HIBS may be some way behind their city rivals in terms of Scottish Cup pedigree, but when it comes to possessing a man who has scored the winner in an all-capital city cup final, the Easter Road side certainly hold the ace in the pack.
Step forward, Garry O’Connor. On 27 May, 2007, the Edinburgh-born forward wrote himself into Russian football folklore when he stepped off the bench to score an extra-time winner for Lokomotiv Moscow against city rivals Spartak in the cup final.
O’Connor earned a lucrative move from Hibs to Lokomotiv in 2006 and, although he found life tough during his 15 months in the Russian capital, that goal ensures he will always be fondly regarded by Loko supporters.
In front of around 45,000 people – not far short of the crowd expected at Hampden tomorrow – O’Connor entered the fray at the Luzhniki Stadium just after the hour with the match still goalless. His team-mates that day included current Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic and Diniyar Biliyaletdinov, formerly of Everton, but it would be the man from Port Seton who would grab the glory as he broke the deadlock with a close-range finish 12 minutes into extra time.
It proved by far the highlight of his 33 appearances in Moscow, where his alleged penchant for the city’s nightlife appeared to rile some of his team-mates, with Bilyaletdinov saying: “Garry had a very good time in Russia without putting too much effort into his football. He liked to relax by going out and in Moscow there are more restaurants and nightclubs than in the whole of Scotland. Garry behaved as if he wanted to show us all, ‘I came from the country where football was invented so I understand it much better than you do’. I wish he played as good a game as he talked.”
If O’Connor nets the winner tomorrow, there will be no such sniping from his team-mates.