Why Hibs beating St Johnstone would mean more to Martin Boyle than 2016 Scottish Cup heroics
A unused substitute when Hibs made history five years ago, while the likes of David Gray was unofficially knighted for his mammoth contribution, Martin Boyle became part of the club’s Scottish Cup folklore for the way he celebrated the victory for days on end.
This time around, he is more than the party animal in the pack – for a start, wife Rachael has moved swiftly to stymie any thoughts of a repeat performance – this time around he is one of the main men.
Arguably the club’s most influential player in a season that has already delivered Europe and their first third place finish in 16 years, he is the talismanic speedster, who can drive fear and panic into the hearts of any defenders unfortunate enough to be suffering an off day and many of those who aren’t.
With 15 goals and 12 assists, in an attacking sense the 28-year-old has been devastating on the right wing and posed just as many problems when utilised up front. But it is his overall workrate, and greater maturity and willingness to track back that has helped his game evolve and helped Hibs over the line.
A useful outlet when the team need to relieve pressure, he has added an ability to sense danger, turn on the afterburners and get back to help his defence, demonstrated perfectly in the dying minutes of the recent head-to-head with Aberdeen.
Which is why most observers believe that when Boyle turns it on, Hibs, more often than not, deliver.
Which is why, with more appearances than any of his team-mates across all competitions this term, if Hibs lift silverware on Saturday to sign off one of the club’s best season’s ever and their most successful since at least the 1950s, Boyle will be one of the main reasons why.
“Having played all the games and contributed goals and assists, having the chance to play in the final and hopefully lift the cup would mean everything to me.
“Being a part of the team in 2016 was not the same. Being on the bench you don’t get the plaudits and feel you are a bit left out but at the same time I do have the medal.
“This time round I have contributed in all the games and have played my part so, hopefully, I can do the same on Saturday, that would mean everything.”
A season like no other, as well as the collective difficulties associated with the covid pandemic, there have also been personal travails after his dad Graeme suffered a stroke at the turn of the year, prompting Boyle to miss a match against Rangers after he rushed to his dad’s side.
Dealing with that anguish was unsettling but has served to reinforce the bubbly Hibs star’s determination to make the most of the good times when they come along.
“He is back to work in the office a few days a week so it is like there is nothing wrong with him. He is like me, he’s a little energy bunny, so he needs to just calm down and relax a bit but he always has a smile on his face and he always tells me to enjoy everything I have and keep going.
“It has been an up and down season and it was difficult. To have all that happening was difficult and I haven't felt emotions like that before. I know my dad is proud of me and what I have contributed this season. I am sure he will be phoning me on Friday night just to tell me that it’s just one more game and to give it everything I’ve got and that he is proud. Hopefully I can bring another medal home and get my hands on that trophy.”
And, another winners’ bauble would help his standing at home, where daughter Amelia is a hard taskmaster when it comes to making goal demands and his wife, Rachael, a successful footballer in her own right, currently outshines him in the medal count.
With over 30 caps for Scotland the midfielder also represents Hibs.
“We are a footballing family and love it. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
“That’s just what we were brought up doing. Thankfully we are in the position where we both play for the same club and are both doing quite well. Long may that continue.
“But Rachael has two Scottish Cup winners medals... that puts a lot of pressure on me!
“We can be competitive but at the same time we are just proud of each other's achievements. She has so many more medals and caps than me that I can’t compete!”
Having cheered her on as she lifted silverware, the only disappointment is that neither his wife, daughter or father will be allowed into Hampden to witness him equaling her Scottish Cup haul.
But, having seen Hibs’ improvement he is hoping that this term’s success can be consistently replicated in coming seasons, allowing the club to assert their capital dominance just as rivals Hearts return to the top flight.
“It would be nice to have the bragging rights. There are two big clubs in Edinburgh and both have big supports and Hearts deserve to be back in the league but I just think we have gone to another level, season by season getting better, clinching third and semi finals and now the cup final and if we lift a trophy then it would be arguably one of the best in Hibs’ history, which would be great for one half of the city.”
And, if that happens it might be difficult for Boyle to completely shrug off the urge to party like it’s 2016!