Darren McGregor has revealed he was caught by surprise when he bumped into Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh as he came out of the toilet at the East Mains training centre.
Welsh, back in Edinburgh for the premiere of T2 Trainspotting, was invited to meet the Hibs squad by boss Neil Lennon, who had been among the guests at the first screening of the long-awaited sequel to the 1996 movie.
And McGregor, a huge fan of the original ground-breaking film, wished he had been given a bit of notice, giving him the chance to have the life-long Hibs fan sign some of his memorabilia. “I only got 20 seconds with him because so many people wanted to speak to him,” said McGregor. “I bumped into him as I was coming out of the toilet so I really just had a chance to ask him how he was.
“I’m a big fan of Trainspotting. He’s a legend in my eyes. I think everyone knows of him, the work he had done. He’s Edinburgh born and bred and he’s a massive success story.
“It was the first time I’d met him, though. The gaffer, lucky him, was at the premiere on Sunday night and asked him if he wanted to come down to East Mains.
“The gaffer showed him around, introduced him to the players and then he watched us training. I watched Trainspotting again just the other night, it was on Channel Four last week and I’d recorded it, and I’m planning to go to see the new one next week with a few mates.
“There was also a really good Trainspotting show on at the Festival that I went to see last year, a theatre production.
“Irvine’s visit seemed to be a last-minute thing but I wish I’d known he was coming as I’d have brought along some memorabilia and got him to sign it.”
All in all, it’s been quite a week for McGregor. He was chosen to lead Hibs out for the first time as they began their defence of the Scottish Cup against East Super League champions Bonnyrigg Rose at Tynecastle, the 8-1 victory leading to the mouth-watering prospect of a repeat of last season’s fifth-round against Capital rivals Hearts, again in Gorgie.
Hearts’ replay win against Raith Rovers set the clock running with next month’s clash set to dominate all football talk from now until then.
But, while admitting facing the Jambos once again will be at the back of his mind, the big defender insisted the only game occupying the thoughts of Lennon and his players is tomorrow’s Championship match against Queen of the South.
He said: “We know how tough cup games can be and Raith pushed them all the way. But fair play to Hearts, they dug out a good result and now we have a game we’ll all look forward to.
“We’ve got a couple of games before then, though, but it is going to be a massive match for both clubs.
“We haven’t talked about it too much, to be honest. We’ve been too preoccupied with Saturday in Dumfries, that’s the game that’s taking our full attention.
“Of course, the Hearts game will be at the back of our minds, but that’s where it will stay for the moment.”
Will it, though, be possible to ignore the inevitable hype which will intensify almost by the day until then?
“Of course it is,” retorted McGregor. “Promotion is our priority so Queen of the South takes precedence. As we’ve seen before, you go into games you are perfectly capable of winning but if there is an element of complacency or of taking the foot off the pedal, then you can lose and we are well aware of that.
“We are well aware they are on a god run and have players who can hurt you.”
Among that number McGregor lists former Easter Road team-mate Dan Carmichael, back at Queens after a year in Edinburgh which was marred by persistent injury.
McGregor said: “The season before I came here when I was at Rangers I thought Dan was one of the best players in the league. He’s very skilful, quick and good with both feet so we know of his attributes.
“He never quite got the rub of the green while he was here, but I’m sure he will be happy to come up against us and show us what we missed.”
Having hit a slump of 12 league matches without a win, the Dumfries outfit have steaded under new manager Gary Naysmith and have now lost just one of their last seven games.
But, insisted McGregor, Hibs have what’s needed to maintain or even extend their six-point cushion at the top of the table, pointing to the strength in depth which allowed Lennon to give a number of players a much-needed run-out against Bonnyrigg without weakening the team.
He said: “We’ll be giving Queens the full respect and attention they deserve but I’m adamant we have a squad that’s capable of winning and continuing to build on the run we are on. But it’s strange how football works. There was a stage not so long ago that Dundee United were in front of us and it could have gone to four points, it could have gone to seven points.
“However, our resilience and hard work means we’ve managed to create that little buffer between us. But that can disappear quickly.
“We are tuned into that. The gaffer had the luxury last week to change the shape and personnel, guys came in and did well having been waiting their chance which adds even more of an edge to training.”
The absence last weekend of skipper David Gray through suspension and fellow centre back Paul Hanlon, his vice-captain, because of injury saw Lennon hand the captain’s armband to McGregor, the former Arniston Rangers player admitting he was thrilled to be given the chance to lead the team out.
The Hibs-daft 31-year-old said: “I didn’t know until just before kick-off. I thought maybe someone like Lewis Stevenson, Grant Holt or Liam Fontaine might be given it so I was delighted to be given the nod.
“From a personal point of view, it was probably one of the proudest days of my career. Davie is captain and does a great job but for me having that armband will live long in my memory and one I’ll treasure.
“It’s another one to tick off the bucket list. The very thought a few years ago that I would captain Hibs at Tynecastle would have been unbelievable.
“If Davie and Paul want to take a weekend off now and again, I’ll be happy to fill in.
“It’s been a great week but I’d love to cap it of with a win in Dumfries. We want to keep our run going, to keep that wee buffer between us and United and, depending what happens, possibly even make it bigger.”