The time for talking is nearly over and now Portadown and Linfield must do their talking on the field of play. Portadown will be making their fifth appearance in the final of this competition dating back to 1987. Ronnie McFall in his first full season in the Shamrock Park hot seat took ‘The Ports’ all the way to the final. On route the Reds defeated Milford Everton, Crusaders, Glentoran and Larne. Coleraine were our opponents in the decider at The Oval and the Ports had the ball in the net in the first minute, but it was disallowed following a foul on the Bannsider’s keeper. The rest of the game was a dull affair and extra-time was required with the match tied at 0-0. A solitary goal from Sammy McQuiston in the 107th minute denied McFall his first trophy at the helm of his hometown club.

We had to wait until the 1995/96 season for our next League Cup Final appearance. Victories over Dundela, Ballymena United, Linfield and Glenavon set up a Windsor Park meeting with Crusaders. Kick-off was delayed 15 minutes due to a turnstile failure, and the first half ended goalless. With just five minutes of the second half elapsed Garry Haylock gave the Ports the lead.  It was a lead they held until the 79th minute when Syd Burrows made it all square, but within four minutes Robert Casey scored what turned out to be the winning goal for Portadown.

The 2008/09 season saw Portadown unfortunately plying their trade in the IFA Championship. Along the way to lifting the league title Ronnie McFall reached his third League Cup Final. He masterminded a cup campaign that included victories against Ballymoney United, Larne, Cliftonville, Linfield, and Glentoran. Only Newry City stood in the way of a second League Cup Final success. It took a Gary McCutcheon goal to separate the sides and unleash wild scenes of red and white delight in the Mourneview Park stands.

Appearance number four came around just two years later and again Mourneview Park played host to the finalists Portadown and Lisburn Distillery.  Portadown disposed of Knockbreda Parish, Carrick Rangers, Coleraine and Glentoran to set up the meeting with a Lisburn Distillery side which included Gary Thompson in their ranks. Matthew Tipton gave us a 1-0 lead three minutes before the break. It was not to be however, and the whites stunned the big Ports following with two second half goals.

So, for Portadown, our record stands at two wins and two defeats in League Cup Finals. What way the BetMcLean Cup Final will go, awaits to be seen.

Down through the years Portadown and Linfield have met in thirteen finals in various cup competitions. As would be expected The Belfast Blues have had the overwhelming majority of successes.  The record includes three Irish Cup Finals, nine Gold Cup Finals including one replay, and one Ulster Cup Final. Portadown have only came out on top twice. In 1952/53 The Gold Cup made its way to Shamrock Park following a 2-1 win against the blues. Two late goals From Mennie and Punton overturned a lead which Linfield had held since the first half. Our other cup final victory came in the 1995/96 Ulster Cup Final. Garry Haylock looked to have won the trophy with a 73rd minute goal, but McCoosh grabbed the equaliser four minute from time. The game went into extra time and another former blue man Gary Peebles restored the Ports lead. Fenlon again tied the game and so it was down to penalties. When Bailies spot kick was saved it was down to Neil Candlish to secure the trophy which he duly did.

Will it be third time lucky for the Ports? What we do know is Niall Currie and his team will leave nothing on the field.

Written by Trevor Clydesdale