RYAN McGOWAN reckons that it could take years for the magnitude of the William Hill Scottish Cup final victory to sink in.
The defender scored one and set up another as Hearts hammered city rivals Hibs at Hampden on Saturday to lift the trophy for the first time in six years.
And the big Aussie admitted that he’s been left in dreamland, not only by the overall occasion at the national stadium, but also by the margin of victory.
The Jambos were two up inside half an hour and, despite Hibs pulling one back before the break, were leading 4-1 just four minutes after the restart following two goals within three minutes of each other.
Rudi Skacel’s second of the afternoon rounded off the scoring to end a day of unbelievable celebration for everyone in maroon.
And McGowan said: “Even if I dreamed about it, I don’t think it could have been much better than it actually turned out to be.
“For us to win 5-1 and for me to score a goal too, was just amazing. It is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life and it’s all about us enjoying the moment.
“When they scored they changed their formation a little bit as well and I think they probably ended the first half on top a little bit after we had dominated the opening 35 minutes or so.
“We are delighted with the way that we came out in the second half though – we knew that we would have to put them on to the back foot straight away. But to get two quick goals the way we did and for them to have a man sent off was just beautiful.”
In the build-up to the match McGowan had claimed that if his side won the Cup he would run home to Edinburgh in front of the team bus.
“I might have said that,” he laughed. “If someone had a pair of trainers I might actually have done it – even if it took me a couple of days!
“I will definitely be celebrating this for a couple of weeks and I think that this result can really spur us on for next season.”
Following a civic reception, thousands of supporters lined the route from the City Chambers to Tynecastle yesterday to watch the open-topped bus parade as the players took the trophy back to Gorgie.
The players were overwhelmed by the numbers who turned out to get a glimpse of the silverware and the majority of them filmed each other and the crowds on their mobile phones.
And McGowan admitted that the scenes, both outside Tynecastle on Saturday night and on the parade route yesterday, are something that will live with him for a very long time to come: “Everyone was really looking forward to seeing the fans at the parade and seeing how much winning the Cup means to them. Seeing so many people out celebrating like that is something that will stay with every single one of us for the rest of our lives.”
The week prior to the match was peppered with reports and grainy photographs of the last time that the two sides met in the Cup final, at Logie Green back in 1896.
And McGowan finds it difficult to believe that, in ten, 20 or even another 116 years, people will be looking back at pictures and video footage of his goal from such an historic occasion. “I arrived at the club the season after they won the Scottish Cup the last time, in 2006, and the boys who were here spoke to us about it a lot.
“My landlady is a massive Hearts fan and she has got photos and videos of the parade from the last time and it’s really weird to think that I’ll be in the pictures from this one.
“It will probably be a good few years before I look back and actually realise what we have achieved, what a big occasion this was.
“It’s been 116 years since these two sides last played together in the Scottish Cup final and if it’s another 116 years until it happens again then maybe there will be pictures of this squad in the newspapers and I will be down in the history books as someone who scored.
“I don’t think they played too badly in the first half, I just think that we played really well, to be honest.
“After we went two up we still kept pressing them, then they pulled one back and put some pressure on us.
“But everything else that happened so quickly after the break really took the wind out of their sails again.
“I think from that point on, we were 4-1 up and it allowed us to really enjoy the occasion I guess.”
McGowan was one of a number of Hearts players who were keen to praise Ian Black for the part that he has played for his side this season.
The Cup final was Black’s last game for the Tynecastle side, although the midfielder has yet to confirm where he will be heading next.
And McGowan believes that Black leaves the Jambos a more rounded and measured player, saying: “I think that he has played like that all season. He is one of these players who just keeps things ticking and I think that people tried to wind him up a few times on Saturday and maybe last season or a couple of seasons ago he would have reacted but he showed how much he has developed and he handled it well.
“He is a good mate of mine and I get along with him well off the pitch. He is a good player, first and foremost, but obviously the way things are going at the club it is going to be more about the younger boys coming through the ranks.”