Steven Notman has a score to settle with his boyhood team-mate Liam Craig – one he’s waited eight years to settle.
Notman and Craig starred for a Borders select side at Under-14 level but when their paths next crossed, it was the now Hibs skipper who came out on top, scoring Falkirk’s second goal to knock Berwick Rangers out of the Scottish Cup in January 2006.
Back then, Notman was on loan from Hibs to the Shielfield outfit but, after being released from Easter Road in 2009, he’s made Berwick his home, having now clocked up 200 games in a black and gold shirt.
He’d dearly love to mark his 201st appearance with a Scottish Cup shock which would also help ease the pain of his only return to Easter Road since his departure – a 5-0 League Cup hammering in August 2011.
The 28-year-old said: “Liam and I played a couple of times for the Borders select. I was from Innerleithen and he was from Chirnside but the last time we met in the Scottish Cup he scored Falkirk’s second goal to put us out. We went on to win the Division Three title at the end of that season.”
A return to Edinburgh proved short-lived as he was deemed surplus to requirements. Although today’s Easter Road squad bears no resemblance to that he knew – including the likes of Steven Whittaker, Scott Brown, Kevin Thomson, Garry O’Connor and Derek Riordan – Notman admits he finds it difficult to think of Hibs as a Championship team. He said: “Along with Hearts and Rangers, you kind of forget they are there. They are going well and have quality players. Obviously I know Liam, but I think Lewis Stevenson is the only player still there from my days at Hibs. It’s incredible to think he’s now their longest-serving player with more than 250 games behind him and he’s still pretty young.”
While Notman acknowledges he and his part-time team-mates face a tough 90 minutes, he believes the key to perhaps springing a surprise lies in not conceding an early goal, recalling how Martin Scott’s 11th minute opener put Berwick in early trouble in that League Cup tie three and a half years ago.
“That was my first game of the season,” he recalls. “I’d been the Standard Bearer at the Innerleithen Riding of the Marches that summer and had a lot of commitments. I’d hardly done any pre-season, only three sessions if I remember correctly, and I came on for the last half-hour with Hibs already four up.
“Losing an early goal is something we want to avoid on Sunday. We have to try to stay in the game as long as we can without conceding. Arbroath gave Hibs a wee fright in the last round by taking the lead, that’s the sort of thing we need to look to do. If we can sneak the first goal then we’d have something to hang onto. But there’s no pressure on us, it’s all on Hibs.”
If causing a shock is first prize, second would be taking Alan Stubbs’ side back to Shielfield for a replay, Berwick having eased past Albion Rovers and then Spartans at the second attempt to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 1980.
Notman said: “It was a big incentive going into the replay against Spartans knowing a trip to Easter Road was at stake.
“Obviously a win on Sunday would be fantastic but it would also be brilliant if we could take Hibs back down to Berwick for a replay. The first thing, though, is for us to enjoy the occasion, to take it all in, and then look to get the result.”