Whether in victory or defeat, Ryan Christie’s recollections of his previous cup final appearances are all a bit of a blur.
The in-form Celtic attacking midfielder will go into tomorrow’s League Cup showpiece at Hampden determined to savour every moment of the kind of occasion which is something of a commonplace event for the Scottish champions.
In contrast, the experience was both a novelty and a shock to the system at his previous club, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, for whom Christie played in the League Cup final defeat by Aberdeen at Celtic Park in March 2014 before being part of their Scottish Cup-winning side against Falkirk at Hampden the following year.
“John Hughes was the manager at the time and when he read the squad out for that League Cup final, I thought I was just going along as a hamper boy for the experience,” says Christie.
“Then he said I was going to be on the bench and I was sh*****g myself at the thought of that alone! It was a bit of a dead game, 0-0, and when he sent me to warm-up during extra-time I just completely started panicking.
“He sent me on and of course it went to penalties. I didn’t take one – I think I was behind our keeper in the queue, I was so nervous. I’d just turned 19 and while a lot of the boys were gutted after we lost the shoot-out, I was still in awe of the occasion and didn’t really understand the full extent of the disappointment.
“But that made it so nice to then go on and win the Scottish Cup the following season. That bus journey home after we won the trophy at Hampden was the strangest I’ve ever experienced in my life. Put it this way, I can’t remember much about the Sunday and Monday afterwards.
“We stopped at Auchterarder and there’s a video somewhere of us chanting on the streets. We usually stopped there for fish suppers on the way back from away games, but there was no fish and chips that night!
“We piled into a pub and took it over. I don’t have a clue how long it took us to get back to Inverness, it was all a blur.
“There was a feeling among the Inverness players that it was a one-time shot at winning the cup, so maybe there was added pressure on us to win that day. At Celtic, it’s obviously different. The club expects to win trophies regularly and as players we want to win as many as we can.
“So we don’t want to pass up any chance to win a trophy that comes along. There is always pressure at Celtic and that’s something we have to live up to.”