In Glenn Taggart’s 19 years at Carrick Rangers there is just one moment that still keeps him awake at night.
On Christmas morning 2008, Taggart and his Carrick’s team-mates were preparing for extra-time in the Steel & Sons Cup final when Ards striker Ricky Billing scored a winner four minutes into stoppage time.
Taggart and his team-mate sank to their knees as Ards celebrated their first ever Steel & Sons Cup success. It may be six years ago, but Taggart is honest enough to admit that goal still haunts him.
“Every Christmas morning since that Ards final I’m reminded of it, and even at random times during the year the memory comes back to me.
“Even though I’ve won the Championship, the Intermediate Cup and the old Intermediate League Cup with Carrick, that Ards cup final sticks in my mind more than any of those wins.
“It ruined Christmas day. You try and put on a brave face for your family but it’s not possible, your Christmas is ruined.
“Since then we’ve got no further than the quarters, so I feel like this is my first chance to get it right. I determined to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
This year, Harland & Wolff Welders are Carrick’s opponents.
Like the 2008 final, the Yuletide decider at Seaview (10.45am) is likely to be a nail-biting encounter. Taggart is determined to learn from the 2008-experience.
“This is similar situation, as it’s two evenly matched teams. On that day Ards threw on a late substitute and he scored the 94th minute winner, which was obviously heartbreaking.
“It shows that you have to play right until the final whistle, but we also have to play from the start. Even though we took the lead that day, we didn’t actually start that well and when you start badly it’s hard to find your rhythm.”
Defender Taggart signed for his hometown club in the summer of 1996, before making his senior début in 1997. Since then he has endured the best of times and the worst of times in the amber of Carrick Rangers. He’s determined to make the cup final something he can look back on with pride.
“I’m from Carrickfergus and I’ve only ever played for Carrick Rangers, so it does mean a lot to me. I know as a 34 year-old I’ve not got many chances left to win trophies for Carrick, so I’m driven to do achieve things.
“I’ve always wanted to win trophies and play in the Premiership. It took me over 10 years to reach the the top flight, and even though we got relegated I’m still very proud of that achievement.
“My aim has always been to do well for the club I supported as a boy. I remember the 1993 County Antrim Shield final win over Glentoran and the 1995 Irish Cup final defeat to Linfield, so it means the world to me but at the end of the day I’m just another player. All I can do is give my all and pass on my experience to the players around me.”