SENIOR football may have eluded him until he arrived at Falkirk in the summer, but, today, Peter Grant is hoping he will be in the thick of Scottish Cup winning celebrations on the Hampden pitch for the second time in his 21 years. Never mind that he has no recollection of previously doing so.
The defender was a babe in his mother Lorraine’s arms when, in 1995, a man-of-the-match performance from his namesake father, who had been in crutches only days earlier, allowed Celtic to end six years without a trophy with a 1-0 final win over Airdrie. The opportunity to follow in the footsteps of his old man – now coaching Fulham’s development side – has given this rich footballing heritage an added piquancy of late.
“I had just turned one [at that final in 1995],” he said. “But I remember watching the game back on YouTube videos and you can see how much it meant to that group of players and the fans. If we can get something similar for the Falkirk fans it would be a massive achievement.
“I’m just turned 21 now and I’m in a Scottish Cup final in my first season with Falkirk. I never thought that would be the case.
“It’s a massive achievement for the club and it’s something we are really looking forward to.
“What my dad did in his career was great and if I could emulate what he did I would be very proud. He was at a massive club like Celtic and he was expected to win trophies.
“Anything less was seen as a failure. For a club like Falkirk to have a chance of winning silverware would be amazing. We believe in ourselves and we want to give a good account of ourselves and bring the trophy back to Falkirk Stadium.”
Peter and his 18-year-old brother Raymond, most recently part of the Norwich academy, have a dad always prepared to set them straight on the sacrifices and commitment required to make it in a profession that brought him four Scottish Cup successes and two league winners’ medals in a Celtic career that spanned 15 years.
Grant senior was always high energy on and off the field, but he is attempting to be a calming influence as his eldest child prepares for the biggest moment of their life. “He has been quite relaxed about the build-up,” said the centre-back for the Championship side. “He’s experienced it himself on many occasions. He’s been a winner himself. He’s actually let me get on with the preparation but he’s said he’s always here if I need him.
“But he’s looking forward to the game and it will be great to have all the family at the game. I just hope we can get the right result. He’s said to try and treat it like a normal game, even though it’s a big stage. Play the game, not the occasion, that’s all you can do. He’s said to do my own job, keep it simple and then hope we can get the little bit of luck you need in cup matches.
“It’s good to have someone like that to turn to, but he normally tells me the things I need to improve on, rather than the stuff that I’m good at. That’s just the type of person he is. Sometimes you think “oh, come on dad!” but I wouldn’t have him any other way. He’s been first class with me and my brother.”
Grant senior may not have been blessed with the greatest natural talents, but he was a first-class professional and is a first-class individual. His son has a new-found admiration for his father’s staying power at Celtic on the back of a debut season in senior football – which would have come earlier but for the year of his career the youngster lost to a cruciate ligament injury.
“The amount of pressure that he would have been under at Celtic was massive. At that club you are expected to win the treble every year and win the league by 25 points a year, especially now with Rangers out of the top flight. But I know how hard a career is. You have to make tremendous sacrifices, you have to work hard on and off the pitch. You’ve got to train like every session is your last and my dad was like that. And so were his team-mates. That’s why they won so many medals. But we’ve got a bunch of players here who work hard, look out for each other and are hungry for success.”
The chances of success today may appear slim owing to the current strength of Premiership opponents Inverness Caledonian Thistle, but Peter has a real appetite for more family heirlooms to add to the collection that his dad has stashed at his grandmother’s home.
“He’s got things around the house in England too,” he said. “There are medals and player of the year awards in the living room and on the mantelpiece from his career. So I’ve always had it in my mind that I want that too. To have that in your head, it gives you an inner drive. Even if my dad wasn’t a footballer I would still have a real drive to do the best I can. But to have that in your family gives you a great insight of what could be. I hope it starts this weekend.”