The final whistle goes, the 16,000 Motherwell fans roars in unison; the Cup is won. Stephen Craigan climbs the famous steps at Hampden, receives his medal and lifts the trophy above his head as the national stadium erupts. Motherwell have new heroes.
It is a scenario which will have played out in the minds of every Motherwell fan ahead of the Saturday showpiece; a dream conclusion to the Cup fever which is currently spreading through North Lanarkshire.
But the man who will lead the Steelmen out against Celtic insists that he hasn’t allowed himself to think that far ahead, describing that as ‘dangerous.’ Instead he will focus on the 90 minutes [maybe more] and trying to upset the overwhelming favourites from Glasgow’s East End.
“I’ve been asked that question a couple of times, and no, I haven’t thought that far away,” the Motherwell captain insisted. “You have to just focus on the match and focus on your opponents.
“There is a lot of things going on that the boys won’t be used to, like the increased media coverage. We’re also maybe not as used to playing in front of big crowds as Celtic are. So, I’ll not be thinking that far ahead. If it happens then it will be special – but until then I’ll be concentrating on the 90 minutes to play.
“We know what it would mean to the club to win the trophy, but you can’t think about glory – because the moment you do the glory will get snatched away.”
The stalwart knows all about having Hampden glory snatched away from him.
Craigan is one of the few players left at Motherwell from the last major Cup final which the club participated in; the 2005 Co-operative Insurance Cup. A match which was something of a let-down for Motherwell, as Rangers romped ahead early on, with the first goal coming from current ‘Well star Maurice Ross.
The Northern Irishman knows how vital it is, this time, to perform well in the match, contain their illustrious opponents – and not get caught up in the prestige of the occasion.
“I was there for the [League] Cup final back in 2005, and it was over as soon as it started. We all enjoyed the day, waved to our families and enjoyed the experience, but the game was over far too soon.
“This time we have to defend better and play very well. It is also vital not to concede an early goal. That can happen in every match, but it is particularly dangerous against either side of the Old Firm.
In the transient nature of football it is fitting that Motherwell legend Craigan may have the opportunity to lift the oldest national trophy in World football. Having been at the club since 1994, the skipper knows better than most what it would mean to win the Cup.
But, modestly, Craigan insists that it would be special for every player, and a wonderful way to end what has been a tumultuous, varied season at Fir Park. And, should any of the squad leave over the Summer there is the hope that they will leave as Steelmen legends.
“The end of the season can be sad sometimes; players you’ve played with, fought with and argued with and it has to come to a conclusion,” Craigan mused. “Some players will be here and some others might not be. It could be the last time we all play together as a squad.
“We all want to do well for each other, and it’s great that we can spend the next few days together, knowing that there is a Cup final at the end of it.”