Saturday will see Fifer Finn Graham potentially play in the biggest match of his life, if selected against his boyhood heroes at Parkhead.
The Brechin City midfielder, 21, has played 26 times for Darren Dods’ men this season, but admits that this match is the biggest in his career to date.
“It is a David vs Goliath situation: they are the best team in Scotland. It is going to be a massive experience and I just can’t wait for it to happen, now. We have played against a lot of full-time sides this year in the Championship, so, we know that while their fitness levels may be slightly better than ours, we know how to deal with it and where our strengths lie. As I have said, though, they are the best team in the country and it is going to be a big test for us.
I feel we have underachieved this term; we have lost a lot of games and dropped silly points. We should have taken at least a few three points from matches, but we haven’t and that has been the story of our season so far. We have got nothing to lose on Saturday – we are expected to get beat. If we go in without fear then we can’t have too many worries.”
Former Dunfermline midfielder Graham feels the key to any kind of result is being solid defensively throughout the 90 minutes.
“It is up to Celtic how they approach this match, but, if they go at it the right way, then, they shouldn’t get beat: they have proven that when they are on their game, they are very difficult to defeat. However, if they underestimate us, there is always a chance of us causing an upset and that is what we are hoping to do. We have been defending a lot better lately; we are dealing with crosses more and have looked a little bit more solid in recent weeks. If we can keep them at bay, the fans might get on their back and that may then put them under some pressure. I would say we have given every team we have faced a good game – there has been a few matches where we have taken a bit of a beating, but, in the main, it is usually just one goal that is the difference. Individual errors and mistakes are being punished and denying us a point or a win. If everybody is on our game on Saturday then we will give ourselves the best possible chance; if it isn’t enough, it isn’t enough.”
From a personal perspective, it is a dream come true for the boyhood Celt to be involved in a match against Brendan Rodgers’ side, particularly at Parkhead.
“My full family are Celtic supporters and it has been a dream of mine to play at Celtic Park one day. For this to potentially happen on Saturday, I cannot wait. I am so excited for it to finally happen. It will be a great day personally for myself as well as my family, regardless of the result. I have played in big matches before, such as playing against Rangers for Dunfermline and I enjoyed it as you are playing the villain almost, but, I don’t worry about the fans as they are there to intimidate you, but, I will just keep my head down, work as hard as I can and try to help Brechin win the game.
These are the games you want to play in as you can challenge yourself and see where you are as a player. I may be able to come up against Scott Brown – arguably the best midfielder in Scotland; a full internationalist. You want to set the bar high: if you can compete against guys like him and keep him at bay, then it shows you are doing something right. This game will allow me to judge myself to see where I am, how far I am away and what I need to do to get to that next level.”
Graham sees this match as a ‘free-game’ for the Angus club, who are expected to take over 1,000 supporters to Glasgow this weekend.
“We have done well to get into the Championship; we have done well to get to this stage of the competition and get this draw…all we can do is play our natural game and try show everybody what we can do. We are all looking forward to the game; we will all enjoy it. It is a massive occasion for us all.
For Brechin to take that number to any game is fantastic, never mind to a match versus Celtic. It is a big occasion for the fans too as they haven’t faced Celtic too many times before, previously. I hope we all take advantage of this day and come away from it with the right result. [Celtic have played Brechin at Parkhead twice before] so, hopefully it is third time lucky. This wouldn’t just be the shock of the round, it’d be shock of the tournament, in my opinion.”