AS the Hearts players danced with delight at the end of Saturday’s Scottish Cup final, Scott Robinson seeked someone out in the Hampden crowd and ran excitedly over for an emotional bear-hug.
It looked for all the world like the 20-year-old had spotted a family member, until a few of the other younger Hearts players rushed over to join in the embrace. “It was Darren Murray, my old under-19 coach,” revealed Robinson. “There’s a few of us in the team who wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him, so we wanted to give a special thanks to him.”
Robinson, who came on late in the 5-1 demolition of Hibs, dedicated his part in this historic occasion to the under-19 coach who had nurtured him through his early years of life at Hearts. Robinson remains the youngest player to have appeared in the SPL, and, after making his debut at the age of 16 under Stephen Frail more than four years ago, he has now become the youngest Hearts player to appear in a Scottish Cup final since a 19-year-old Gary Naysmith helped bring the old trophy back to Gorgie in 1998.
While Robinson has generally been considered a fringe man over the years, he has shown enough to suggest he will be integral to Hearts next season, when an emphasis is placed on promoting youth products to the first team.
That would provide further encouragement for Murray, but for now, Robinson, or “Pum” as the Hearts-supporting midfielder is known to his team-mates, is content that he and some of his fellow Under-19 graduates have already given their mentor a moment of endless pride to savour.
“Darren’s one of the best youth coaches out there and he’s done a lot for all the young boys here,” he said. “The likes of Ryan McGowan, Jamie MacDonald and Andrew Driver were all on the pitch from the start. He would have been delighted to see that and then I came on as well. You could see it was a great feeling for him. He was in tears at the end, actually.”
Robinson was left gutted when he was the man sacrificed at half-time to make way for match-winner Craig Beattie in the semi-final win over Celtic. But, even though he only got on for four minutes after replacing Ian Black against Hibs, this time there was no hint of disappointment. Instead he simply revelled in helping Hearts see out the remainder of one of the most lop-sided Scottish Cup finals in recent memory.
“I didn’t really mind that I came on so late with the game already won,” he said. “To get on and get a wee touch of the ball was great. I don’t know if this will ever be eclipsed. I’ve been absolutely buzzing – it’s the best moment of my life so far. I couldn’t have imagined we’d win it like that. If you’d said to me at the start of the year that we’d beat Hibs 5-1 in the final, I’d have laughed at you. It’s a great feeling and one I’ll remember for a long time. I grew up watching the derbies, so to be part of a 5-1 win over Hibs in a final is just incredible.”
Every Hearts player had to deal with suggestions in the build-up to the final that they might be crippled by pressure in a game where Hibs had the chance to end their Scottish Cup hoodoo in the most ultimate fashion. However, Robinson insisted the Hearts squad were always in control of their emotions and were never in danger of crumbling under the weight of expectation. “There was a lot of talk about us feeling the pressure in the build-up to the game but we just kept ourselves quiet and got the job done on the day,” he added. “That’s what you’ve got to do. As long as you do that and don’t get too carried away with the occasion, you’ll be fine.”