Marvin Bartley has revealed how put his feet up and watched the Antiques Roadshow after helping Hibs clinch their place in the Scottish Cup final rather than tune in to discover who their Hampden opponents would be.
It was, he insisted, the habit of a lifetime and one even an Old Firm showdown couldn’t tempt him to miss.
Admitting he’d taken pelters from his team-mates when they discovered his odd choice of viewing, the midfielder said: “My mum Sandra used to force me to watch the Antiques Roadshow, but now I’m sitting at home at 29 wondering what I’m doing with my life that I’m putting it on myself.”
It was only later he discovered Alan Stubbs’ side would be facing Rangers on May 21, but immediately he turned to playing Football Manager on his X-Box.
“The lads have hammered me. I didn’t watch the game but then the lads said, ‘we’ve got Rangers’.
“I thought, ‘oh’, and then put Football Manager on and off I went.
“I do watch some games. If Arsenal are playing and I know someone that’s playing I’ll turn it on. But I’m not really that interested, I don’t really watch it.”
However, Hibs’ dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over Dundee United the previous day was watched avidly by the Bartley family both in England and further afield in Jamaica, where his mother and father Clement were born.
Reading-born Bartley said: “The family back in Jamaica watched the semi-final. I think there was a few of them and there was some rum punch flying around as well. They probably didn’t even know who won in the end. They were probably away with the fairies.
“One of my cousins called me and told me I could have done better in the game. He told me somebody ran past me and I told him, ‘it happens’.
“But he said it shouldn’t happen. I said, ‘you’re seven’. He’s a chirpy little one, but they watched the game and they were really proud. Now a few of them are coming over for the final and some are coming up from down south with some friends from England.
“Everyone is looking forward to that, but I need to keep grounded and concentrate on the league because we need to get promoted.”
By one of those quirks of fate which football so often throws up, the two finalists meet at Easter Road tonight in what some may see as a dress rehearsal for what’s to come.
But while he hopes the fact a win means more to Hibs than Rangers given the Ibrox club have already taken the Championship title, Bartley insisted the outcome tonight will in no way have an influence on the final.
He said: “It’s a long way away. A lot of people have been saying it was inevitable we’d meet Rangers in the final. We’ve had a few games against them already so it’ll be an interesting game. Hopefully the cup final will be the same and we’ll get the win.”
As far as tonight is concerned, Bartley pointed to the toll Sunday’s clash with Celtic may exact on Mark Warburton’s players, admitting he was “knackered” having gone through the same ordeal – extra time and penalties the day before.
He said: “They’ve won the league already, so you don’t know where they are at mentally, especially after the big game against Celtic. Their energy levels might be low for them. We’ve had 24 hours longer to get ourselves back together.
“Hopefully the fact a win tonight means more to us might work in our favour. We need to win the game. It’s that simple, really.
“We’ve put ourselves in this position where we have to win it and that’s what we need to go and do. Nothing else is good enough.”
Although Rangers took the title with something to spare, Bartley insisted there is little between the clubs, pointing to how Hibs had won last time the Glasgow outfit played at Easter Road.
He said: “I came on in that game. It was definitely one of our best performances of the season. They played well in parts of the game themselves, but to come way with the win was brilliant. Hopefully we’ll feel that again.
“Rangers have been the best team over the course of the league. Fair play to them because they’ve won it, and that’s not an easy thing to do.
“We have some respect for them for doing that, but this is another game.”
And it is another huge match for Stubbs’ players, given it is one of their two in hand over Falkirk as they attempt to overhaul the Bairns, currently six points ahead, and so take second place and ensure themselves of fewer fixtures when it comes to the promotion play-offs.
Bartley said: “It seems to be the way of the world for us at the moment, another big midweek game. Every game is massive between now and the end of the season – and you obviously have to fit the cup final into that as well. It should be a good run-in.
“If we finish third we have more games than if we finished second, so we have to deal with it as it comes, really. We’ll see where we finish in the league and take it from there.”
However, Bartley believes reaching the Scottish Cup final having made the same stage of the League Cup – the first team from the second tier and the first outwith the Old Firm to manage that feat since Aberdeen in season 1999-2000 – will have a positive effect.
But he added: “We have to put that to the back of our minds for the moment, because it’s back to the league and that’s the most important thing now.”