Even in Majorca, David Gray couldn’t escape mass Hibsteria

David Gray
David Gray
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David Gray and his wife jetted off to Majorca to get away from the ecstatic chaos his dramatic last-minute header to clinch Hibs’ historic Scottish Cup win had caused in Edinburgh.

David Gray and his wife jetted off to Majorca to get away from the ecstatic chaos his dramatic last-minute header to clinch Hibs’ historic Scottish Cup win had caused in Edinburgh.

Gray celebrates his winner at Hampden last May

Gray celebrates his winner at Hampden last May

But, as the Easter Road skipper was to discover, there was nowhere to hide as he found himself ambushed by an over-emotional Hibs fan as he and his family took an early evening stroll.

“Hayley was heavily pregnant with our son Archie so a couple of days after the final we flew out to Majorca,” he recalled.

“I wanted to take myself away from all the hype. I was catching up on social media on all the things that were going on back home and Hayley said to me ‘I’m glad we’re here cos I would never see you’.

“About ten minutes later, we were walking through this quiet street, we’d just been somewhere to eat and were walking along.

“I was pushing our daughter Ivy in her pram when this big drunk Scotsman ran up 
and jumped on my back. I got quite a fright, thinking ‘what’s going on here?’ It was the initial shock of a man jumping on my back just out of the blue in Majorca.

“He was a Hibby. I think he’d been sitting in a terraced area outside a restaurant when he saw me.

“I don’t think he had actually been to the game. I think he had been there on holiday and missed it but his son had been at Hampden.

“I had a little chat with him. I can’t remember his name and I’ve not seen him since. If I saw him again, I might be concerned!”

Gray admitted he still continues to be reminded of the enormity of what he and his team-mates achieved last May 21 on a daily basis, the club’s “Persevered Tour” having just come to an end having visited 250 different venues including 114 schools, allowing some 53,000 people to get up close to the world’s oldest football trophy.

Seeing fans sporting tattoos of his face is, he admits, is rather strange. “Some of them look homemade. You see stuff on social media and it’s hard to take in.

“I don’t know how I feel about my face being tattooed on legs – it’s quite strange, to be honest. In one way, it’s very flattering that somebody is very proud of what we achieved as a group. We finally managed to get over the line and put that hoodoo to bed.”

As captain and scorer of that winner against Rangers, Gray inevitably finds himself the centre of attraction, describing every single day since then as “fantastic”.

He said: “The day itself obviously takes a bit of beating. Just the whole weekend after that as well, spending it with family and friends and seeing what it has meant to the club.

“I obviously get a lot more attention and it’s nice to hear stories, of people coming up to you and saying ‘my dad has been going to Hibs games for years and he never thought he’d see the day’ and others coming up and thanking you.

“All that is very humbling from my point of view. But I think I’ll appreciate it more once I finish my career when I have time to reflect on it and think back to it.”

The positive impact of finally ridding themselves of their Scottish Cup jinx is there for all to see, a feelgood factor which has attracted a near record number of season-ticket holders, the win also giving Gray and a number of his team-mates their first taste of European football with Archie born just the day before the first leg of their Europa League tie with Danish outfit Brondby.

However, as much as he enjoyed – and is still enjoying – those moments, Gray insisted his focus is now on retaining the cup although he’s equally adamant promotion at the third time of asking over-rides everything else.

Gray will make a belated bow in this year’s competition, a one-match ban imposed after he picked up his second booking of last season’s tournament as he, understandably, rushed into the Hibs support to celebrate his winning goal, meaning he sat out the 8-1 victory over Bonnyrigg Rose in the previous round.

Revealing cup final referee Steven McLean was almost apologetic at having to brandish the yellow card, Gray said: “It was difficult watching that game at Tynecastle, especially when you feel a wee bit hard done by.

“But, if I had the same decision to make again, I think I’d have done the same thing. I had to take it on the chin and I’m really looking forward to this one.

“The ref said to me ‘you know I need to do this, I’m sorry about it’. I said to him ‘no problem mate’.

“I didn’t twig what it would mean. To be honest, I didn’t even know the rules. It wasn’t until I came back this season that I realised it carried over, the two yellow cards.”

As fate would have it, the fifth round takes Hibs back to Tynecastle tomorrow, the venue for last year’s stunning fightback from two goals down against Hearts with ten minutes to play to force a replay, a feat which many believe paved the way to cup glory.

But, while admitting Neil Lennon’s players go into the match as underdogs, Gray insisted there’s no reason why they can’t enjoy a repeat tomorrow.

He said: “Hearts being at home probably makes them the favourites, and we’re happy with that. We know we are capable of beating anyone on our day.

“The objective is to get promoted and we know we need to do it this year, but it took us 114 years to win the Scottish Cup and to go and to win it twice ... just imagine. That’s at the forefront of our minds and we’ll apply ourselves to go and do that.”

Asked if there is a gulf between the Capital clubs, Gray replied: “It’s a difficult one because they’re in the Premiership and we’re in the Championship.

“They’re doing what we want to be doing. We want to be challenging in the top half of the Premiership and I think we are good enough to do that.

“It’s up to other people to say what the gulf is, but we know on our day, we’re pretty much a match for anybody. We’re only worried about ourselves and if anybody wants to compare us that’s up to them.”

Hibs are likely to field more players with experience of the Edinburgh derby given the recent influx at Tynecastle, but Gray believes that won’t have any bearing on the match.

He said: “I think we were in a situation during my first couple of derbies when we had six or seven lads who had never played in an Edinburgh derby. It’s one of those things, you either thrive on it or you don’t.

“I’m sure the players they have brought in are experienced players who have played in derbies elsewhere.

“You can’t be taking anything for granted, that’s for sure.”