Mark Surgenor has been surrounded by League Cup final hype since securing a spot in Saturday’s showpiece occasion.
However, the frustration for the Carrick Rangers ace is that his Ballymena links mean any final thoughts have come from fans of the Sky Blues.
Surgenor was born in Ballymena and has cup final experience from seasons spent at his hometown club.
He currently lives within the Broughshane area and works at a school in Cullybackey.
He is quick to admit the personal motivation provided by having one foot in each camp.
“It makes it even more special for me and makes me even more fired up for it,” he said. “In Ballymena at the minute, I take a lot of stick walking down the street and from the kids at school so it is quite special to me.
“It adds a little bit to it from a personal point of view and it would make it even sweeter if we got the victory.
“That’s taking nothing away from the lads at Ballymena or friends and family but it adds a bit to it for me.
“I’ve made a few threats on the golf course that I’ll look for somebody in the crowd that I’ll go up and celebrate to first.
“What it would be to score in the final against Ballymena!
“You leave your allegiances and your history behind and you really go for it on the day.”
However, Surgenor is loving life at Carrick and driven by his desire to secure the prize for the Rangers fans.
“Getting to the final, you don’t understand how much it means to the people in Carrick,” he said. “You still see the Spirit of ’76 banners everywhere you go in Carrick.
“It really hits home that this is Carrick in a final.
“We’re a senior club, yes, but we’ve been punching above our weight for a lot of years.
“Surviving in the Premiership is our aim and our goal, then to establish ourselves, we’re still there trying to punch above our weight to survive.
“People come out of the woodwork for a final and I would still maintain that Carrick is the third best supported team in Carrick when you take Linfield and Glentoran out of it.
“That’s out of pure success as Linfield and Glentoran have had the success so they’ll bring the fans.
“Now, who knows, with this run to the League Cup final and last year in terms of staying up,
“The last day of last season was one of the craziest days I’ve ever been involved in. It was Roy of the Rovers stuff.
“The youth teams are flourishing, there are young lads running about Carrick with Carrick tops on.
“It’s not Linfield or Glentoran tops you see.
“It really can unearth a lot of young fans who come to follow us and play for our club.
“They might go on to become the next generation of Carrick fans.
“The more success we can bring, the more fans we’ll bring with it.
It’s great for the club and for the fanbase and I think it’s really going to bring Carrick into the light.”
Kick-off will be 5.30 at Seaview.