Elgin City manager Gavin Price hopes to party like it’s 1999 as he takes his team to Easter Road in search of another Scottish Cup upset.
Twenty years ago, Price was playing for Stirling Albion when they pulled off a shock 2-1 win over Alex McLeish’s First Division leaders in a fourth-round replay at Forthbank after a 1-1 draw in Leith. Indeed the Binos, then of the old Second Division (third tier), were within 14 minutes of winning the first match in the Capital before Paul Lovering’s late equaliser. Former Hibs player Chris Jackson scored Stirling’s winner in the replay after Russel Latapy had cancelled out David McCallum’s opener for the hosts.
Price will take inspiration from that triumph – one of the most memorable of his playing career – as he bids to mastermind an unlikely victory for City in Edinburgh. “You can upset the odds,” Price told the Evening News. “I did it myself with Stirling Albion as a player. We drew 1-1 at Easter Road and then went back and won at Forthbank. That Hibs team had guys like (Mixu) Paatelainen and Latapy in it. It’s obviously a different era and different circumstances now but that shows what’s possible if you apply yourselves properly. It shows that if you catch a big team on a bad day, strange things can happen. There’s no foregone conclusion in football. We’re certainly not going there to sit back and expect defeat. We’ll be going to give it our best shot, defend for our lives and try and frustrate Hibs. We’ll have chances in the match so we need to hope that when they come along we get a bit of luck or have someone who can come up with a bit of magic.”
Price is hoping being part of such an exciting occasion can breathe new life into Elgin’s League Two campaign. City have lost each of their last three matches and have lost seven of their last nine in the league, slipping into the bottom half of the division at a time when they intended to be mounting a promotion push. Everyone at Borough Briggs knows victory on Saturday is a long shot, but a performance which makes life difficult for their Premiership hosts will go a long way to restoring optimism.
“It’s a big occasion for the players and the club,” said Price, who played for Meadowbank Thistle in the 1993/94 season. “It’s a break from the league and it’s something the players can look forward to. Results haven’t been going too well and we’ve been losing too many goals so hopefully this gives us a chance to regroup a bit, focus on something else and hopefully get things right. We’ll do our best to keep ourselves in the game and hopefully give a good account of ourselves. We need something to change for us and it could be that a positive performance against Hibs is what we need. Hopefully the players naturally get a lift from the occasion and we can use that to spur us on in the league.”
Price knows his team face a formidable test but he is hopeful that they won’t be forced to spend the entire match camped in their own half. “They’re three leagues above us, they’re a full-time team, so it’s pretty much as big a test as we could face,” said Price, who replaced Jim Weir as Elgin manager in October 2017. “We know what we’re going to be up against but at the end of the day it’s 11 against 11. We’ve got players in our team who have played at a reasonable level and have got a bit of experience so hopefully they can help the younger ones through it. There’s also a bit of determination in them as well - they’ll want to give a good account of themselves. We’ve got to approach it sensibly but at the same time there’s no point in sitting back for 90 minutes. We want to try and express ourselves as well because we’ve got players that can do that. We’ve got players with pace. We’ll have to treat the game sensibly or we could be in trouble but when the time’s right, I’d like to think we can have a bit of a go as well.”
Price admits it is difficult to anticipate what team Hibs manager Neil Lennon will select since the Easter Road side haven’t played for three weeks. “We got a chance to see them a few times before the winter break but it’s hard to say what team they’ll put out because a few players have left, they’ve had injuries and Ryan Gauld’s come in,” said Price. “It’s exciting to see Ryan back in Scotland after a few years away so hopefully that will bring a few more Hibs supporters along and add to the atmosphere on the day. Whatever 11 they put out, it’s going to be tough. We’ll prepare as best we can and try and keep them at bay as long as we can.”