Bonnyrigg Rose won’t abandon their principles against Hibs

Shaken not stirred: Robbie Horn gets his hands on the Scottish Cup
Shaken not stirred: Robbie Horn gets his hands on the Scottish Cup
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Bonnyrigg Rose boss Robbie Horn will send his players out at a sold-out Tynecastle for today’s fairytale Scottish Cup fourth-round tie against holders Hibs with the message to “play without fear”.

It was the same mantra which helped them defeat Hibs’ Championship rivals Dumbarton in their third-round replay. And despite the gulf between the two clubs, Horn has revealed he and his players have a belief that they are capable of pulling off an almighty shock.

The last word in the home changing room at Tynecastle will be left to Horn’s assistant David Burrell who’ll attempt to galvanise Rose’s players prior to walking out in front of a packed Tynecastle.

Horn said: “Usually Davie likes to give a Braveheart speech before games, the boys always have a wee giggle at his Braveheart speeches. I’ll just tell them to go and enjoy it, give it their best shot and show what they are capable of. If we do that, Hibs have an off day and we get a bit of luck, you never know. We adopted that attitude for Dumbarton and to use a James Bond phrase – never say never.”

The former Hearts player won’t abandon his principles against Neil Lennon’s side who are riding high in Scotland’s second tier. There is often a tendency for lower league clubs facing higher-ranked sides in cup competitions to disregard their footballing philosophy, stick all 11 players behind the ball and hope for a breakaway goal or a replay, but don’t think for a minute think that will be the case with Bonnyrigg this afternoon.

“It’s not really the way we’ve done things since we’ve been here,” said Horn. “It might be the case that Hibs have a lot of possession which forces us to be further back but it’s not going to be our intention to sit in and defend and make it difficult, that’s not the way we play. To try and change something now it’s going to be very difficult. I just think you’ve got to stick to what you know and the players are comfortable in the shape we normally play. We aren’t just there to enjoy the occasion, we are there to compete and there to do well.

“I don’t think there is any fear and the boys have got to go and enjoy it. They’ve got to believe they can do it, believe they can win and cause an upset and that’s exactly the same way we went into the Dumbarton game. People have said to me ‘Aw, you’ll be having sleepless nights about what you’re facing with Hibs”, that’s not the sleepless nights, sleepless nights come from having to pick a team and having to leave players out – guys that have done really well over a period of time, but you can’t play everybody. In an ideal world I’d love to stick every single one of them on the park and let them enjoy the occasion, but that’s football unfortunately. I’m nervous for the players as well because I want them to do well for themselves because I know what they are capable of and if they go and show what they are capable of we can maybe cause an upset.”

Backed by almost 5000 supporters, Rose will attempt what would go down as one of the greatest shocks in Scottish Cup history. Their players are used to playing in front of just 400 supporters at their New Dundas Park home in the East Region Super League, and with Hibs having filled their entire allocation, a crowd of around 13,000 is expected. Horn, who was assistant manager at Berwick Rangers when they faced Hibs at Easter Road in 2015, doesn’t believe for a second his players will wilt in what will be a cauldron of noise, however.

He continued: “The guys are flying and they are all looking forward to the game on a high. The group of guys that we’ve got, a lot of them are able to control their emotions as well and they’ve not got any fear. A couple of them will be a wee bit more nervous, but it’s a good thing to be nervous. I don’t think I’ll have many problems getting the boys up for the game and knowing them I think they’ll be able to deal with the occasion as well.

“I’ll be very proud to be manager of Bonnyrigg Rose in such a great stadium and in front of a big crowd on such a big occasion. I’m sure Hibs fans are really looking forward to it as well, a lot of them are Bonnyrigg fans as well as being Hibs fans.”

Horn, who is a senior property valuer with Hunters Residential, is sweating on the fitness of three of his players for the match. Captain Jonny Stewart and Ross Archibald are both struggling to shake off hamstring injuries, while Lewis Turner was undergoing acupuncture treatment this morning to help alleviate the pain from a haematoma injury. He will allow them time to prove they are fit before finalising his starting 11.

He said: “It’s going to be last-minute calls. I’m absolutely gutted for all of them, that they are in this position at this moment in time. Jonny and Lewis have been big players for us over the past 18 months and Archie has obviously been around the club a long time. I felt gutted for him but he’s getting treatment and we’ll see how he is. Whatever happens, these guys will be involved – everyone will be stripped which is a great thing.”

The last word in the home changing room at Tynecastle will be left to Horn’s assistant David Burrell who’ll attempt to galvanise Rose’s players prior to walking out in front of a packed Tynecastle.

He added: “Usually Davie likes to give a Braveheart speech before games, the boys always have a wee giggle at his Braveheart speeches. I’ll just tell them to go and enjoy it, give it their best shot and show what they are capable of. If we do that, Hibs have an off day and we get a bit of luck, you never know. We adopted that attitude for Dumbarton and to use a James Bond phrase – never say never.”