A hearts fans take of Hibs 3 v 2 Rangers - 28/05/16

May 24, 2017

4.45pm Saturday 21st May 2016. It's the dying minutes of a pulsating Scottish Cup Final and Hibs in the ascendancy win a corner. Liam Henderson whips the ball in and captain David Gray nods in ahead of his marker Halliday to continue his personal high scoring rate against Rangers and in doing so looked to hand his club a famous cup win. At this moment 114 years of  history is finally being put to bed and sheets upon sheets of the Hearts song book are being torn apart.
On the balance of play, they more than deserved their victory. Aside from a twenty minute spell in second half when Rangers kept the ball well, Hibs set the tempo from the first minute onwards and looked more assured and organised compared to their Championship rivals. Rangers players looked jaded and bar Miller & Zelium did not play anywhere near their swashbuckling best from earlier in the season. With James Tavernier exposed again and again, He lacks the instincts of a full-back, and at one stage was the most advanced Rangers' player at a time when Hibs were attacking.

Lee Wallace was prepared to tuck in and offer cover on the left, yet even in the second half when Tavernier's attacking forays were more pronounced, Stokes still left him looking sluggish.

It looked a ploy by Hibs to attack the space between Tavernier and the equally fragile Rob Kiernan, while their own back three was designed to limit the corridors of space that Rangers like to attack through in the final third, particularly when the wing-backs dropped deep to make a defensive five. Yet twice they lost the diminutive Kenny Miller in the air. A very small negative to highlight on a day were Stubbs got his selections spot on.

The Hibs fans unfurled a banner before kick-off that read: Time For Heroes - and it was quickly scrambled back up after the pitch invasion. Stokes, certainly, delivered his best performance during this second spell at the club. John McGinn, too, was typically robust and industrious, while Liam Henderson's set-piece deliveries were excellent.

As a Hearts fan it was certainly a mix of emotions running through my mind as I watched David Gray collect the cup on the Hampden podium. Banter aside, I was happy to see very hard working honest professionals Gray, Hanlon, Stevenson & Mcgregor collect winners medals and would applaud the likes of Keatings & Cummings who have had to work hard to win over the Easter Road due to links with their nearest rivals. It was also great to know that my good friends and family had their day in the sun finally. Yes, there were feelings of jealousy on a general level against the club and fans as a whole but then I think of my father in law who has followed Hibs since the 60's and the seethe that the win would create in Govan and I felt fine. 

There is also the fact to consider that I as a Hearts fan born in the 80's has been fairly spoilt when having bragging rights on the school yard or office on a Monday. Just like 22 in a row, the 114 year banter brings on its own pressure and an end to such a streak can enable a section of our fans to concentrate on our club.

Hibs have another season in the Championship to contemplate, but that will seem incidental to their supporters for now. So, too, will recriminations from the pitch invasion and rightly so. Without trivialising the alleged assault on various Rangers players, it has to be said that the vast majority of Hibs supporters who did behave themselves do not deserve to have their win tainted.

The majority of those who took to the pitch merely wanted to mark the moment - Hibs fans huddled for pictures, some holding great dollops of turf - and seemed genuinely overcome by emotion. Others swarmed over the crossbar of the goal where the winner was scored, and it soon collapsed.

For all the whataboutery and accusations flung around since last week, two main points need to be raised within the walls of Easter Road Stadium.

1 - Why did the club create a ticket sales system which opened up possibility of a small band of supporters purchasing new season tickets to hand their additional tickets onto non hibs supporting friends ?( just a hunch but I bet some of those goading the rangers fans were not hibs supporters)

2 - Why did the club maintain communication silence and help create a vacuum for Rangers and certain media franchises to exploit?

Order was eventually restored, but it was 17.25 GMT, 40 minutes after the final whistle, before the Hibs players could re-emerge for their moment of triumph. The Hibs fans had eventually returned to the stands, but their end of the pitch remained ringed by stewards and police throughout the trophy presentation.

The authorities will pore over what happened. The football will seem incidental at times, yet Hibs' celebrations will be heedless of the game and its aftermath. The club has waited so long, and endured such taunts and heartbreak in the meantime, that holding the Scottish Cup again for the first time since 1902 will seem like a cathartic moment.