They should have been the worst of enemies, but instead Hibs star Ben Williams and Motherwell striker Michael Higdon ended up the best of pals.
Former Manchester United goalkeeper Williams and Liverpool-born Higdon played together at Crewe Alexandra and although there’s a deep-rooted rivalry between those hailing from the North West of England’s two great cities, they hit it off.
The pair haven’t come across each other since those days but when they meet again for the first time at Fir Park tonight, the old animosity which separates Mancs and Scousers will come into play – but only for 90 minutes.
Williams said: “Mike and I were at Crewe together for a couple of years when he was a young lad having come through the ranks. Mancs and Scousers aren’t supposed to like each other but I got on really well with him. We got on fine, we had a laugh together.”
The joking, however, will have to wait until the final whistle with both set on the serious business of gathering precious points for their respective sides, Williams promising neither will expect anything less from the other.
He said: “It’s like when I played against Scott Vernon [a team-mate at Colchester United] at Aberdeen the other week. You are always going to play against friends, relatives even, but as a professional you go out to win no matter what, then, at the end, you shake hands, catch up and have a laugh.”
Williams is well aware Higdon has become what he describes as a “talismanic” figure for Motherwell, the burly hitman boasting a record of a goal almost every second game with seven to his name already this season.
He said: “It seems that when Higgy plays well Motherwell play well. He has an important role in the team. He probably wasn’t as prolific at Crewe because he didn’t get enough time on the pitch but different teams play different ways and play to players’ strengths, and it’s paying dividends for Motherwell.”
Although admitting he wouldn’t mind too much if Higdon were to score tonight provided Hibs win, Williams insisted: “I’d rather he was quiet and I had a clean sheet, so I’d take a 1-0 win.”