Falkirk captain Darren Dods knows Sunday’s Ramsdens Cup final is an important date in the season for Falkirk and for him.
The defender has never had the chance to compete in the Ramsdens Cup final or its previous incarnations of the SFL Challenge Cup.
But what the captain didn’t know was that Sunday’s showpiece, live on BBC Alba, will be his 500th start in senior football.
He expressed his surprise when The Falkirk Herald broke the news this week, but more than a personal milestone, the Falkirk captain wants to clock up a trophy for team-mates several years his junior.
“Wow, I didn’t know I’d played that many games,” he admitted.
“I suppose it’s one of those statistics which just mounts up without you even realising.
“It was 1992 when I started out at Hibs and have moved through the games and added up over the years.
“I suppose a cup final is always special but knowing that [it’s an anniversary], it’s got a bit added to it now, so a win there would really top the occasion off.”
Much has been made of Dods’ seniority over many of the Bairns’ youngsters - some who weren’t even born when their captain was in the single figures of his 500 games.
It’s been a long career over two decades, and a long season, though Dods has been evergreen and starred in almost 40 games. His influence was missed, due to his recent suspension, for the defeat at Ross County.
Steven Pressley has even been talking up his captain’s prospects of serving another year with the Bairns.
On Sunday though, he can go down in Bairns folklore beside cup-winning captains Jamie McGowan, Kevin James and John Hughes.
“It’s been a long time coming. We played Brechin up there in July, then won the semi-final in October time, we want to make up for everything that’s happened recently.
“The cup final is a chance to bounce back. We just need to write off last week.
“The whole month of March has been bad for us. Sunday is the start of a new month, it’s a new game so hopefully we can have a fresh start.
There are six weeks of the season left, and we don’t want to end on a low note.
The Ramsdens Cup gave us a positive start to the season, now we need to use it to give us a positive ending too.”
Dods scored in that opening round win at Glebe Park, and he’s pressing for double figures in his goalscoring chart for the season.
His absence was noticed when he sat out the defeat in Ross County, and his influence will be key if off-colour Falkirk are to wrest the cup away from in-form Hamilton.
“The cup final is a chance to steady things a bit.
“It’s come at a good time because if it was to end on the recent games then that wouldn’t be a fitting way to end things.
“We’ve actually fallen away in the league recently, and we’re down at third in the league and it’s getting tighter by the week so a cup would cetrtainly give the dressing room a big lift and help push us on in the final few weeks.
“The games are all tight ones with Hamilton but we’ve edged both 1-0 at their place and kept a clean sheet here in the 0-0 draw.
“It will be tight again but we need to get back up to our January speed, if we can get that back and forget about March and make up for a poor month we can do alright - but it will be tight again.”