A couple of years back, in the aftermath of yet another cup final win, I pondered how long it had been since we failed to get to the National Stadium at least one during a campaign.
I couldn’t come up with the answer.
Nor did I know how quickly we would get a new, and shocking, answer to the question. Of the many disgraces of last season, our failure to reach Hampden may have been the worst. But this weekend we are back.
I know it’s not everyone’s favourite stadium but I love Hampden and always have although I’ve seen bad days there as well as good, with perhaps the worst coming in 2002 when Lovenrkands scored in the very last minute.
The good days more than make up for them.
My first visit to Hampden was for the 1985 Scottish Cup Final against Dundee Utd when Davie Provan and Frank McGarvey got the goals to secure the win after we’d gone 1-0 down.
That afternoon will forever be imprinted on my brain.
I don’t know what the future holds, but I know that Hampden is where this team belongs. It is where the manager belongs. It is where he will make his name, the place where he’ll secure his first major honour as Celtic boss. That won’t be this weekend, of course, but this is where he books his first final, the stepping stone towards his place in history.
St Johnstone will really give us a game.
They are the cup holders, and that’s a special status deserving of special respect. They will fight for every ball and we need to be at the very top of our game if we’re going to get a result against them.
But frankly, this team was made for Hampden. Kyogo and Jot and Abada were brought to this special club to play on that special stage. It will be an amazing afternoon and our return to the old ground after a yearlong absence.
To be honest, I just cannot wait for the game.