Calum Butcher has been associated with Dundee United for long enough to know what the club is about – delivering trophies the Arabs so desire.
Over two spells, Butcher has made himself familiar with the United story – Jim McLean, League Cups, the 1983 Premier Division title, Europe, the Scottish Cup, finally, in 1994 and again 2010.
Having been runners-up in the Scottish six times before Ivan Golac’s 94 success, it’s a competition that still carries much weight for the Terrors.
Butch knows all about that burden of the past and is keen to make a little piece of history himself after coming so close in his first stint at Tannadice.
The 30-year-old was a part of the group that lost the Scottish Cup to St Johnstone in 2014 and played in 2015’s 2-0 League Cup showpiece defeat at the hands of Celtic.
Those experiences were heart-breaking for the Englishman – a feeling he never wants again as the Tangerines head into Saturday’s Scottish Cup last-four showdown with Hibs.
His experience of Hampden, he reckons, will be useful; only this time he is determine to create better memories in his second spell on Tannadice Street.
‘I’ve had that disappointment and I don’t want to have it again’
“It does come in handy turning up to arenas like Hampden,” Butcher said of his experience of past finals.
“I’ve had that disappointment and I don’t want to have it again.
“It drives you on for those games and to have that experience of playing in big games is always helpful.
“We beat Aberdeen in the League Cup semi in 2015 but lost to Celtic in the final.
“It was a high to get there but it was disappointment in the final. I don’t want to go there and have that feeling again.”
European football as much an incentive as silverware
With the prizes on offer for the winner, silverware and guaranteed European football headed into Christmas next season, Butcher says United need no extra incentive to book their place in the final.
If they can navigate the Hibees, Tayside neighbours St Johnstone or St Mirren will lie in wait for a winner-takes-all clash.
As much as getting his hands on a trophy in the same season he hit 100 games in tangerine would be special, Butch admits the carrot of continental competition adds an extra edge for the Terrors.
Speaking after Saturday’s disappointing 2-0 Premiership defeat to Ross County, he added: “As soon as you find out that’s the situation then you are thinking about that because it’s massive for the club and progression in your career.
“Playing in Europe is something everyone wants to do but there’s a long way to go.
“We’ve, hopefully, got two massive games with the semi and maybe a final.
“They’re going to be difficult but we have to put Ross County to bed and make sure we’re right at it from the first whistle on Saturday.”
Of the club’s ambitions of adding a first major trophy since 2010 to the Tannadice cabinet, Butcher continued: “We spoke about that at the start of the season, definitely.
“We want to be challenging for cups and having good runs.
“The progression now is obvious. We just missed out on the top six and this is the next step – to get ourselves into the final and a massive opportunity of finishing in Europe.
“It’s huge. Everyone has spoken about the Old Firm being knocked out so it’s a massive opportunity for one of us to go and win it.
“I’m really looking forward to the game.”
Butch happy to let Hibs have favourites tag
Hibs’ third-placed Premiership standing compared to United’s ninth is enough for many bookmakers to have the Edinburgh side down as favourites this weekend.
It’s a tag that suits the Tangerines, believes Butcher, insisting they are happy to be the underdogs provided they win through on the day.
For the midfield man there are no real favourites, just two teams going at it for 90 minutes and their shot at a date with destiny.
“It’s whoever turns up on the day,” Butcher commented.
“These are tough games and we’ve had good, tight games with them this season.
“I think we prefer going in as underdogs, if I’m being honest, that’s the way we like to play.
“We’re happy to have that if they want to take on being favourites.
“We’ll go about our business a certain way and make it a difficult game for them.”
United will respond after County loss
A two-goal defeat at the hands of relegation-threatened County at Tannadice on Saturday was far from ideal preparation for the club’s biggest game in many a year.
Harsh words were exchanged in the dressing-room after and, despite how it appeared on the surface, Butcher believes the loss and poor performance could be the kick up the backside United need headed for Hampden.
The combative midfielder admits they weren’t good enough against the Highlanders and has promised a ‘response’ against Hibs as he played down suggestions they had one eye on the semi-final.
Asked if the semi-final being on the horizon was a distraction, Butcher said: “Possibly. I don’t think you go into games thinking like that, though.
“We knew they’re fighting for their lives and had to be dogged and go through spells.
“It was two sloppy goals but not much else in the game. We just didn’t quite have that quality to put our chances away and didn’t test their keeper enough at all.
“It’s got to be put to bed now. We were in the dressing-room after for a long period speaking and the air’s been cleared.
“We go again this week and we know it’s a massive game for us and the club. We’ll make sure we have a response.”