The ghost of Christmas past still haunts Carrick stalwart Glenn Taggart who has nothing but bad memories of the last time Rangers reached the Steel Cup final in 2008.
A heartbreaking 2-1 defeat to Ards still rates among his biggest disappointments in football, but he’s determined not to allow history to repeat itself come the big one against the Welders on Christmas morning.
“I’ve been saying to the boys over the last couple of weeks that when you get beat in a final you can just forget about the rest of the day - especially when it’s Christmas,” said the Linn Primary School teacher.
“The 2008 final itself was a non-starter for us, really. I remember James Costello scoring to put us one up and they equalised quite soon after that.
“The rest of the game was fifty-fifty. We lost two centre-halves early in the second-half and we had to re-jig. Without being harsh, they sent on a big guy near the end and in injury-time the ball hit him on the back of the leg, looped up over our goalkeeper and we lost. I was just totally gutted.
“I still think about it every Christmas and probably once or twice a year as well. If you lose a semi-final you think to yourself: ‘we could have done this or we could have done that’, but when you lose a final you know you were defeated and that’s it over and done with. I’ve bad memories and I’m definitely looking to put it right this time around.”
The chance to have another crack at winning the trophy is something the fans’ favourite is relishing.
“The older you get the finals don’t come around as often. In the last couple of years we’ve been knocking on the door (in the league) and over the last five or six games we’ve fallen away. So, to be back in with a chance of actually winning something, rather than it just petering away, means a lot to me.”
While wary of the threat the Welders pose, Taggart reckons Seaview’s artificial pitch is more suited to Carrick’s style of play.
“That surface isn’t really forgiving and I think if we move the ball the way we can, like we did in the second-half of the semi-final against Ards, then not many teams can live with us.”
He added: “Hopefully, I’ll enjoy my Christmas dinner this time around because there is no worse feeling than losing a final and were determined it won’t happen again.”