From the minute Celtic got the better of Motherwell in the League Cup final, the season has been building towards this weekend and the Parkhead club’s stab at a historic double treble.
As fate would have it, Motherwell will again offer up the opposition as Brendan Rodgers’ men seek to win the Scottish Cup and write their names into Scottish football folklore.
But, while on the surface the Fir Park side may not seem to have as much resting on the final, full-back Richard Tait insists that everything is relative.
“We’ve got as much to lose as Celtic. Everyone expects them to win but the Scottish Cup is on the line for both of us so the stakes are equal and we’re going to try to make sure we don’t lose this time,” said Tait.
“Stopping Celtic’s double treble is secondary. We just want to win it for us. We don’t care about what they can do. We’re worrying about winning this trophy for this club and these fans and that’s all that matters to us.
“We’re going for our own little treble having won the Scottish Cup twice before [in 1952 and 1991] and the added bonus is that if we do win it then we’ll get a chance in Europe and that is driving the boys on a little bit as well.
“There are so many people coming up to us in the street. We know how big it is and the possibilities if we win. We will be legends so everyone is embracing that challenge.”
Last year it was Aberdeen who were cast in the supporting role, taking on the Glasgow side in both domestic cup finals. Both times they came up short.
Having watched Celtic lift the first domestic trophy of the season at their expense, Tait does not want to countenance a similar outcome on Saturday. He says the fact that they have enjoyed decent showings in this term’s head to heads and have the experience of the November final under the belts offers him hope.
“It would be disappointing to reach two cup finals and not win any of them,” he said.
“You don’t want to get beaten in a cup final and we lost the last one so we’ll be doing our best to make sure we don’t lose this one. We felt very low after the Betfred Cup final defeat but with that coming mid-season you can’t really dwell on it,” added Tait, revealing he has not really looked at the runners-up medal since he stashed it in a drawer in the aftermath.
“The previous games against them gives us belief. Apart from one game at their place we have pushed them hard.”
That one finished 5-1 in Celtic’s favour but there have been two draws and near misses in the other three meetings thus far.
“That changing room believes in themselves no matter who we are up against,” said Tait. “I think most of the boys know what it is about. Maybe we were more nervous [before the League Cup final] and our energy levels went a little bit. But, that won’t be the case on Saturday. We are ready.
“The first time you are there you get caught up in the whole build-up. Maybe in the League Cup final we were looking about and not fully focused. But we showed we were good enough to win the game. The only thing about that is we have been there before. That will hold us in good stead for this one.”
A Motherwell triumph on Saturday would count as a huge upset, with Celtic firm favourites, but with even Tait’s grandparents requesting tickets to come to their first game, there is a sense that anything is possible as the underdogs relish the chance to upset the odds. A bold, brusque and busy team, Fir Park manager Stephen Robinson has seen his side’s in-your-face, physical style of play criticised this term, with Celtic among their detractors. But Tait views that as a positive and insists they will tackle the final in their own way, with no intention of bowing to reputations.
“We have certainly ruffled a few feathers. If you ask Celtic which teams they didn’t want to play, it would possibly be us due to our style of play,” said the defender. “People know what we are about and we are not going to change that for anyone. We are happy with the way we go about our business and the way we can get under the skin of teams.”