and only the ability of keeper Ballantyne at these periods saved Victoria’s goal from downfall but on the general run of play the home lot had the edge.  The first half was the better of the two as play swung from one goal to the other though even then Vics had a slight advantage territorially.  It was keen cut-and-thrust stuff that kept the crowd on their toes with anything liable to happen at either end.
     Some of the fire went out of play in the second half but there were spurts by both sides that frequently threatened danger.
  In this half also, Victoria had the advantage despite the fact that Matthews and Norwood had exchanged places.  The former worked hard but he hadn’t the guile of his colleague to turn some of the opportunities to greater profit.  Frew in the Ardrossan goal played a grand game, with good backing from Milligan.  The Victoria defence was also sound even if they had some slack moments when they took things too easily and might have paid a penalty, though Hollywood was exempt in this connection.
            Irvine Herald, 22 May 1953


IRVINE VICTORIA 1 – WINTON ROVERS 1
Third Game Needed For Ayrshire Cup
Victoria And Winton Rovers All Square In Final Replay

After two attempts there is still no decision as to the destination of the Ayrshire Cup.
  Irvine Victoria and Winton Rovers met for the replayed final at Stevenston last Friday night (22 May 1953) and again the result was a draw so that a third game, this time with extra time, will be necessary.  Although the weather was threatening, it remained dry for most of the game and there was again a big crowd present, not perhaps so big as in the first game but still most satisfactory for a weeknight.  Victoria brought McNeil in at centre-forward in place of the injured Norwood but the move was not a success and the wonder was they didn ‘t make a switch earlier than they did.  Rovers had Higgins at inside-left and Scollan at left-half, with McEwan at outside-right and Reid at centre - nor were the Ardrossan forward moves any more profitable than the Irvine ones.  The respective defences were once again well on top although Victoria had once more a territorial advantage which they failed to turn to profit in the matter of goals.

     
The teams were
 
Irvine Victoria – Ballantyne; Fowler and Clearie; Shedden, Hollywood and Duffin; Hay, Barr, McNeil, Wark and Matthews;
Winton Rovers - Frew; Black and Gemmell; Thomson, Milligan and Scollan ; McEwan, Bryceland, Reid, Higgins and Kearney.
  The referee was C McMurdo, Rutherglen.
     Rovers looked as if they meant early business and they forced a corner right away although it was cleared.
  Not long after this, however, there was a spell of Victoria pressure but there was nothing really dangerous about their threat until the ball came on one occasion to McNeil whose shot lacked the necessary pith and Frew was not troubled in saving.  A cross from Matthews was too low and Frew got there before McNeil could connect.  It was practically all Victoria at this stage and a cross from McNeil, after he had worked out to the right, saw Matthews head the ball across the goal with Frew away from home but there was no one up to take advantage and Milligan got it away.  Then came a near thing at the other end.  Away along the wing sped McEwan to cut in and deliver a shot from an acute angle which Ballantyne turned round for a corner kick from which the ball was headed past by Higgins.  McNeil next sent Hay off with a cute slip and the winger got in a raking shot which Frew saved but failed to hold but again there was no one up to get the rebound.
     In twenty-five minutes, Vics took the lead.
  Hay, from the corner flag, sent the ball high over to the far side of the goal and Matthews rose to it to head into the far corner of the net - a grand goal.  From the kick-off, Higgins tore through but just when he was getting into a dangerous position, he hit the ball blindly against an opponent and a possible opening was lost.  There followed another period of Victoria pressure in which several of the forwards just failed to get proper control for a shot although Hay ‘s final effort was just slightly wide of the mark.  The Irvine defence got panicky in Winton's next raid and when Hollywood was beaten on the run by Reid the Irvine keeper just beat the centre to it and kicking away from his feet.  It didn't travel far, however, and there ensued some exciting passages in the Victoria goal area where the ball was blocked several times before it was finally got clear.
     In half an hour, Rovers drew level, clever work between Kearney and Reid ending with the latter beating Ballantyne from close range as the keeper came out to try and intercept.
  Just before the interval, Barr got a chance when Black lost possession but he failed to get his kick on with any pith behind it.  Apart from a Hay shot which Frew dropped and recovered, there was not a great deal to enthuse over for a time after the resumption, much of the play being in outfield and the pace having slackened considerably.  McNeil gave the Ardrossan side one fright when he got his head to a ball from a free kick by Clearie and it went past by inches with Frew slow in making for it.  Thomson tried to set his mates an example in goal-getting with a grand shot which Ballantyne capably disposed of.  There was no force behind McNeil ‘s next try but when Matthews returned the ball to him later, he neatly headed it on to Barr who, with all the time in the world, shot weakly past.
     Both teams switched their front ranks hereabouts. For Irvine, McNeil changed with Wark and Barr changed with Matthews, while in the Ardrossan side Kearney came to inside with Higgins going to the wing.
  Towards the close, Victoria again began to exert pressure and a high one from Matthews produced a corner kick from which Duffin got possession and his fast-rising shot was just inches high.  Then with time drawing near, came a move that looked ominous for the Irvine team.  Higgins got off on the wing, beat his man and cut in.  A score seemed an odds-on probability but Ballantyne came out and blocked the shot.
     As in the first game, Victoria had the edge on their opponents but could not turn it to proper advantage in the matter of goals.
  The nippy Norwood was undoubtedly missed and McNeil was never happy in the centre position.  His feeding of the wings when in possession was good but there his usefulness stopped.  He needed more room to work in than was allowed by the keen-tackling Milligan and this was evident when he went to inside for a short spell near the finish.  The Irvine defence was as tight as ever with the halves always prominent, Duffin's constructive work marking him out for special attention.  Again, the weakness was forward and unless something can be done about this defect it is likely to cost them dear in their search after silver - and it was the same with Rovers although they looked to have a weakness at right-back which Victoria didn't exploit as they might.  Milligan was once more their most stalwart defender although the evergreen Jackie Thomson ran him a close second.  Their forwards, although held on a tight rein, were seldom impressive and it was a further proof that they are sorely missing the scheming of Donnelly.
            Irvine Herald, 29 May 1953

IRVINE VICTORIA 3 - WINTON ROVERS 1
Ayrshire Cup For Irvine Victoria
Winton Rovers Beaten In Second Replay

For the first time in their history Irvine Victoria have won the Ayrshire Cup.  They did so with a 3-1 win over Winton Rovers when they met in the third game in the final at Stevenston last Friday night (29 May 1953). The two previous games had each ended in a 1-1 draw but Victoria made no mistake in the second replay in which they had a well-merited 3-1 win over the Ardrossan club who were striving to win the trophy for the third year in succession.  The crowd was smaller than on the previous two occasions yet an attendance of something like four thousand was quite satisfactory for a weeknight.  Vics rearranged their front rank with Matthews leading, McNeil at inside right  and Barr at outside left.  The turning point in the game arrived when Clearie scored a great goal from a free kick to put his team ahead for the second time after a Kearney penalty had neutralised an earlier Matthews goal.  The Irvine club had had an outfield advantage without, however, being too convincing at goal but after that, Clearie goal they gained a new zest and Barr sealed the issue with another glorious goal.
     
The teams were
Irvine Victoria - Ballantyne; Fowler and Clearie; Shedden, Hollywood and Duffin; Hay, McNeil, Matthews, Wark and Barr;
Winton Rovers - Frew; Black and Gemmell; Thomson, Milligan and Scollan; Bryceland, McEwan, Reid, Kearney and Higgins.  The referee was C McMurdo, Rutherglen.
     Rovers were first to make progress and some clever play by their right-wing pair saw McEwan cut in for a shot which Ballantyne palmed down over the line, fortunately outside his goal, for a corner kick from which he again palmed the ball out.
 It came to Higgins but he made a mess of a good opening by shooting wildly over the bar.  At the other end, a Black miss gave Barr a chance to get the ball across but instead he footered until he lost it and back came Rovers to the attack only to be brought to a halt with an offside decision.  Another run on the Ardrossan right found Bryceland send over a high cross which Ballantyne fisted out but the return lacked pith and he was able to clear without trouble.  Victoria's first really dangerous effort came when Hay cut in past Gemmell and let go a left-foot drive which was just wide of the mark.  The right winger later got over a high cross which Frew saved, but failed to hold, although he recovered smartly.
     Then with eighteen minutes gone, Victoria took the lead.
 Barr got possession, worked forward and let rip a fast rising shot which smacked against the face of the crossbar.  Matthews got the rebound and shot from close range and, while Frew got his hands to it, he failed to prevent it going over the line.  In a retaliatory raid, Rovers forced a corner from which Ballantyne missed the cross and Clearie headed past for relief.  The attack ended when Bryceland sent the ball over the top.  At this stage, the Irvine forwards, while they had plenty of the play, were overdoing the tip-tapping stuff, especially on the left and as a result their ploy lost much of its effectiveness.
     In thirty-three minutes, McEwan, close in on goal, was tackled from behind and the referee awarded a penalty kick from which Kearney made no mistake.
 It seemed a rather harsh penalty for such an offence but no doubt the referee considered himself technically correct.  A free kick for Victoria just outside the Ardrossan penalty area spelled danger but Clearie sent the ball high over.  A Hay shot found Frew on the spot to save but a few minutes later the winger got a glorious chance or rather he created one for himself.  An accurate pass to the right saw him cut past the back on the inside only to send narrowly over the bar when it looked as if he could have picked his spot.
     The game reopened on a somewhat dull and unenterprising note until gradually Rovers began to force matters slightly and Higgins shot the ball high over when well placed.
 At the other end a nice cross from McNeil to the far side of the goal was nodded back into goal again by Barr but, with Frew having rushed out to try and intercept, there was no one up to take advantage.  A sudden Winton move caught the Irvine defence wide open but, with his mates waiting on the pass, Kearney elected to shoot from long range and so spoiled what looked like a dangerous move.  From that point, Victoria began to infuse more thrust into their play and three corners in succession gave an indication of their eagerness.  A flick from Barr to Matthews saw the latter return it to the winger but Barr was slow in going for it and a chance was lost.  The centre-forward came near himself next time when he got his head to a Hay corner and the ball went over by a narrow margin.
     In a quick run to the other end, Reid was going through when it looked as if Hollywood impeded him in a way not strictly according to the book.
 The referee, however, ignored the Ardrossan claims.  Ballantyne was carrying the ball out after saving when it seemed as if Bryceland ‘s elbow got him on the face and the keeper had to receive attention.  With about twenty-five minutes gone, Vics were granted a free-kick on the Ardrossan eighteen yard line.  Clearie was entrusted with the kick and, although the Rovers' players lined up, he found an opening to shoot the ball hard, low and true into the net, Frew having not an earthly.
     Rovers altered their forward formation hereabouts with McEwan going into centre but it had no appreciable effect and it was Victoria who again showed them the way.
 Barr got possession, looked as if he had lost it, recovered, beat his man and sent a great left-foot drive flying past Frew into the far corner of the net.  It was all over now, Rovers having little fight left in them and the only incident of note in the remaining stages was a great drive by McNeil which Frew cleverly touched over the bar.  There was no doubting the merits of Victoria ‘s win on this occasion.  Apart from a short spell after the resumption, the Ardrossan side was rarely in the picture in the second half and the cup went to the better side at the finish.  Although they indulged in too much close passing stuff in the first half, this front rank had more mobility than hitherto and this became more evident the longer the game went.  As in previous games, the Irvine defence was fairly sure and Ballantyne was well protected, while the halves kept plying the forwards with the ball at every opportunity.  That tendency by the forwards to try a quick pass in close formation instead of holding the ball when it would have been more profitable delayed the decision.  Once they opened out, however, they offered greater threat and on the second half play they were clear-cut winners.
            Irvine Herald, 5 June 1953