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Scott Youn: Solitude League Cup final venue is a joke

Lyttle's men will triumph - but final should be played at Windsor

By Scott Young

Published 09/02/2016

Glory shot: Reds boss Gerard Lyttle hopes the club can lift the League Cup for the fourth year in-a-row
Glory shot: Reds boss Gerard Lyttle hopes the club can lift the League Cup for the fourth year in-a-row

It's the League Cup final at Solitude on Saturday evening and I can only see one winner - Cliftonville.

There are many losers, however, before a ball is kicked in anger.

This match should not be played at Cliftonville's home ground. It should be played at our National Stadium as well as every other major cup final.

When I was a player every big final was staged at Windsor, apart from a few County Antrim Shield deciders. That's fine, but the League Cup is a major trophy.

Even when you travelled to Windsor for a league game it was a special feeling as you knew it was a big occasion so you can imagine the glitz and glamour it adds to the cup final.

This season's County Antrim Shield final between Linfield and Ballymena United at Windsor was a classic and if you asked the Ards players they would relish an opportunity to taste the big game atmosphere.

Even Cliftonville players would rather play the game at Windsor, get on the bus and travel to the ground instead of doing the same routine for a home league game. There isn't another stadium in Northern Ireland that can rival Windsor in terms of facilities so why aren't we using it?

The Oval should never be used for a major final as it's not modern enough, but we have a new state of the art facility at Windsor.

I don't care what the reasons are for Windsor not being used - financial or otherwise - it's all nonsense. We should be promoting our game and reaching out to new supporters, but even before this final gets under way the players and supporters are getting a raw deal.

Someone needs to take a long, hard look at themselves over this decision.

Linfield would have home advantage in a final, but it's been like that for a long time and I don't have a problem with that. It can inspire other teams like Ballymena United this season.

How many opportunities have the Ards players had to perform in a major final at Windsor Park?

As for the game, Cliftonville will win it and make history by becoming the first club to lift the trophy four years in-a-row.

That's a huge incentive for them, plus Gerard Lyttle wants his first trophy as a manager. David Healy just missed out on his first chance and it will hurt as it means so much.

The Reds do not lose many matches at Solitude and perhaps Ards can take some inspiration from the fact everyone is writing them off, but for me Cliftonville will finish the job.

One of the big reasons why I can only see one winner is the competition for places now in their squad. With Davy McDaid, Jay Donnelly, Daniel Hughes and Darren Murray wanting game time the boys know they have to deliver week in, week out. There's no room for complacency.

I know Daniel and Darren are cup-tied for this one, but Jay is banging the goals in and when you look at their team you can see goals from all over the pitch.

Four consecutive League Cup wins would be a fabulous achievement and the Reds have a great opportunity to make history.

They have the experience to make it happen too.

Ards may miss out on Saturday, but hopefully they can return to the top flight and keep moving in the right direction. Without a home themselves for too long, they have a proud history and can hopefully enjoy a prosperous future.

Belfast Telegraph

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