Eddie Patterson indulges in a light-hearted chuckle at claims that Glentoran have been gifted a “massive advantage” for Saturday’s Irish Cup final.
With ongoing structural damage concerns at Windsor Park – the traditional home of the final – the showpiece has been rerouted to The Oval.
The decision by the Irish FA to use the home of the Glens has sparked plenty of debate in recent weeks, not least from Portadown who claim they have been discriminated against.
“I keep hearing that Glentoran have been handed this ‘massive advantage’ by playing at The Oval. The fact is we haven’t beaten Portadown at our own ground in the league since 2010,” Patterson laughs.
“With a record like that, the last place we would want to be playing this final is at The Oval.
“The stats are certainly not in our favour, and I don’t think playing at The Oval on Saturday will be a massive factor.
“We wanted this game to be played somewhere else. Portadown wanted it somewhere else. But at the end of the day The Oval was picked as the common sense choice.
“People talked about the Ballymena Showgrounds, but that would have cost both clubs a lot of money.
“Ulster Rugby’s Kingspan Stadium was also mentioned.
“Glentoran offered the use of The Oval to save both clubs some money. We only put it forward as an option – Portadown could have rejected it.
“But let’s be clear. I didn’t want The Oval, the players didn’t want it and the board didn’t want it.”
Patterson and Glentoran are preparing for their second final in the space of three years.
They lifted the trophy in 2013 following an extra-time win over then Premiership champions Cliftonville.
Patterson admits there is a different feel to this year’s final, compared to when a more experienced Glens side saw off his former club at Windsor Park.
“I am a little more apprehensive this year,” Patterson admitted.
“The squad is a lot younger this time, and there is far less experience in there.
“When we won the cup two years ago we had a vastly different panel of players. We had the likes of Andy Waterworth, Sean Ward, Stephen Carson, Jason Hill, Colin Nixon – that’s a lot of experience.
“Only Elliott Morris and Stephen McAlorum remain from the side that started that final.
“You look at Portadown’s squad now, and they have double winners in there. They have players who have won multiple trophies and know what it is about.
“They have players with big game experience, and that counts for a lot in fixtures like this.
“The flip side is that my players play with no fear. They go out and showcase what they are capable of.
“The acid test will be if they can do that on a big stage like the Irish Cup final. This is a one-off game with a lot at stake.”
Despite the dream prospect of winning another Irish Cup, Patterson admits only time will tell what his own future is at Glentoran.
Rumours surfaced last weekend that the 46-year-old could be set to leave the club following Saturday’s final – win or lose.
“A few people have mentioned this so-called ‘rumour’ to me,” Patterson joked.
“I have another year on my contract, and ideally I would like to see that through. But this is football, you never know what lies around the corner.
“There are things I am happy with, and there are some things off the pitch I am not happy with.
“But we will have to wait and see. Our main focus is on Saturday’s game and trying to win another trophy.”
Glentoran only have one injury doubt – Stephen McAlorum is carrying a minor calf strain.