Stewart Devine went wild when a last-minute winner from Hibs striker Garry O’Connor sank Hearts at Easter Road in August 2003, but tomorrow afternoon the Bo’ness United left back will be doing his best to stop his hero scoring in the William Hill Scottish Cup first round.
Super League champions Bo’ness were rewarded for last season’s first-place finish with a trip to the Scottish Borders to take on Lowland League side Selkirk at Yarrow Park – and it’s one Devine has eagerly anticipated since the draw was made on August 19th.
For lifetime Hibee Devine, the chance to go head-to-head with one of his heroes is a dream come true, but it won’t be the first time they’ve faced each other on the pitch.
Devine played a couple of friendlies against Hibs when he was at Stirling Albion earlier in his career and knows too well the threat O’Connor will pose tomorrow, although he has stressed they won’t be a one-man team. “I’ve played against him in a closed-door game and in a couple of friendlies when I was at Stirling Albion. He’s a strong, physical player and hard to play against. It will be good to come up against him again,” said Devine.
“Watching Hibs every week he was certainly a player to look out for. He’s obviously had a bit of stick with the weight he has put on, but with playing for Hibs for so long and going to Russia, he’s not going to lose his ability.
“It’s obviously not just about him though. He scored four goals last Saturday so he’ll be worth keeping an eye on, but I think they’ll have a few players to watch for.”
Both aged 31 and born just six days apart, their careers couldn’t have been more different, yet they both find themselves playing at a level not too dissimilar now.
O’Connor made his debut at 18 in the SPL back in 2001, while Devine was part of a Binos side which went 17 games without a win in the Second Division and finished rock bottom of the table.
Devine went on to remain at Albion in 2010 before moving to Stranraer, while O’Connor had amassed 16 Scotland caps in that time and had progressed from the SPL to the Russian Premier League with Lokomotiv Moscow before returning to the UK with then-English Premier League side Birmingham City.
Despite having to keep an ex-Scotland international striker in check tomorrow afternoon, Devine is confident Bo’ness have enough firepower to worry their hosts and is positive they can come away with a result.
He said: “We know it’s going to be a hard game, it’s not going to be a walk in the park and we are going to have to work hard for the win if we are going to get it. We’ve just got to concentrate on our game and if we turn up on the day we’ll be confident of getting a result.”
And backed by a large travelling support, with eight official Bo’ness buses set to make the trip, Devine knows the Newtown Park faithful will help to create a good atmosphere in what is expected to attract a bumper crowd.
“The fans have been brilliant, we’ll take a big away support down there and they’ll create a big atmosphere.”
Devine has struggled with the flu for the past week, and missed last weekend’s narrow win over Luncarty in the East of Scotland Cup, but is hopeful of being back tomorrow.
He is confident that Bo’ness can get a decent run in the Scottish this year, and it’s not hard to believe who he’d like to face if they can make it to the fourth round. “To get Hibs at Easter Road or Hearts at Tynecastle would be the dream draw, and to score a winning goal in the last minute – I’d hang up my boots after that!”
Manager Allan McGonigal has a full squad to choose from with Mark Peat (goalkeeper), Stuart Hunter and Andy Scott returning after being on holiday last weekend, while Robert Sloan is nearing full fitness after getting 90 minutes under his belt last Saturday.