Stubbs told Hibs to end Hampden cup hoodoo and write their own history
Easter Road manager revels in ending 114-year wait for glory
ALAN STUBBS addressed his players the night before Hibernian history was made and told them not to become just another losing team to be sneered at and mocked for all time.
No more gallant losers, no more Hibsing it. Not this time.
Stubbs saw in the eyes of the troops that they were ready, not only to win the Scottish Cup for the first time since 1902, but to stop their football club being a joke. He asked them to present Leith with its greatest footballing day and every last one of them delivered.
“It is not their fault the club has had a 114-year wait,” said Stubbs. “What we spoke about before the game, and over the last couple of days, was that they had an opportunity. All you ever want as a player, whether it’s being selected in the team or to play in cup finals, is that you have an opportunity to change something.
“They had that on Saturday. We spoke about it on Friday night, as in don’t be another chapter in terms of being another team (that loses). Be the team that creates a whole new chapter and a whole new place in history. They certainly did that.
“I don’t know when it will hit home. You can see how much it means to the football club. It has been that other people have mocked us. If I was a fan, and it was Everton-Liverpool, I would be the same. When you are a fan of another team and it keeps happening, you embrace in peoples’ inability to change.”
It did appear as if the final was keeping to the script. Hibs were the better team, had taken the lead, missed lots of chances, but, with the game coming to its conclusion, they were trailing Rangers. How familiar.
This time, though, was different. Anthony Stokes equalised and when Hibs captain David Gray sent the ball into the net two minutes into injury time, the manager knew that was it. Their time had come.
“My emotion straight away after the third goal was that we’d done it,” said Stubbs. “When you score so late in the game it does rip the stomach out of the other team. We have experienced that ourselves and so I know how difficult it is to come back from that.
“It was everything: relief, excitement, euphoria. But probably the biggest one is relief.
“I thought it was a really good game, worthy of a Scottish Cup final.”
So is ‘Hibsing it’ consigned to the rubbish bin?
“We have to play our part because when we do lose a lead or do lose a game, then you are open for criticism,” said Stubbs. “Some of the criticism can sometimes be right and there are other times it is harsh.”
Stubbs is now a messiah down Leith way and far beyond.
There was no parting of the sea, but there was some passing of water which seems to have brought much-needed luck.
“I missed the second goal because I had gone for my routine toilet break,” he revealed. “We scored in the last couple of games when I was away, so there may have been an element of hope rather than anything. It’s because I drink so much water and coffee before a game.”
Stubbs certainly relished yesterday’s parade around the streets of Edinburgh, staged in front of an estimated 150,000 supporters, and hopes Hibernian’s historic win can inspire his own son, Sam, onto a glittering career.
Stubbs enjoyed a reserved Saturday evening, toasting the triumph with his family. It was a special moment to share with his 17-year-old son, currently on the books of Wigan Athletic.
“Sam who is just about to take his first step on the ladder after completing his first year scholar at Wigan,” said Stubbs. “He now has a memory, seeing this football club and me as a manager lift something.
“For for him to see that – and, hopefully, take something from the occasion – was fantastic for me. Looking at him now I’d say he’s better than me when I was his age.
“All my early memories would have been based around Everton, seeing them winning the FA Cup and walking up the old Wembley Way, and maybe he has something similar now.”
Through all of his successes at Celtic, Stubbs was denied the opportunity to sample an open-topped bus parade in Glasgow and he was overcome by the experience.
“I did it once at Bolton, but not on that level,” he said. “It was mindblowing. I know Saturday was special for the players, but none of them will forget the parade.”
Of course, the fall-out from the postmatch violence continues. Hibs’ victory was not overshadowed as some have suggested, nor will it become some footnote, but the scenes at the end did tarnish the day and Stubbs is aware that his club could end up being hurt depending on what punishment the authorities deem appropriate.
“I don’t condone that [Rangers players and staff being attacked] whatsoever. In fact, if that’s the case, it is very poor. I will try to contact Rangers.”
S WEET RELIEF: Two-goal hero Anthony Stokes is hailed by Hibs skipper David Gray, left, and James Keatings