Celtic captain Scott Brown driven by cup final misery 15 years ago

Despite starting out with Hibs, Scott Brown says he has become 'part of the Celtic family'. Picture: SNS.
Despite starting out with Hibs, Scott Brown says he has become 'part of the Celtic family'. Picture: SNS.
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If defeat does indeed teach you more than victory, then Scott Brown has proved himself to be the keenest of students.

The Celtic captain goes in pursuit of the 20th major winner’s medal of his career at Hampden this afternoon, his hunger for success still fuelled by the despair he felt when he trudged up the steps of the national stadium as a runner-up back in March 2004.

Brown was only 18 when he was a member of the Hibs side which lost 2-0 to Livingston in that League Cup final, the first showpiece occasion of his career.

He has more than made up for the disappointment since, winning the League Cup three years later with Hibs before moving to Celtic where he has racked up nine title wins, five more League Cup successes and four Scottish Cup 
triumphs.

As he looks to lead the trophy holders to yet another Scottish Cup final victory when they face Hearts today, Brown can still keenly recount his emotions from 15 years ago.

“Hibs beat Celtic in the quarter-finals and Rangers in the semi-finals to get to that final in 2004,” he says. “We had about 40,000 fans at Hampden and if felt like Livi had about 450.

“We’d knocked out the big two and people automatically thought we would win but we didn’t take our chances. I remember having a shot saved early on when I should have scored and that would have changed the outcome.

“I remember when we went 2-0 down in the second half, the Hibs supporters started to leave. It felt like a very bad place to be – it was horrible. We got back to Edinburgh after the game and I remember just thinking ‘F*** sake’.

“ I know the feeling of losing in a cup final and it’s not a nice place to be. Luckily for that Hibs team, we bounced back and won the final against Kilmarnock three years later.

“That gave me a wee taste for success. We had the open-top bus down Leith Walk and I remember thinking ‘I want more of this’.

“I was moving to Celtic the next season and that’s why I signed for the club. I wanted to win trophies, as many as possible.

“I keep all of my medals. They all mean a lot to me. The longer your career goes on, the more it’s about memories. They show that I have had success, I’ve won stuff and there’s my Celtic trophy collection.

“But I don’t go about bragging and saying, ‘Look what I’ve won’. It’s just memories for me – of positive, happy times.”

None has been more positive or happier for Brown than the last three seasons in which Celtic have enjoyed an unprecedented level of dominance of Scottish football.

As the 33-year-old midfielder stands on the cusp of securing a third consecutive domestic treble with the club, he insists he will never take success for granted.

“There is no such thing as just another treble,” added Brown.

“What the lads have done over the last two seasons is incredible. To do it again would be phenomenal.

“But it’s not done yet. This is a huge, hard game. Hearts will make it tough for us. They have had some good results against us in the past but we are a top quality side and we believe in ourselves.

“I’ve been in a lucky position at Celtic and I do feel fortunate. I look at Paul McStay, who was back at the club for trophy day last Sunday. He went through some hard times as Celtic captain and that’s what makes him a hero. He stayed and fought. He was a fantastic player and most would have jumped ship at the time. But he didn’t run away. He stayed because he has a love for Celtic.

“I have that love for Celtic too now and I never thought I would have after starting out at Hibs. Back then, I wasn’t a Celtic fan but I became part of the family.

“Growing up, I just thought that one day I would love to be a footballer. It didn’t matter who for. But I signed for 
Celtic and I have enjoyed every moment of it. I have grown up here and I have a close bond with a lot of people I have 
worked for.

“Every treble has meant a lot. The first one, to be unbeaten for the season, was incredible. Nobody then expected us to do it again.

“We now have the chance to make it three out of three and make history. We need to make sure everyone’s mindset is right and that we get 
over the line.”