COLIN Goudie is looking forward to lining up in his third Scottish Cup final for Heriot’s today with the winning feeling from 2009 having been in his thoughts a lot this week.
As the Edinburgh club get ready to take on Glasgow Hawks in the showpiece RBS Cup final at Broadwood Stadium, full-back Goudie fondly looked back on previous finals and the 2013/14 season to date.
The 26-year-old doctor from Dundee is in his seventh season at Goldenacre and has been an influential member of the first XV who won the cup in 2009 and who have been mainstays in the top flight.
He said: “When we played Melrose in the final in 2008 we were all but out of things by half-time as they had scored four converted tries. We came back into things, but we really didn’t feel we had done ourselves justice. In the 2008/09 season we were determined to give ourselves a chance to get back to Murrayfield and it so happened we were playing Melrose again. By the time we took them on in that final the two sides knew each other pretty well and there was a dramatic ending as we edged things 21-19.
“The difference between the feeling at the end of that one was like night and day compared to the feeling 12 months previous. To be able to look your team-mates in the eye and know you have battled hard with each other for a whole season and trained in the dark winter to get to that point makes it all worthwhile.
“I think this season we have had one of the best packs since I came to the club and they really have worked hard to get us on the front foot. That has made it a lot easier for us in the backs and I think we have a good blend in the backline too.
“The buzz around a cup final is always special. I have come to feel at home at Goldenacre over the years and we want to go out there and put in a good performance for the supporters.”
Along the M8 there is similar excitement at Old Anniesland where, for 27-year-old prop Steven Findlay, all the long days he puts in balancing work and rugby commitments have been made worthwhile by this opportunity.
Findlay, 27, works in a Govan shipyard and is regularly out of the house from 6am until 10pm with a long shift followed by rugby training.
He said: “It really doesn’t bother me because whenever I head to training I enjoy getting together with the lads, having a laugh and working hard.
“When I moved to Hawks from Dalziel three seasons ago I was wanting to play at a higher level and test myself. The first season was not the best team-wise, but I learned a hell of a lot and last year, after a summer of lots of comings and goings, a new-look team was put together and from then things have moved on quickly.
“We managed to gain promotion last year and this year cement our place in the top flight and get to this big occasion.
“I think the thing that has helped us get to where we are is teamwork. We are all pals on and off the pitch and we simply never know when we are beaten, as we showed in the comeback win against Gala in the semis.”
As well as the Hawks supporters cheering him on today, a busload from Findlay’s old club are heading to Cumbernauld – he had to purchase more tickets yesterday to satisfy demand.
In terms of team selection both sides are along expected lines although the ball of energy that is Chris Mulligan can feel slightly hard done by being left on the Heriot’s bench.
Edinburgh Rugby EDP George Turner, normally a hooker, is such a hard-running and physical player that Phil Smith felt he had to find him a spot and he will bring a different dynamic to the back row.
Prop Stewart Mustard is involved in his fourth final with Goudie, scrum-half Graham Wilson and replacement OJ Brown involved in their third each for Heriot’s. For Hawks the front row of Findlay, Warriors’ Finlay Gillies – who played for Heriot’s in the 2009 final – and Brendan Cullinane will be key while back-row Stephen Leckey is having a fine season.
Behind the pack the centre partnership of Jack Steele and Ally Maclay, playing in his third final, will hope to run midfield while Haddon McPherson has been in fine form since switching from scrum-half to wing.
Scotland under-20 man Gavin Lowe also has a big role to fulfil at stand-off and with the sides having won one apiece this term, it promises to be a cracker.
Glasgow Hawks: D Smart; T Steven, A Maclay, J Steele, H McPherson; G Lowe, P Boyer; S Findlay, F Gillies, B Cullinane, A Linton, A Hamilton, T Holmes, A Kirkland, S Leckey. Subs: J McFarlane, C Williamson, J Lohoar, M Bartoszek, K Beattie, D Milne, N Herron.
Heriot’s: C Goudie; M Nimmo, K Buchan, C Ferguson, H Boisseau; R Carmichael, G Wilson; N Borel, K Bryce, S Mustard, M Douglas, R Nimmo, J Turley, J Hill, G Turner. Subs: C Owenson, G Cameron, C Mulligan, M Maltman, OJ Brown, M Learmonth, L Steele.