As far as landmark weeks in the life of a young man go, this one will take some beating for Arbroath striker Lewis Coult.
After the euphoria of welcoming his first child into the world today, the 27-year-old diehard Jambo will then fulfil a lifetime’s ambition tomorrow night by playing in a competitive match at Tynecastle when his club visit Hearts in the first round of the League Cup.
“To have my first child the day before the biggest game of my career – it doesn’t get any better than that. I actually don’t know what I’m more looking forward to,” the centre-forward joked, when talking to the Evening News last night. “We’ve always had the C-section planned for this day. I originally thought the game was going to be on the same day. If that was the case, it would have been a real rush to have the baby in the morning and then rush to Tynecastle at night.
“Even if it was on the same day I would have 100 per cent still got to the game. It’s worked out perfect, though, with the game being on the Thursday because I’ll have a chance to get a wee sleep and I’ll still be on a high when I get to Tynecastle for the match.”
Coult will don a new pair of boots embroidered with the name of his baby daughter, Mila, tomorrow. For a man who says “I think you’d struggle to find a player in football who is more of a Hearts fan than myself”, this promises to be an exhilarating couple of days. “I look forward to every game – I always have that buzz but this game for me is something else,” said Coult. “It is something I will be able to take to my grave. A real memory to treasure. I can tell the grandchildren about it as well as my little daughter. It will great to tell her that she was part of such a special week.”
Coult was part of Hearts Boys Club and then their youth initiative between the ages of eight and 14. Although he got to play at Tynecastle as a 13-year-old, he had resigned himself to the fact he may never play a professional game there when he slipped into the junior ranks with Leith Athletic as a 21-year-old. However, he got himself back on track at Arniston Rangers, and Cowdenbeath gave him a route back into the semi-professional game in 2011. He has remained in the SPFL ever since, with spells at Airdrie and Stirling Albion preceding the switch to Gayfield earlier this summer which has provided him with his dream date in Gorgie.
“I am 27 now so you do start to wonder if you’ll ever get to play a proper game at Tynecastle,” said Coult, from Clermiston. “When I dropped into the juniors with Arniston and Leith Athletic, I thought my chance was gone but thankfully Jimmy Nicholl took a chance on me and got me back on track at Cowdenbeath. Whenever my team are in the Scottish or League Cup draw I aways hope we draw Hearts, Hibs, Rangers or Celtic, but, for me, Hearts is always the one I really wanted. I’ve finally got it.”
Coult, nicknamed The Flamingo because of his tall, thin physique allied to a penchant for wearing pink boots, will have plenty support at Tynecastle tomorrow, although his biggest fan will not be in attendance. “It will be a great night for me and my family,” he said. “It is just a shame that my uncle Neil, who goes to every one of my games but is also a massive Hearts fan, has picked this week to go away on holiday. He is in Turkey, so he is absolutely gutted. My mum and my gran and grandad and about 50 of my friends will be there so it will be really special. I’m sure I’ll hear them abusing me as soon as I get out on the pitch. It will be good fun but come 7.45 I’ll have my serious head on.”
Coult’s love for Hearts goes so far that he has a pet dog named Rudi, in honour of the club’s two-time Scottish Cup-winning legend, Skacel. “He is a bit of a hero of mine although John Roberston is my all-time favourite,” he explained. “The 2012 Scottish Cup final has got to be my best memory as a Hearts fan. I genuinely think I would have been more nervous than the Hearts players before that game. It was only when we were 5-1 up I was able to relax. As a Hearts fan, to win the biggest derby of all time is probably the best moment I’ll ever get to see.
“Hearts have given me so many massive days out, though. I try to get to as many games as I can. Anytime I have a free weekend or Hearts are playing on the Sunday I will go along and watch them. I never miss an Edinburgh derby. If I’m not playing, my first thought is to get to Tynecastle or wherever Hearts are playing.”
He knows some of the Hearts players on a personal level, but hasn’t had time to think about how he will react if he stuns his fellow Jambos by scoring a goal. “I am quite good friends with Sam Nicholson and Jamie Walker. I know them through people in football and my girlfriend, Regan, is really close to Jamie’s girlfriend. I was having a wee bit banter with Callum Paterson about the game the other night.
“I’ve not even thought about what I’d do if I score. All I’m worried about is getting on that park and if a chance comes my way hopefully I’ll take it. It’s going to be like Land of The Giants out there with me and big [Alim] Ozturk and [Blazej] Augustyn. At 6ft 5ins, at least I’ll have a slight height advantage over them!”
So what are the prospects for League Two side Arbroath, who lost 4-1 at home to Dunfermline in the Petrofac Cup last Saturday? “We’ve got nothing to lose,” said Coult. “Hearts are a really fit team – they train three times a day, we train three times a week. But fingers crossed we can catch them on an off night. I just want to get on the park and enjoy the experience.”