Danny Handling doesn’t hold the best of records when it comes to past endeavours at the national stadium.
However, he is determined to ensure he leaves Hampden tomorrow having helped extend Edinburgh City’s winning streak to seven games.
The Capital outfit are two points clear at the summit of Ladbrokes League Two having amassed 15 points from a possible 18, their only blemish in the league a 1-0 defeat at Elgin City last month.
But for many of James McDonaugh’s squad, this weekend’s visit to play Queen’s Park will be their first taste of the home of Scottish football. For former Hibs attacker Handling, though, it’s familiar territory having been involved in the latter stages of cup competitions during a six-year career with his former employers at Easter Road.
“I’ve been at Hampden three times with Hibs for cup finals,” the 24-year-old explained. “The only one I didn’t get on the pitch was the one we went on to win against Rangers! I was in the squad that day but didn’t make the bench, which was disappointing. But winning the Scottish Cup is something I will treasure for the rest of my life.
“The other two finals I came off the bench and we lost both. The League Cup final against Ross County (2016) was difficult to take because they scored with the winner with the last kick of the game and before that was the Scottish Cup final against Celtic in 2013, when we lost 3-0.
“So, it will be good to actually get a start this time if I’m picked.”
Getting minutes under his belt hasn’t been an issue for Handling, who has started all 12 of City’s league and cup fixtures so far this term. He is enjoying his run in a side that isn’t short on confidence – irrespective of who they are playing.
“It’s been so far so good and very enjoyable to play in,” Handling said. “The signings the gaffer has made speaks for themselves really. It’s started well so long may it continue. We’ve had some very hard games so far and we’ve managed to come out on top, which can only help us going forward. It’s a long hard season but if we continue to do what we’re doing then there’s no reason why we can’t continue this run.
“If we didn’t finish in the top four then I think it would be a disappointment, and that’s not just down to the start we have had. Even if we were sitting here without a point I’d still be saying the same given the squad we have. The manager has put a lot of faith in us and it’s paying off.
“From the first day I’ve been taken aback with how professional the club is run. We train at Riccarton, which is just a fantastic facility, we’ve got great training gear, good strips and we’re really well looked after. It’s a really happy place to be at the moment. I think if Edinburgh City are to get up the leagues then they’d be a very attractive proposition for a lot of players.”
One aspect of Handling’s game that is a bone of contention is that he is still to get on the scoresheet this season.
“At this stage I’d take a goal anywhere, even in training!” he quipped. “I’ve been playing that No.10 role for a few seasons now so I’m enjoying it. I want to get on the ball as much as possible and run the game. The players around me understand what I am about but I need to start scoring more goals and hopefully given time that will happen.
“This is the first year I’ve had a full pre-season as I’ve usually broken down with an injury so I feel good.”