Lewis Turner reckons Saturday, May 21, 2016 could be the best day of his life. But he’ll be doing all he can to knock Scottish Cup holders Hibs out at the first time of asking tomorrow – although he doesn’t know if he would celebrate.
The Bonnyrigg Rose midfielder is the sole Hibby in the Junior outfit’s squad, other than club physio Danielle McNaught. He’s surrounded by a team of Jambos and two Rangers fans, whom he has taken great pleasure in winding up since Hibs ended their 114-year hoodoo at Hampden Park last year.
Loanhead boy Turner watched on at Scotland’s national stadium as David Gray headed in that sensational last-minute winner against Rangers, but little did he know that he would be facing his boyhood heroes exactly eight months on and at Tynecastle of all places.
“It’s been tough [being the only Hibs fan], but not since we won the cup,” said Turner. “There’s a good bit of banter in the team because it’s pretty much all Hearts fans and there’s a couple of Rangers fans in there. I’ve had a fair bit of stick the last couple of years, but it’s been good to get my own back for the last few months – they’ve not really heard the end of it from me.
“It’s probably the second dream tie for me, I probably would’ve rather played Hearts at Tynecastle, to be honest, Being a Hibs fan I would’ve rather been the person to put Hearts out. It’s a dream come true to play against my heroes who I watched lift the cup. I’ve had the conversation where I’ve thought about whose strip I’ll get, and I wanted David Gray’s then realised he won’t be playing, so I’m gutted. Hopefully, they show us respect and field a strong team with the likes of [Lewis] Stevenson and [John] McGinn, because we want to play against the top players rather than reserves. I’ll be going for Stevenson’s strip if he’s playing, he’s probably the biggest legend at the club having won both cups and having just had his testimonial year.”
Turner’s No.1 fans, his mum Kate and dad Brian, who attend every game, will be in attendance at a sold-out Tynecastle tomorrow, with his mum a guest of honour of the club and his dad having booked into hospitality with friends for Rose’s game of a lifetime. Five of his close friends who he attended that sunny day in May with, have shunned tickets for the Hibs end, and will roar Turner and his Bonnyrigg team-mates on from the home section. It’s little things like that which will make the day extra special for the 24-year-old.
He continued: “I was at the cup final, it was probably the best day of my life that and hopefully tomorrow will come close to it. I went to the final with Stuart Roseburgh who played for Newtongrange and Bonnyrigg and a few mates from Loanhead. We got the bus through. We stopped off at a bowling club in Glasgow – I’ve probably been there more times than a pub in Bonnyrigg, but it’s not usually coming home in a great mood. It was that time.
“All my mates are probably a bit jealous, although they are really happy for me. The amount of support I’ve had from friends and family has been incredible – the amount of messages I’ve had wishing me well and wanting to go. Five of the boys I went to the final with are actually coming in the Bonnyrigg end to support us. They said they’ve seen their team lift the cup, it’s not going to get any better than that, so they are coming out to support their pal and their local team in Bonnyrigg. That’s quite a good thing for them to be doing that really.
“I was wondering what I’d do if I scored against them. It would be hard to contain my emotions if I scored against them, I think the rest of the team, dugout and fans would do the celebrating for me. It don’t think I would go too mental, it would be hard not to, but I would still be wanting to show respect to the players who I look up to and support, and the fans as well. I could imagine the heartache they’d go through if I was to score the winner against them, it wouldn’t be nice but at the end of the day that’s what I’m wanting to do and I hopefully I can do it.”
The winger, likely to play on the right of a Rose front three, looks to have won his fitness race for the fourth-round tie. He played through the pain barrier when coming on as a substitute against Newtongrange Star last weekend after sustaining a haematoma injury to his left calf in an innocuous challenge in a match against Linlithgow Rose before Christmas. There were times when he thought he wouldn’t win his fitness battle, and he will even forsake joining his team-mates for their pre-match meal to undergo acupuncture on the morning of the match, leaving their base at the Cardrona Hotel in Peebles early to ensure he’s got the best chance of playing.
“When I came off initially all I could think about was that I had broken something and I was going to miss this game,” he said. “I couldn’t walk and I was on crutches for a week. Inside the muscle, the blood vessels have all burst, it’s all hardened up, it feels solid. I’ve had acupuncture and everything for it.
“I’ll be leaving the hotel on my own to go and meet a specialist at lunchtime and I’ll be getting acupuncture and things before the game. I’m trying to do anything I can to get myself fit for the game.”
With a host of players who have played at senior level added to a mix of youngsters eager to make a step up in the game, there are also those who have never been given the chance they perhaps deserve and a match of this magnitude is a chance for Rose’s players to prove their capabilities.
Turner, who works as a plumber, is no different having come through the youth ranks at Dunfermline and Livingston without breaking into the first team before a brief spell at Berwick Rangers.
He added: “There are players in the team that will be wanting to try and prove that they are better than the standard they are playing at. It’s a big stage for everybody.
“When I was younger I played at Dunfermline and Livingston and never really got the chance when it got to the crunch time. When I went to Berwick I felt the same, I never really got a chance. This is an opportunity to show to people, not just for me, but for pretty much all of the boys in the team.
“It’s a chance to prove to people who never really believed in us or didn’t think we were good enough, to show them how good we are.”