Fraser Fyvie knows all too well about football’s ability to mess with emotions in the most extreme fashion imaginable.
The Aberdonian was part of a Wigan squad that went from the euphoria of winning the 2013 FA Cup to the anguish of being relegated from the English Premier League within the space of just three days.
His Hibs team now face the prospect of a similarly contorted finish to the season, as the opportunity to win the Scottish Cup for the first time in 114 years beckons just eight days after the shattering blow of having their bid for promotion to the Premiership wrecked by a play-off defeat by Falkirk.
Fyvie’s experience at Wigan, where he was an unused substitute in the shock Wembley victory over Manchester City, proves that it is possible for triumph and failure to visit a club almost simultaneously. The difficulty for Hibs is that, unlike Wigan, they must rouse themselves for Saturday’s final against Rangers having recently experienced dejection. If they can pull it off, however, Hibs know that, in contrast to the Latics, they have the possibility to sign off for the summer on the back of the ultimate high.
“We won the FA Cup on the Saturday and then got relegated away to Arsenal on the Tuesday, which wasn’t very nice,” recalls the 23-year-old midfielder. “The FA Cup experience was fantastic, a great day, great occasion. Obviously we weren’t expected to win it. Even though I never got on the pitch, it was some experience for a 20-year-old boy. But we went from the ultimate high to such a low and relegation probably took the edge off winning it a little bit. Not many people win the FA Cup, so it’s great to be able to say I was part of that. But being relegated is a horrible thing.
“It would be nice to do it the other way around here. I don’t know if winning this weekend would make up for what has happened. But it would definitely give us something to enjoy and be happy about and have a nice time with our families. You can show the medal and pictures to your kids if we are able to win it.”
Encouragingly for Fyvie, Hibs’ chances of defeating Championship rivals Rangers on Saturday are rated far stronger than Wigan’s were against a star-studded City side who finished second in the Premier League that year. “We are underdogs on Saturday but you can’t compare us to Wigan then,” he said. “Nobody gave us a chance. Everybody thought Man City were just going to turn up and win the game. But the manager [Roberto Martinez] came up with a strategy on the day that was unbelievable and it worked to a tee.
“Callum McManaman that day, that’s the best performance from a guy I have played with. I’ve never seen Gael Clichy so scared of a winger in my life, and you’re talking about a French international, a fantastic player. It was a great day and something I would love to experience again on Saturday.”
Even though he didn’t get on the pitch at Wembley, Fyvie’s winner’s medal still takes pride of place on a wall in his house. He was within seconds of being introduced to the action before Ben Watson’s stoppage-time goal gave Wigan an unlikely victory. “I was stripped and ready to go on,” said the former Aberdeen player. “The gaffer called me up, I took my top off, he went through the set pieces with me, we scored – and he just said: ‘Sit back down, son’.
“I have no idea who I was supposed to be replacing. We hadn’t even got to that point yet. As soon as we scored, I sat straight back down. It was funny, to be honest. It obviously would have been nice to get on the pitch on a great occasion like that. But the whole experience of that day was so exciting. I just hope I can enjoy it again this weekend.”
Fyvie is still waiting for his first action in a cup final after medial ligament damage caused him to miss Hibs’ League Cup final defeat by Ross County two months ago. He is likely to start this weekend, however. “I was absolutely gutted to miss that,” he said. “It was so disappointing. People always say to me, not many cup finals come to you in your career. I’ve been lucky enough to experience the FA Cup final. I wasn’t quite fit for the League Cup final. On Saturday, there is another one I can be fit for and hopefully experience a win.”
Hibs and Rangers have developed a fierce rivalry over the last two seasons as they have vied with each other to try and escape from the Championship. Fyvie is respectful of the Ibrox side’s quality but anticipates a bit of needle as the teams collide for the sixth time this term at the weekend.
“Rangers are a good side, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “They have beaten us three times this season, we have beaten them twice. Both teams are good footballing sides and we’ll both be going right at it.
“They’ll be right up for it, they have been fantastic this season, their style is great. But we’ll be looking to stop them on Saturday and hopefully we can cause an upset.
“We are probably underdogs. We’re talking about Rangers Football Club here. We’re talking about a club that’s won so many trophies over the years and had so many great players. They’re a good side now with very good players. The way they play football is great. It will be an enjoyable game. There will be a bit of toe-to-toe. The games against each other this season have had a bit of an edge to it. They’re fantastic to play in and I’m looking forward to it.”
Fyvie is likely to find himself up against Andy Halliday in the engine room. When the sides met in December, the Rangers player was sent off after being deemed to have head-butted his Hibs counterpart. However, Halliday later had his red card rescinded and Fyvie was instead punished with a two-game ban for simulation. The two players were seen locked in conversation as they left the pitch at the end of Hibs’ 3-2 win over Rangers last month. “I spoke to him after the last game at Easter Road,” he said. “It’s not something that I really want to discuss. There is not a problem between me and Andy. I said what I needed to say to him. He’s a good lad and I’ll be looking forward to playing against him on Saturday.”