The Theatre of Dreams was certainly an apt name for the venue in which Richard Tait took on the might of Manchester United for the second time on Tuesday night.
Tait, the Cambridge United right back who was brought up in Yetholm, spoke to The Southern yesterday about taking on a side worth £231million.
He said: “It’s what all players dream about. You watch them on telly and you can only wonder what it’s like.
“And walking onto the pitch, watched by 74,500 fans, was just mental.”
As far as Tuesday’s game went, Tait did his job very well. It looked like a shock may be on the cards as early as the first minute when Cambridge’s Tom Elliot hit the post after a blunder by Daley Blind.
Tait, for his part, kept things tight at the back and had an ongoing personal battle against the man who broke the British transfer record, £60million man Angel Di Maria.
And for most of the time, it was a battle he won. The one time Di Maria got enough room to fire in a cross, it was headed down by Marouane Fellaini and netted by Juan Mata, ending the deadlock between the two sides which had lasted 118 minutes.
Tait couldn’t have stopped Marcos Rojo doubling the Red Devils’ tally four minutes later, and by the time James Wilson made it three it was more or less a fait accompli.
Tait had his moments at the other end of the park as well, with some flashing runs and a headed attempt at goal which flew agonisingly wide – a move which also saw him show his strength by bundling Wayne Rooney to the ground.
Tait’s time in the limelight has not done him any harm whatsoever, but he remains firmly grounded.
He said: “I’m loving being at Cambridge and I’m happy to stay here.
“The first leg against Manchester United was just amazing – it showed what we are capable of.
“And for the first 20 minutes or so of the replay, we settled really well into the game, we just went out to enjoy it and we knew it was always going to be difficult.”
Tait moved to Manchester when he was 10, but remembers fondly his time in Yetholm.
He said: “I played for Kelso boys when I was a lad, and they were good times. I didn’t get to play 11-a-side until I moved south, though.
“I think there are a lot of good young players in the Borders, but because of the location, it takes a lucky break for them to get noticed.”
Photograph courtesy of David Johnson/Cambridge News