There was a time when Richard Tait might have dreamed of running out at Murrayfield, instead he will add a semi-final appearance at Hampden to his cache of Wembley memories.
Growing up in the Borders, the Motherwell defender spent his formative years playing rugby as well as football before the 1998 World Cup pushed him towards his current career and while there have been ups and downs it is not a decision he regrets. Games at Wembley and encounters like this afternoon’s Betfred Cup semi final are a key reason why.
“When I was at Cambridge we got to the play-off final [at Wembley] but I wasn’t in the squad. When I went to Grimsby I played in the final for them. They were great experiences.
“It was a massive stadium and a massive occasion and there’s a lot riding on the game. Times like that and winning games like that hold you in good stead for games like this. There’ll be a bigger crowd on Sunday I’d imagine and probably a better atmosphere too.
Any player will tell you they want to play in front of big crowds and in big atmospheres. It spurs you on to do your best.
“It’s what you play for all year. I played two FA Trophy finals there, won one and lost one. There were 49,000 at the game we lost against Halifax.”
Motherwell have earned their right to contest today’s semi final, deserving their place in the higher echelons of the league and displaying determination to compete on a consistent basis.
“When you stop and think about it, it is a massive game – massive for the club, massive for the boys and massive for the fans. I think it is more about relishing playing in it and just being excited about the occasion.”
It will be the second time he and his colleagues have run out at the national stadium this season having been grouped with Queen’s Park at the outset of the competition. But the atmosphere and the opposition will be more notable this afternoon.
“We played against Queen’s Park and there was a big crowd there!” he said tongue in cheek. “Joking aside, it probably did us a favour playing there, getting to know the feel of it, getting to know what it’s like to be on the pitch. It was a good experience.”
For a player who admits he was only sold on a move to Motherwell when he met the people at the club and was impressed by their passion and their belief, he says that confidence in the people around him has only increased with every passing week.
The gaffer has stressed how important a stepping stone the club, and Scottish football as a whole, could be and like Tait, there is a dressing room full of hungry players.
“I have never been one for dwelling on things that have happened in the past. Personally I played in the lower leagues and I definitely have a point to prove. I’m enjoying myself here and I think I’m doing a half decent job. As long as I can keep that going I’ll be happy.
“I was playing darts with Trev [Carson] during the week and he was saying: ‘I can’t wait til Sunday’. I think we are all like that. There is a feeling around the club that we can’t wait to get going.
“The belief is massive in the team from the boys who start up to the boys on the bench. After the game, the first people to congratulate you are the boys who were on the bench. I think it is a collective way of thinking that exists within the squad.”