Lewis Stevenson can’t watch cup final – in case Rangers win

Lewis Stevenson joins fans as he celebrates the end of the Preserved Scottish Cup Trophy Tour at the Hibs Supportera' Club
Lewis Stevenson joins fans as he celebrates the end of the Preserved Scottish Cup Trophy Tour at the Hibs Supportera' Club
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Eight months on and Lewis Stevenson can’t bring himself to watch a re-run of Hibs’ historic Scottish Cup triumph – for fear of seeing himself end up on the losing side once again.

And to this day, he revealed, there are still mornings when he wakes up and thinks: “Did that really happen?”

Lewis Stevenson has been pleased to participate in the Persevered Tour, hoping some of the starry-eyed kids will become Hibs fans

Lewis Stevenson has been pleased to participate in the Persevered Tour, hoping some of the starry-eyed kids will become Hibs fans

Of course, it did, skipper David Gray’s last-minute header ending the Easter Road outfit’s 114-year hoodoo and celebrations which still continue, Hibs “Persevered Tour” having caught the imagination with the original intention of taking the trophy out to different locations to mark each of those 114 years easily surpassed.

As the tour wraps up this week, 250 visits have been made to a wide-ranging audience, the last couple of outings making it 114 schools alone.

The boy from Kirkcaldy himself has accompanied the cup to several primary schools in Fife to see the excitement a glimpse of the silverware can generate, claiming it might even encourage some of the youngsters to become Hibs fans. He said: “I’ve been done quite a few – not quite 250 – with Sue McLernon [Hibs community engagement officer] and Jim Greechan [the club’s liaison officer]. They are the real stars behind it, the driving force who have kept it going.

“It’s brilliant what they are doing. Sue gives a great talk and, at the schools I was at, the kids were loving it.

“I know what it’s like being at a school assembly when kids are usually like . . . but everyone was totally engaged and asking questions.

“Obviously, there are Hibs fans who have loved to see the cup and even non-Hibs fans as well. I’m sure if I was at school and wasn’t sure who to support, if Hibs came and gave me the opportunity to see the cup it would sway my decision.

“It’s good to branch out for the future. The kids have loved it. At your age, when you see a cup, it’s just a cup, but for the kids it looks amazing. But, to be fair, there’s a few Hibs fans who are still like that when they see it.”

Having suffered heartache in the Scottish Cup finals of 2012 and the following year, Stevenson insisted he didn’t start believing Hibs could win it until referee Steven McLean blew the final whistle on their 3-2 defeat of Rangers.

He said: “I never thought we’d win it. I know I’m not supposed to say that and it’s about being positive. But because I’ve been there so many times before I didn’t want to make myself think about winning it because I’ve done that before and I knew how bad it was when you don’t win it.”

Stevenson admitted he had those thoughts before the 2012 final, the hurt still such he can’t bring himself to mention the name of Capital rivals Hearts, claiming: “I hate bringing it up, but that was probably the time. The squad we had last season was by far stronger than the squad we had then. Even the Celtic one [the following year], we kind of went into that with no pressure but Celtic probably had the better team and were probably going to win.

“But even when people were saying ‘I think you have got a chance’. Against Rangers I never quite believed it. We’d played them six or seven times so we knew each other inside out. It was going to be tight and I never wanted to imagine what it would be like to win it because I knew how bad it would be tasting defeat.”

Joking that Gray has probably watched his moment of glory 100 times over – something he’d have done himself if he’d scored the winner – Stevenson has resisted doing so.

He said: “I’ve honestly never watched it from start to finish. If I watched it I’d still be hyper-critical of myself in the game. I have seen the aftermath of the final whistle – it’s a bit easier than the game itself. I still think I’d feel the pressure of the game even though we eventually did win it.”

Does his refusal to watch the DVD which has been snapped up by thousands of Hibs fans arise from the fact he still doesn’t feel as if the enormity of what he was part of has yet to hit home? “In case I lose, aye,” he admitted, “I hate watching myself on the telly and it’s probably to do with that. My wee boy Louie has watched it a few times; I’ve just poked in and out.

“He loves it and I’m sure I’ll have plenty of times to cherish that moment. But I don’t think it will quite sink in until I retire from football, the achievement and how much it means to everyone in the days that followed. Everything that went with it was amazing.”

Now Hibs face the potential banana skin of Bonnyrigg although, having been part of the Hibs side which defeated another Junior club, Irvine Meadow, at the same stage seven years ago, Stevenson is well aware of the dangers that await Lennon’s players .

He said: “I remember the build-up to that game. John Hughes was the manager and he let us know it would be a tough game. Some of these Junior teams pay good money – it’s not like people playing off the street. Irvine were of a good standard, they brought two or three thousand fans that day.

“I saw a few Junior games when I was younger in Fife and it’s a good standard. I don’t think there would be much difference between a top Junior team and some of the lower league teams in Scotland.

“Bonnyrigg put Dumbarton out in the last round and they’ve beaten Dundee United and Falkirk since then. So we know they are a good team playing at a good level. There’s a few players I recognise from my pro-youth days and players I knew from when I was younger. There’s a boy Fraser McLaren playing for them. He used to play in the Scotland youth teams when I was playing. He was a good player.

“It’s a fine balance between being professional footballers and not. They’ll be a good standard, I’m sure. They’ll have a point to prove. They’ll want to enjoy it.”