Colin Coates says Crusaders are not in to Irish Cup fairy tales!
Colin Coates is quite happy to be the villain of the piece if it means Crusaders win Saturday’s Irish Cup final.
A lot has been made of the romance of the occasion as minnows Ballinamallard United prepare to take on the Premiership giants.
But the Crues skipper has a message for the crowds coming up from Fermanagh - “We’re not into fairy tales!”
“If I’m being honest, I’d say we would want Ballinamallard to beat a Linfield or Cliftonville in the final if that was the game,” said Coates.
“People love an underdog but it was something similar last season when we were going for the title.
“Away from the Shore Road people were rooting for Coleraine and we had to fight against all the praise Coleraine were getting.
“We know the neutrals will want Ballinamallard to win and I can totally understand that as it would be a footballing fairy tale but we’re not into fairy tales, we are here for ourselves and doing the best for our club and families.
“It’s about winning another trophy and medal.”
A lot of pundits a predicting an easy afternoon for Coates and the Crues, but he could not disagree more.
The big centre half knows exactly the threat Harry McConkey’s side will pose, and he will not be taking anything for granted.
“This will be an extremely tough game,” he said.
“Ballinamallard will feel like they have the whole of Fermanagh behind them and they have nothing to lose in that sense.
“Both sides wil give everything they have and you hope it’s enough. We have to be prepared on the day.
“Your name’s not on it until the wee man who does the engraving sticks your name on it.
“You don’t really get Cup momentum, in each match you have to deal with the threats and play well.
“Previous rounds have no bearing on this game. We’ve beaten top teams to get to the final but now it’s about producing one more big performance.”
It’s remarkable to think that given the success the Shore Road side have had over the last decade the last time they won the Irish Cup was back in 2009.
Coates is hoping to put that straight come Saturday.
“The 2009 Final feels like yesterday as memories are still vivid,” he said.
“Obviously it was a big derby occasion with ourselves and Cliftonville not having won the trophy in a long time.
“Both teams had chances and we managed to get a goal early in the second half.
“Cliftonville threw everything at us but we managed to get the win and make it a brilliant day. I can remember running to the stand and going crazy at the final whistle. I had the energy to do that in my early 20s!
“That gave us the platform to compete for big trophies and also play in Europe.
“Another Irish Cup would be amazing, I’ve played in three finals, losing the two to Linfield and they’re not much fun when you lose but they are probably the best days when you win.
“A few boys in the changing room haven’t got an Irish Cup winners medal and obviously they have that hunger. The Irish Cup could help save our season after the league title defence didn’t go as planned.
“The Cup has been our biggest focus and we’ve got to go and deliver on Saturday.”
Coates is hoping the Crues big game experience will prove vital on the day.
He said: “No matter what game you’re playing, whenever you cross that white line everything else is out the window. You forget about the trophy and your family. You play the game and ignore the razzamataz. If you think about looking at your family in the crowd someone will go past you and slip the ball in the net.
“Players who handle the occasion better will win the game and we’ve had plenty of big games over the last five years. We must be physically and mentally ready to perform.”