Danny Grainger recalls miners club celebrations after 2012 Hearts triumph
Partying with hundreds of Hearts fans at the Woodburn Miners Club in Dalkeith reinforced the significance of the 2012 Scottish Cup win for Danny Grainger. He is now looking to generate some lasting memories of his own after retiring from playing at Carlisle United to take charge at nearby Workington AFC.
First, Grainger will be at Hampden Park on Saturday cheering Hearts on against Celtic in this year’s Scottish Cup final. He is about to embark on his first managerial job in England’s non-leagues at the age of 32, so visiting the scene of his greatest triumph should provide plenty inspiration.
The left-back scored a convincing penalty to put Hearts 3-1 ahead in their 2012 final win against Hibs. The eventual 5-1 scoreline was the biggest result in Tynecastle history. After a euphoric trophy parade through the streets of Edinburgh the following day, coach Gary Locke took Grainger and another goalscorer, Ryan McGowan, along to his local supporters’ club in Midlothian.
You can imagine the welcome. “We had a great team spirit with lads like [Andy] Driver, Gowser, Webby [Andy Webster] and all the rest. It showed in how we celebrated,” said Grainger.
“After the parade on the Sunday, Lockie took myself and Gowser along to the Woodburn Club. There were 400 or 500 Hearts fans just partying together and it was great for me and Gowser to get involved in that as well. I really enjoyed it and I realised how much it meant to all of them.”
Memories of the game and his goal will forever be prominent in the Englishman’s mind. He also recalled some lesser-known anecdotes for the Evening News. He roomed with striker Craig Beattie in the team hotel the night before that final.
“It was my first cup final as a player. On the morning of the game, Beats is sitting there with a bathrobe on and his feet up telling me to make him a cup of tea. Things like that stick in my mind,” said Grainger.
“I remember Blackie being sick as a dog before the final, Lockie running around telling everyone ‘we can’t lose this game’ because he wouldn’t be allowed back in Bonnyrigg if we did.
“I am coming up on Saturday for this final. I’m going into one of the hospitality suites in Glasgow and I can’t wait. I know not a lot of people will fancy Hearts. Not a lot of people fancied us in the 2012 semi-final but we beat Celtic that day. I honestly do believe Hearts can finish the season with silverware.”
At the back of his mind, he is already planning a rebuild at Workington for next season. Grainger is young to be stepping out of the dressing room and into a manager’s office. He just felt it was time.
“I wanted to make sure my kids and wife were happy. Also, I didn’t want to leave Carlisle to go and play elsewhere. I don’t know if they would have offered me another contract or not. It just felt the right time for me to call it a day. I am young but I’ve had 17 years at it. I’m 33 in July and if somebody had offered me that I’d have snapped their hand off. I’m over the moon.
“I was hoping something would come up and when I saw the opportunity to get involved with a local team, it made sense. I want to do management and coaching part-time to start with because I have my own academy and I don’t want that to take a back seat. This gives me a chance to do both.”
He played under countless managers in his career at Gretna, Brechin City, Dundee United, St Johnstone, Hearts, St Mirren, Dunfermline and Carlisle. One figurehead Grainger will draw on is the man who oversaw that 2012 Scottish Cup triumph.
“Everything about Paulo Sergio’s attitude to players and coaches was fantastic. He is one of the managers I will take a lot from. I’ve been quite lucky to learn from a few but I respect Paulo very highly,” he explained.
“I won a few divisions with Gretna but that Scottish Cup final in 2012 was like a fairytale with the way everything happened. It’s what young kids dream off. You can’t put into words the feelings during the build-up and in the celebrations afterwards. If I get anywhere near achieving anything like that as a coach, I’ll be very proud.”