Hibs’ Billy Brown out to make history

Billy Brown
Billy Brown
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BILLY BROWN admitted today that he would love to enter the record books as the only person to win the Scottish Cup with both Hearts and Hibs.

But the Easter Road assistant manager insisted that his side can’t afford to look any further forward than the last-four clash with Aberdeen tomorrow.

Brown won the trophy with Hearts back in 1998 thanks to a victory over Rangers at Hampden and is hoping that he can repeat that feat this season alongside Pat Fenlon.

Hibs haven’t lifted the trophy since 1902 so, if he does complete the double he will be the first in history to do so.

He acknowledged that would be a magnificent achievement and said: “When you consider that Hibs haven’t won the cup since 1902, it would be a pretty rare achievement if it was to happen. It would be great for me if that were to happen – and I hope that it does happen – but firstly we have got the semi- final to deal with and it’s great to be involved in a game of this magnitude. It is a big game for the club and it’s a great chance for us to get to a cup final.

“Obviously Aberdeen will feel the same but we have got to just concentrate on ourselves and do our best to make sure that we get the right result.

“I have been to two Scottish cup finals already so here’s hoping that we can make it three.

“The first one, back in 1996, we lost to Rangers but we were back at Hampden two years later against Rangers again and that time we won it.

“It was a fantastic occasion to be involved with and it’s something that I will remember for a long time. I was really chuffed to be part of the side that day and obviously it’s something that I would love to experience again.”

While just a few years ago it may have been unthinkable for Brown to be part of the management team at Easter Road, he has made it across the Edinburgh divide with relative ease.

Brown conceded that even he would have laughed if he’d been told that he would be plying his trade at Hibs but, now that he’s there, is looking forward to ending the season on a high note: “I was with Hearts for a number of years and had a degree of success there so I have to admit I had thought that a move to Hibs was something that maybe wouldn’t happen.

“But the chance came up for me to join the club and I had attachments to Hibs already and it was an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down.

“I’ve enjoyed being here and if we can avoid relegation, plus get to the cup final then it has been a really good year for us and a really rewarding time for me.”

Brown has heard supporters saying that they would take relegation if it meant winning the Scottish Cup and ending their hoodoo.

But you won’t find Brown accepting the drop in order to lift some silverware.

He insisted that securing their SPL future must be the priority and that any success in the cup should be viewed as a very welcome bonus.

He continued: “Retaining your SPL status is what you set out to do at the beginning of the season and for me that is still the most important thing.

“It would be a major, major disaster for Hibs if we were to be relegated. When Jim and I went to Falkirk and got them into the SPL, unfortunately we were then relegated but we went straight back up again. It’s not something that I want to have to go through again.

“I am not of the opinion that you can accept one without the other. That doesn’t diminish the effort that we will put into trying to win the cup though.

“I think everyone knows the history that Hibs have had with the cup and you can’t get away from the fact that our record in the competition has been so poor.

“We’ll be putting everything that we’ve got into the last few games of the season and hopefully get a good outcome in both competitions.”

Meanwhile, Fenlon believes that his players won’t need much motivating when it comes to kick-off.

“You are hopeful, when you come into semi-finals, that you have less to do as a manager.

“You’ve still got to organise the team, give them the information they need about the opposition and how we’re going to play. But, when it comes to what’s at stake and the prize on offer, players should be up to speed with that themselves.

“It can affect players in different ways, though, so we have to make sure they play the game, rather than playing the occasion.

“We have to make sure they don’t play it all out before the game kicks off, so that everybody’s got the energy to go and play.

“That’s really important in semi-finals, particularly, that you treat it like a game, that’s all.

“And it only really matters if you win it.

“I’ve seen some young players who have played the game the night before, probably more so with cup finals.

“They get so intense about it that it affects them, drains them.

“We’ve got the players from after training on Friday, so we will take them away, keep them calm and keep them focused.”

While Fenlon is delighted to have reached the semis, having only joined the club as manager in November, he insisted that the credit for the cup run has to go to the players who have been connected to the club for a longer period:

“Personally it is rewarding but I’ve only been here a short period of time, so it’s more rewarding for the folk who have been here for years.

“It is nice, though, to have that at the end of the season. It would be a nice reward for everybody’s hard work.

“But it only matters if you win. You can enjoy occasions like this when you look back on your career, say: ‘Well, I got to Hampden’.

“On the day, it’s a horrible place to be if you don’t win a semi-final. We will only enjoy it if we win and get to the final.”

Adding of the club’s hopes or ending their 110-year drought in the competition, he added: “The good thing about it is I’ve only been here five months, so it’s not something that has been hammered into me.

“No, it’s not my fault – not yet. That might change on Saturday!

“But, seriously, it’s a plus for me. Because I know, from talking to everyone at the club, it’s an issue. I’m not steeped in the history or traditions of the club, so that expectation hasn’t hit me as much.

“It’s my first go at the Scottish Cup, we’ve reached a semi-final. Let’s kick on and reach the final, that would be a good start.”