THIS season’s Scottish Cup final will mark ten years since a fresh-faced defender named David McCracken enjoyed his one and only taste of the domestic calendar’s showpiece match.
He was part of the 16-man Dundee United squad for the 2005 final against Celtic, which ultimately succumbed to a narrow 1-0 defeat thanks to an early Alan Thompson strike.
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McCracken, 23 at the time, immersed himself in the build-up, the atmosphere and the surroundings. However, he was denied the chance to strut his stuff on the day, with manager Gordon Chisholm selecting a defensive unit of Mark Wilson, Garry Kenneth, Alan Archibald and Paul Ritchie.
A decade later, and having secured safe passage to the last eight with a 2-1 win over Brechin, it is far from inconceivable that the veteran centre-half will get the opportunity to make amends this term, such is the openness of today’s quarter-final draw.
“Going into the game we knew if we got by this round there’s a good chance to progress – a real chance to get into a semi-final or a final. That’s still the case,” said the 33-year-old. “If we can get a cup run with Falkirk that will be massive, for the boys and the club.
“It’s a great thing to get to a final, I’ve had it before when I was at Dundee United.
“It’s a terrific experience and it would be amazing to get back there, especially for the younger boys here.
“I was on the bench against Celtic and it was a great event to be involved in. Hopefully, we can have something like that for the boys here to experience.”
He added: “What I remember about it most? We lost. Those games are wonderful occasions, but when you get so far you want to come home with the trophy.”
It was McCracken who opened the scoring after just 11 minutes with a wonderfully worked set-piece. Blair Alston delivered a deep corner-kick to the edge of the box for Luke Leahy. Leahy headed the ball back into the penalty area with interest and McCracken nodded home from six yards.
Parity was restored after 55 minutes, with Alan Trouten stroking the ball past Jamie MacDonald from the penalty spot after Gerry McLaughlan had been felled by Peter Grant.
However, Falkirk secured their hard-fought triumph thanks to a close-range finish by David Smith after Brechin goalkeeper Graeme Smith could only parry a Rory Loy drive.
“We applied ourselves well and created chances. I thought we restricted them to long ball for a lot of the game,” rued Brechin winger Bobby Barr.
“I’m disappointed we didn’t at least take them to a replay.”