LEGIONS of Capital football fans travel to Glasgow today in what has been billed as the largest single migration between the cities in recent history.
More than 50,000 supporters will make the pilgrimage to Hampden in an exodus likely to swamp the transport network.
Supporters can expect tailbacks on motorways while long queues may be a feature of railway platforms across the Lothians and in Glasgow.
ScotRail has laid on an extra 11,000 seats to cope with the strain while a two-man patrol crew will deal with any breakdowns on the M8.
Transport Scotland said it expected a huge relocation of football fans to Scotland’s second city.
Keith Brown, Transport Minister, said: “All transport routes into Glasgow are sure to be busy and that’s why I’d encourage fans to leave plenty of time, following the travel advice from the police and match organisers.
“The M8 is expected to be extremely busy so those making the journey should listen to travel updates on radio and the Traffic Scotland website.
“Transport Scotland has extended its trunk road incident support service to cover the entire M8, so this vehicle and two-man crew will be on patrol to deal with any breakdowns or incidents promptly.
“In addition, ScotRail has arranged additional capacity of 11,000 seats between Edinburgh and Glasgow and between Glasgow city centre and Hampden Park.”
More than 50 trains will have additional carriages and will run on the Edinburgh to Glasgow Central via Shotts line as well as the two routes between Edinburgh and Glasgow Queen Street via Falkirk High and Bathgate respectively.
ScotRail will also run several longer trains at Glasgow Central to and from Mount Florida and King’s Park stations.
Paul Waterson from the Scottish Licensed Trade Association said the influx to Glasgow marked a refreshing change from Edinburgh’s domination of the tourist trade.
“I think in Glasgow, we look with envy at Edinburgh since it hosts the Festival and has the rugby at Murrayfield which are great occasions and means the pubs are often busy.
“Even in terms of the tourists Edinburgh does very well so it makes a nice change to have everyone coming through here.”
He added: “There will be hundreds of thousands of pints sold. Because the celebration for one team will go on into the night I just hope there aren’t any problems.
“We want people to enjoy themselves but to drink responsibly.”
This theme has been echoed by both Capital clubs and the police.
In a message to fans, a Hearts spokesman said: “Enjoy the historic occasion and travel safely. Support Heart of Midlothian FC with pride and let’s paint Hampden maroon. But most importantly of all, focus on the football.”
Meanwhile, Fife Hyland, managing director of Hibernian, said: “Today’s cup final represents a landmark moment in the history of Hibernian – for the team, the manager and coaching staff, but most of all, for the supporters. We want everyone involved to have a safe and memorable day.
“Given the nature of the game, the supporters will not only be ambassadors of Hibernian, but of the city of Edinburgh itself.
“After a tough season for Hibernian, we have a real opportunity to showcase what is great about the game and our club – rivalry, history, tradition, excitement and passion – but most of all, respect. Respect for our opponents, for our hosts, and for each other.”
A Hibs spokesman also batted away queries about the so-called curse said to have deprived the Easter Road club of Scottish Cup glory for the last century. The story goes that the sacking of Hibs’ first Irish manager Dan McMichael, who was at the helm for the club’s 1902 success, led to a gypsy hexing Hibs’ chances in the competition.
He is also said to have placed a curse on the East Stand that could only be lifted when it was demolished, which it was two years ago, and an Irishman was once more in the hot seat, as came to pass with Pat Fenlon’s appointment as manager in November.
The spokesman said: “With reference to the so-called curse, this is another story which is part of the rich tapestry of Hibernian folklore.
“But right now today’s fixture is not about numbers, years or even so-called curses – it is all about winning.”
Today’s all-Edinburgh Hampden final will be the 33rd time that the two teams have met in the Scottish Cup, with favourites Hearts holding a better head-to-head advantage.
But Hibs, who are looking to end their 110-year cup drought, have won more games when the rivals have locked horns on a Saturday.
In total, the Tynecastle outfit have won 13 matches against, with Hibs emerging victorious in nine.
In the day when ties went to replays, seven were drawn, while three matches – two in 1879 and one in 1910 – were abandoned.
But when it comes to Scottish Cup clashes that have taken place on a Saturday, Hibs hold the upper hand of nine wins to Hearts’ seven.
Scottish Cup final on scotsman.com
IF you’re not one of the lucky Hearts or Hibs fans with a ticket for Hampden, why not join in our live Scottish Cup final blog?
Sports writer Martin Dempster will be online from 2pm to 5pm reporting from Hampden where he will be providing updates on the atmosphere, a minute-by-minute account of the action and will also be reporting on the post-match celebrations.
Our site will also be a hive of Cup Final activity with the latest news posted throughout the day, post-match reaction from both sides, alongside a final whistle match report, fan reaction videos and picture galleries pinpointing the game’s crucial points.
We’ll also be advising fans of the winning team of the final details of the open top bus celebrations.
• Listen to Moira Gordon and Stuart Bathgate discuss the match in our Scottish Cup final podcast.