Motherwell full-back Steven Hammell will be just 16 games short of 600 appearances for the Lanarkshire club following today’s rematch with Aberdeen.
The 35-year-old made his senior debut against the Dons back in 1999/2000 and, apart from an 18-month sojourn to Southend United a decade ago, he has been part of the fixtures and fittings at Fir Park ever since.
Unfortunately, he has nothing to show for his loyal service to the Steelmen other than a runners-up medal from the League Cup in 2005 and another from the Scottish Cup six years later.
Hammell has appeared only once for Scotland (against Sweden at Easter Road in 2004), although he was part of three squads as recently as 2013. However, he would trade that international recognition for a winners’ medal with ‘Well, who will face Rangers in the Betfred Cup semi-final on 22 October.
“I’d swap anything for that, even my Scotland cap – and I was as proud as anyone to represent my country,” he said. “That’s how much it would mean to me and it’s also how strongly I feel about this football club. Reaching the final would be a great achievement but we want to win it. At the start of the season one of the things we spoke about among ourselves was that we had to have a good cup run and we’re doing that now.”
On Thursday evening Motherwell hammered Aberdeen 3-0 to reach the last four, not only outfighting their more fancied opponents but confusing them as well. Their passing style worked well enough but Steven Robinson’s side were equally happy to throw a few long balls into the mix, particularly as the visitors began to chase the game.
For those who like a flutter, Motherwell had been available at 9/2 earlier in the week but, after nine wins and a draw from their opening dozen games, those generous odds will not be available today.
“We created quite a few chances apart from our goals while we limited them to a few shots from far out,” said Hammell. “I thought we controlled the game for long spells and we kept their dangerous players at bay. The manager has assembled a good squad, with competition for places all over the pitch and our opponents are always well studied before we play them.”
Even so, Hammell is well aware that past results are no guide to future performances and he and his team-mates are prepared to put in another Stakhanovite shift at lunchtime to gain the victory which would move them to within a point of Derek McInnes’s men.
“We’ll need to be at our best again because they’ll be like a wounded animal,” he said. “They’ll have been hurting since Thursday night and they’ll be determined to come back down here and put that right.
“But our intention is to make Fir Park the kind of place that other teams dread coming to and results like Thursday’s will help in that regard.
“We’re progressing well in the league as well as the cup but we’re taking nothing for granted.”