Win or lose, Glentoran will hail Linfield
Two years ago Eddie Patterson put his Cliftonville players through one of the most difficult experiences of their football careers.
It was bad enough that they had just lost to Linfield, the fact that the result meant the Blues took the league title ahead of them made it doubly worse.
There was a triple whammy for the Reds player though, as their disappointment was compounded by Patterson making them stay on the pitch to applaud Linfield being presented with the Gibson Cup.
As hard as that was to go through, Patterson — now in charge of Glentoran — will do exactly the same when the silverware is handed over to the Blues after today’s Big Two battle at Windsor Park.
“It’s only right that you show teams some respect, no matter what the history and the rivalry between the clubs is,” said Patterson.
“It was very hard for the Cliftonville players and myself to watch Linfield lifting the league title because we’d been fighting it out with them right down to the last couple of games.
“We’ll be showing Linfield the respect they deserve as champions with a traditional guard of honour before the game and we’ll acknowledge their achievement by applauding them being presented with the trophy.
“Things like that make players stronger inside and I’ll be hoping that it can inspire my players and that they come back next season wanting a taste of that themselves.”
On the pitch it could well be a rather watered down version of a Big Two game. With the title already in the bag and an Irish Cup final to think about next weekend the Linfield line-up won’t be anywhere near as strong as it would be if there was anything other than local pride riding on the game.
For Patterson, however, it’s his first taste of a Linfield v Glentoran contest and it’s one he wants to remember.
“It’s more like the Big One against sixth place,” said Patterson.
“The league table doesn’t lie and we’re in sixth place for a reason.
“It’s still a massive game though. Linfield haven’t beaten Glentoran this season and that’s something they’ll want to put right.
“It’s also my first time in charge of Glentoran against Linfield and I go into it with my eyes wide open.
“I’ve attended one before and I know what the atmosphere and intensity can be like.
“Linfield will have players playing for their place in the Irish Cup final and it doesn’t matter what their squad number is, they will want to be in the 11 next Saturday, so there is plenty to play for for everyone.”
Patterson and his Linfield counterpart David Jeffrey have known each other for years, but their relationship has now taken a turn.
“David said that I have ‘passed to the dark side’ so maybe things have changed,” he said.