If Hibs finally land the Scottish Cup today, it ought to emphatically quell any talk of this being a season of failure.
Promotion was the main aim at the start of the season, but that ship has now sailed. There will be sceptics who believe that alone should render this a dismal campaign for Alan Stubbs’ players, regardless of how today’s match goes. Victory at Hampden, however, should override everything that has gone before.
Failure to get back into the Premiership this season is clearly a major setback and the prospect of a third season in the second tier is worthy cause for irritation and mild concern among supporters. However, if offset by a first major cup win in nine years and a first Scottish Cup victory in 114 years, all should be forgiven. Today’s final offers Hibs fans and players the chance of a period of euphoria and a lifetime of memories that could never be matched by scrambling through the play-offs or even winning the Championship.
Motherwell’s 1991 Scottish Cup-winning legends gathered at Fir Park the other night to mark the 25th anniversary of their triumph; similar occasions beckon in the future for this Hibs team, if they can land the glory. The greatest days in the history of most Scottish clubs are marked by cup wins, be they domestic or European. Cup winners linger long in the memory; second-tier promotion winners less so.
Let’s face it, if David Gray’s hands are on the old trophy come teatime tonight, few will care in 25 years’ time that Hibs finished third in the Championship and lost to Falkirk in the play-offs. Promotion would have made the balance sheet look healthier than a Scottish Cup triumph in the short term. However, defeating bitter rivals Rangers to land the cup they have seemed destined never to win would do wonders for the morale of everyone connected with this perennially beleaguered football club.
It would shed all the negativity which has built up, particularly over the last decade or so, while also providing a launchpad for a bright future. Even if, as seems likely, a few key men have to move on, Hibs will still start next season as title favourites. A Scottish Cup win would offer timely impetus to help them win the league and, in a year’s time, they could be looking forward to a Premiership return with the most infamous hoodoo in Scottish football firmly banished.