ANDY McLean got up on Sunday morning knowing he had a big day ahead of him.
The 21-year-old was in the Berwick Rangers squad set to meet Celtic in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup.
Celtic – the team he had supported since he was a boy.
On leaving his Rosalee Brae home for the match, Andy was focused on thoughts of playing against his heroes. And he was reminded of the task ahead even before a ball had been kicked.
Andy, who began his footballing career playing for Denholm Under-12s at the tender age of 12, said: “Craig Lyle, who stays across the road from me, had put up a big picture of Neil Lennon with the Scottish Cup in his window.”
Tension was starting to build for Andy, but this was lifted when he heard he was in the Berwick starting line-up, when the team was announced in the dressing room.
He said: “We had a full squad and some players were going to be left out completely, so it was a great feeling when I heard my name being read out.”
Central defender Andy, who played for Burnfoot Star before signing for Berwick Rangers Under-17s when he was 15, went on to have an outstanding game against the Hoops.
Despite a first half mistake which resulted in Celtic’s opening goal, stone mason Andy gave a rock solid performance.
He said: “I’ve supported Celtic since I was a little boy, so it was really weird walking down the tunnel at Shielfield and running onto the pitch with players I’d watched so many times on television – it was even more weird playing against them though.
“With the crowd and the Sky TV cameras there I was excited and nervous, but once the referee’s whistle went, I blanked everything out and concentrated on the game.
“I was gutted when I made the mistake that led to Celtic scoring, but it happened so I just had to lift my head up and get on with it. Although we didn’t get a result, I thought we did really well to hold a team that is top of the Premier League and is full of internationals the way we did.
“We had a penalty shout turned down early in the game. If that had been awarded and we’d scored then it would have been completely different.
“I’ve dreamed about playing for them for so long, so to play against them is something I’ll never forget.”
Andy added with a smile: “I’ve been told the commentator on Sky said I came from Melrose and I’ve had texts and phone calls from people who weren’t happy about this. But it could have been worse, he could have said I came from Gala!”
His excellent performance didn’t go unnoticed as Berwick manager Jimmy Crease confirmed after the full-time whistle. He said: “Three different managers came up to me after the Celtic game and said how well Andy had played, so that has to be a feather in his cap.”