HADDINGTON Athletic and Tranent Juniors will be involved in the Scottish Cup for the first time next season.

History will be made when East Lothian is represented by four sides in Scottish football’s premier cup competition.

Preston Athletic have flown the flag for the county for a number of years and will be joined by Musselburgh Athletic, who secured their spot with a 7-0 demolition of Mid Annandale in the South and East Shield.

Now, Haddington and Tranent will join their East of Scotland rivals after both sides were awarded their Scottish Football Association (SFA) membership.

Drew Donaldson, chairman of the Hi Hi, was delighted at the historic moment, which also opens the door to promotion to Scottish football’s fifth tier – the Scottish Lowland Football League – and above.

He told Courier Sport: “It means quite a lot – I’m trying to put it into words.

“One of the key things is the fact we can play in the Scottish Cup but in general the entry level focuses clubs on improving their facilities.

“For years, money has gone to players, and players come and go.”

To achieve the SFA membership, clubs had to fulfil certain criteria at their ground, including the installation of floodlights.

East Lothian Council helped both Haddington and Tranent to cover the cost, with clubs also having to achieve other criteria to show they were being properly run.

Donaldson noted the success of fellow former Junior sides, including Penicuik Athletic, who defeated Stenhousemuir in last season’s Scottish Cup and went on to face Partick Thistle, as well as Broxburn Athletic, who played Scottish Premiership side St Mirren in the fourth round of the competition.

There were similar feelings a few miles along the A1 at Tranent.

David Innes, chairman of the East of Scotland Football League Premier Division club, was thrilled and looking forward to the new season getting under way.

He told Courier Sport: “It is fantastic news.

“It has been our goal since I started five years ago and all the committee have strived to get the licence, and we have done it now.

“We can now look forward to hopefully Scottish Cup games.

“If you get to the fourth round, you can live the dream and could be playing a Hibs or a Celtic.”

Innes, born and bred in the town, previously played for the Foresters Park side.

He stressed that the only direction the club was looking now was forward as they continued to push for improvements.

Speaking last Friday morning, he added: “You cannot imagine the hours that we have put in to get the club to where we are.

“The place was a real mess but it has been transformed.

“I was down there last night and you could play a final on the park just now; the pitch is looking fantastic.

“It has been five years of hard work but it has all be worth it.”

Councillor Kenny McLeod, who played for the Belters before going on to feature for Hearts, now represents the town on East Lothian Council.

He was delighted for the club and said: “It is massive.

“It just shows how much they have progressed in the last few years.

“When I played for Tranent, now it is like night and day.

“The standard of the park and the facilities they have got are tremendous and they are improving all the time.

“The guys at the helm are doing great work.”