AYR United face Kilmarnock at Hampden on Saturday in a Scottish Communities League Cup semi-final and, while it will be a new experience for 20-year-old Jonathan Tiffoney, being on the national stadium pitch for a huge game is not.
“I have never played there,” he says, “when I played with Queen’s Park, we never got near Hampden, it was always Lesser Hampden. But I have been there to watch games.”
Given tickets by the club, Tiffoney saw the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen and the UEFA Cup final between Sevilla and Espanyol.
“In fact, I was a flag boy, out in the centre of the pitch for the UEFA Cup final when I was part of the under-19 team.”
It is ten years since Ayr’s only appearance in a major final at Hampden but, now a part-time team battling to stay in the First Division, they are one game from doubling that tally. They have already ousted Hearts, Inverness and St Mirren and Tiffoney insists there is belief they can supply another shock despite the quality of their fierce Ayrshire rivals.
“Gary Harkins is the main man for them,” he says, assessing the merits of Ayr’s local rivals. “I think he really makes them tick and there’s Manuel Pascali as well and you saw his goal against Dundee. Those two are very good but so are a lot of their boys, especially middle to front.
“But, if we defend well and concentration levels are high, we have a good chance. A semi-final against your rivals is one we all really want to win. The excitement is starting to kick in.”
Not quite a UEFA Cup final but the midfielder is hoping it will be another flag day.