Conrad Logan's fun run at Hibs has been real fairytale
Barely two months ago, Conrad Logan was an out-of-work goalkeeper, desperately fighting his way back to fitness after suffering an horrific injury and simply hoping that he might get a game, any kind of game, somewhere soon.
Today he’s the proud owner of a Scottish Cup winner’s medal, a Hibs legend, his name forever more written into the Easter Road club’s folklore as a member of the team which finally brought the trophy home to Leith after a wait of 114 years.
“I know, it’s crazy,” admitted the big Irishman of an astonishing few weeks which began with a surprise phone call asking if he might be fit enough to play in three weeks’ time, Hibs No.1 goalkeeper Mark Oxley having been hit with a one match ban which had ruled him out of the cup semi-final against Dundee United.
The rest, as they say, is history, Logan turning in a man-of-the-match performance on his debut at Hampden, pulling off a string of impressive saves and then capping that display by knocking aside United’s first two penalties in the shoot-out after extra-time had failed to separate the teams.
But today Logan revealed for the first time he wasn’t sure of whether or not he’d be ready for that day having only trained for a couple of days with a goalkeeping coach as he began to prepare for a comeback, a ruptured Achilles’ tendon having ended the Leicester City player’s loan spell at Rochdale at the end of 2014.
Logan, who turned 30 two days after his heroics at Hampden, said: “I did not even start jogging until February so really everything was geared towards next season, I’d been told I wouldn’t play again this season. But personally I always thought if I could play a game, a reserve game or whatever would be a great achievement.
“Otherwise it might have been July or August before I’d play again, another three or four months. I’d only trained a couple of times with a goalkeeping coach before I got a call to say there was the chance of a game in three weeks, would I be fit?
“At the time I thought probably not, but I decided to give it a go and the more I trained I felt alright. The carrot was dangled and I managed to grab it. That’s how mad it’s been.”
Logan, of course, found himself taken to the heart by every Hibs fan after his display against United earned the Capital club yet another shot at glory, one which had eluded them in ten previous Scottish Cup finals but it was only then he began to realise just what was at stake.
He said: “I knew it was a long time, but I didn’t realise it was quite that long, what it really meant to the fans. I’ve only been here a couple of months so to achieve what we have in that space of time and to top it off with winning the cup has just been unbelievable.
“I thought on a personal level that it couldn’t get much better, everything went well, it was the perfect sort of game. The fans have been brilliant, they’re a great bunch and it was nice to give them something to cheer about after the sort of seasons they’ve had.
“Most of the clubs I have been at, even on loan, I’ve had a good relationship and it’s always nice if you come into a club if you can put performances in. The fans have been different class, not just to me but everyone else all season. It would have been easy for a few heads to have gone down after the game on Friday night and not being promoted, thinking it’s going to be another year.
“But they were back on it all guns blazing over the week, they were there in their numbers at Hampden and again on Sunday.”
And, Logan admitted, he was stunned by the scenes as the open deck bus on the victory parade wound it’s way from the City Chambers to the Foot of the Walk and on to Leith Links.
He said: “When we got promoted from the Championship at Leicester two years ago the fans were out in their numbers, as a player that’s what you want to see so I’m just grateful to have done what we did and Sunday was unbelievable.
“I have seen parades and whatever, the fans lining the streets. But once we started moving the fans came with us, it was green and white everywhere. It was like the pied piper.
“I’d spoken to a few people when we came back to the ground after the final and said this was the best day – they said wait until you see tomorrow. They knew the fans were going to come out. When it started off after the civic reception you are thinking this is good but the further we went the better it got.
“I didn’t realise they were following the bus until one of the guys told me to have a look behind us, the fans were swarming after us!”
Logan revealed he had few doubts Hibs were going to win the cup although many would have thought their chance had gone when Andy Halliday put Rangers ahead, former Easter Road striker Kenny Miller having cancelled out Anthony Stokes’ third-minute strike.
He said: “When they scored their first goal I still thought we’d win because we were so far in front. When they scored again you could see people, not the players, thinking ‘here we go again’ and be resigned to that fact. But we always created chances and I think when you look at the stats of the number of chances we created compared to them you’ll see that. I did not really have a save to make. I always felt we’d get chances but when you only have ten minutes left you have to make those chances count.
“But the lads are a great bunch, great characters, nothing really fazes them and they did the business.”
Stokes hauled Hibs level with his second goal of the game before captain David Gray’s fairytale winner, Logan reckoning that his countryman’s performance could well merit a late call from the Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill for this summer’s European Championship finals.
He said: “Stokesy was class. It was his best game since I have been here by far; he scored the goals, created chances and could easily have had a hat-trick. He’s hit the post and forced their goalkeeper into a few great saves.
“As for the Euros? Why not when you finish the season like that. He will score goals, he’s a proven goalscorer.”
Logan’s arrival at Easter Road did, of course, see Oxley ousted as boss Alan Stubbs’ No.1 but, insisted the man nicknamed “Polar Bear”, Oxley had made as big a contribution as anyone to Hibs winning the cup.
He said: “Mark’s been brilliant. Goalkeepers just get on with it, you hope you will get another chance. As a goalkeeper there is only one position but Mark has contributed to this as much as anyone. He played all the games up to the semi-final.”
Logan revealed he’s uncertain as to his future – unless he was persuaded to put his name to paper in the early hours of Sunday morning as Stubbs players partied the night away, revealing he’d told his agent not to tell him if there was any interest until the final was over.
When it was put to him that Hibs fans wouldn’t let him go without a fight, he said: “I’ve literally not talked to anyone about it. I came up here to have a go for a couple of months. I haven’t spoken to the manager are or anyone else, that’s pretty much how it is.
“I’ve probably played more games than I thought I would when I came here so we’ll just have to assess things over the summer.”