Top-scorer John Sutton hopes to lead by example in tomorrow’s Scottish Cup Semi Final at Hampden.
Much has been made of the youthful nature of Motherwell’s squad. In the likes of Tom Hateley, Shaun Hutchison and Jamie Murphy, the Steelmen have young players in pivotal roles, but in John Sutton they have also have an experienced campaigner – one with the taste for the big occasion.
Sutton has played in a cup final with St Mirren and has impressed against Odense for ‘Well – which was, until this Saturday, the club’s biggest game in many years – but now he wants to defeat St Johnstone and earn a place in what, he admits, would be the biggest game of his life.
“I’ve been lucky enough to play in a few big games over the course of my career so far,” recalled the 27-year old, who has been in super form in recent weeks. “The match against Odense which could have seen Motherwell qualify for the Europa League group phase was huge and playing in the [Challenge] Cup final with St Mirren was very special to me.
“But this match will be well up there; if not the biggest. I just hope this match leads on to an even bigger match and even more special occasion: a Scottish Cup final.
“It’s nice to be scoring goals, but the most important thing is that the team is playing well. It doesn’t matter whether I’m scoring, assisting or just working hard and helping the team out. The only thing that matters is results and thankfully the results have been good.
“As well as reaching this semi-final we have reached the top-six, which was our benchmark at the beginning of the season.
“This match, along with our league achievements, gives us a great opportunity to do something very special this campaign.
The anticipation and fervour of Scottish Cup semi-final week is a long way from the difficult run of form and tumultuous off-the-field matters which defined a difficult festive period for the club.
Many felt the Motherwell were a sinking ship, but they have bounced back and, despite only being in charge for a little over four months, Stuart McCall has managed to impose his own style and beliefs on the squad and guide them to top-six football and a Scottish Cup semi-final.
And Sutton never doubted that ‘Well would bounce back: “We have always done better when people have written us off.
“A few managers have come and gone and everyone seems to say ‘Oh, this is Motherwell on the way out,’ yet we always prove the doubters wrong.
“The manager came into a very difficult situation. At the start of the season we were fairly clear in third place in the SPL and then we dropped like a stone. I think we’ve done well to turn that round and stay in the top-six, but in many ways I think the season could be defined on Saturday.
“Hopefully we can keep proving people wrong and have a good ending to the season. If we can squeeze past St. Johnstone I think, after everything that has happened, we’ll look back on a very successful year.
“You see Kirky (Stevie Kirk) and other lads from that ’91 team around the club most days – maybe that can be us.”