Hearts fan’s 24-hour cup dash from Florida and back

NO Hearts fan wants to be marooned on Cup final day –but one Jambo’s efforts to take his seat at Hampden bring a whole new meaning to the term “flying visit”.

Friday, 4th May 2012, 1:00 pm

Fanatic Allen Perriss is jetting from the sunny climes of Florida to Mount Florida, Glasgow, for a whirlwind 24-hour dash to catch the Scottish Cup Final.

The 45-year-old is breaking ranks from a family holiday in Orlando to cheer on his heroes before almost immediately shooting off to catch a flight back across the Atlantic.

The 8000-mile round trip was shoe-horned into his two-week break just hours after Craig Beattie’s last-gasp penalty against Celtic set up the first all-Edinburgh cup final for more than a century.

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“I thought early in the season that we had no chance of getting to the Scottish Cup Final and booked a holiday for my family and neighbour’s family for mid-May,” he said,

Those plans for a relaxing foreign escape were scuppered the moment on-loan striker Beattie buried that spot-kick.

“I wasn’t wanting to get beat but I wouldn’t have been so upset because I knew we were going away,” said Mr Perriss.

“When that penalty was given against Celtic in the last minute of the semi-finals I was thinking, ‘He’s bound to miss this’.

“I was supporting them 100 per cent but there was a moment where I thought, ‘Craig Beattie could end up costing me a lot of money’ – I was always going to come back for a Hearts vs Hibs Cup Final. So when he scored I was delighted, but then came the realisation that it was going to cost me.”

The father-of-two from Baberton, whose devotion to Hearts led him to replace a family portrait above the mantel- piece with a signed shirt by Rudi Skacel, has been a regular at Tynecastle for more than 30 years, and said his attendance at Hampden on May 19 was a no-brainer.

“I couldn’t not go. It’s something fundamental within – like being there for the birth of your kids,” he said. “A Cup Final against Hibs is a different ball game, it’s the biggest derby we have ever had. I’m not too bothered if we play a good game as long as we win.” And he quipped: “Of course, my missus is absolutely delighted. We are booked in to swim with dolphins that weekend, which is supposed to be a highlight of the holiday, so I’m missing that as well.”

With flights costing £700 – on top of the thousands already spent on the family vacation – Allen said he was prepared to take the financial hit to watch Hearts lift the cup against their greatest rivals. But what if they lose? “I will be a bit hacked off but I’m not thinking about that right now,” he said. “No doubt my Hibs-supporting mates would have a wee bit of a laugh at my expense.

“There will be time for reflection on the flight on the way home – a bit of time to sort out my priorities.

“Problem is that there is going to be free drink on the plane back to the US. My wife is worried I might not make my connections.”