Arriving at the pub slightly before opening time at 10.50AM, there was already a throng of at least 100 of our fans congregated outside in full voice. In the distance a bus came into view and edged its way towards us. As it drew closer the sign became more visible. Ross County FC, it said. The team bus on its way to the ground. Chants of “County, County, County,” greeted the bus as it made its way past us.
When the kick off came, County looked the better team and never let Celtic settle on the ball. Then, not long into the second half, came a truly special moment.
The ball broke to Steven Craig just past the half way line. He flicked it past the stranded defender then controlled the bouncing ball somewhere around his waist. I was expecting the ref to blow for handball, but no whistle came.
Suddenly, Craig was one on one with the keeper. Even at this stage, I was expecting the worst, but Craig kept his composure and rifled the ball into the back of the net.
As the clock wound down, time seemed to go slower and slower. Then in the 87th minute, the ball broke to our striker Andy Barrowman. He was forced out wide and played a wicked ball into the middle.
The ball seemed to hang in the air for an eternity. As it came across I expected either the defender or keeper to deal with it. Time seemed to stand still as the ball eluded both of them. Then racing in at the back post was County’s Jimmy Scott.
All he needed to do was make contact with the ball and it was 2-0.
I can’t remember much after that apart from jumping around and hugging people I had previously never met in my life before! A team from the Highlands was about to reach the Scottish Cup final for the first time.
My local team!
Words could not sum up what I was feeling. Proud and elated didn’t come close to summing up the emotion that was threatening to overcome me. Sixteen years after we were playing in the Highland League, we were now going to the Scottish Cup final.
What a day!