If fate had taken a different turn, Ewan Moyes could have been lining up for Hibs against Bonnyrigg Rose on Saturday in their William Hill Scottish Cup fourth-round tie at Tynecastle.
The Perth-born defender – who now plies his trade for the Midlothian Junior outfit – was a fixture of the Hibs under-19 side which became the first in the Easter Road club’s history to lift the SPL Youth League and Youth Cup in the same season back in 2009. The centre back played 111 minutes at Hampden as Hibs won the cup for the first time since 1992 in extra-time with a last-gasp Kurtis Byrne strike in a 2-1 win over Rangers.
Moyes signed professional terms with the Easter Road club when he was 18 under then boss Mixu Paatelainen and was on the verge of a first-team call up when injury struck. Paatelainen was soon replaced by John Hughes and while youth team-mate Paul Hanlon was playing regularly in the first team, Moyes was farmed out on loan and never got the opportunity to make his mark.
Loan spells at Livingston, Arbroath and Brechin City allowed him to gain first-team experience before he was released from his contract in the summer of 2011 and spent a short time with Gateshead. He then returned to Brechin for two years and had subsequent spells at East Fife and Montrose before he arrived at New Dundas Park in 2015, establishing himself as a key part of the Bonnyrigg side which won last season’s East Super League title.
“My time at Hibs was brilliant, I really enjoyed it and the club were good to me,” said the 26-year-old.
“Winning the youth cup was brilliant, we were the first team to do that outside Celtic for a long time. It was a great place to be, the new training ground at East Mains had just opened when I was there and the facilities were really good. It was a really good time I had, it was just unfortunate I couldn’t stay longer.
“I was training with the first team for two years then I was out on loan. I was part of the squad and when Mixu was there I was probably going to get involved, I was supposed to be on the bench against Hearts, then I got injured. He said I’d get plenty more chances next year and then John Hughes came in.
“Hughes came in and he didn’t really fancy me to be honest so I spent much of my time out on loan, he never gave me a shot to be fair. It was just one of those things, he never gave me shot and I went out on loan to get some experience at the time, which was a good thing for me.”
Moyes, who works as a managing consultant in Edinburgh for recruitment firm Search Consultancy, couldn’t have wished for a better tie. The opportunity to face his former club at the home of the team he supports, where he had a season ticket with dad from the ages of 5-17 is the opportunity of a lifetime. He might have to settle for a place on the bench though – joking that he’ll come on to preserve their lead against Neil Lennon’s men – with defenders Kerr Young and Dean Hoskins having been manager Robbie Horn’s favoured partnership so far this season.
“I’m delighted to get the chance to play against them,” said Moyes. “It’s the best tie possible for me.
“I played at Ibrox before in front of 50,000, but this game will be probably be the biggest ever for me. I’m a Hearts fan as well, my dad Derek took me to games from when I was a boy. I was a season ticket holder until I signed that first team contract at Hibs, then I had to give it up. Once I started getting towards the end of the youth team, I had to stop going, it was fine to go when I was younger.
“I’ve not been starting recently, so I’m hoping to get back in. I think I’ll have a part to play at some point if I don’t start depending on how the game pans out. Hopefully we are winning and I’ll come on to hold the lead.
“I came on against Dumbarton in the last ten minutes to shore things up after taking the lead and to put an extra man in defence. Hopefully that’s the case on Saturday when we’ve got a 1-0 lead. We are all going to enjoy it and it’s going to be a great occasion for everybody involved. You don’t get many chances like this and we’ll all be ready to grab it.
“I’m hoping to start, but it’s one of these ones where I’ve been out and Kerr and Dean have been doing really well. It’s been frustrating, that’s what the manager has said – he’s wanting to play me. Without being big-headed, I would probably walk in to any other team in the Super League at centre half, it’s just we’ve got three really good centre halves. It’s about the team and there’s a long way to go in the league after the excitement of this game, there’s a lot of fixtures to catch up on so I’ll have a big part to play and I’m hoping to sign on for next season.”
Bonnyrigg are 25/1 with one bookie to upset the holders this weekend, which if they were to do so would surely rank up there with one of the greatest Scottish Cup shocks of all time – a similar feat to that of Berwick Rangers back in 1967 with a first-round 1-0 defeat of Rangers.
Moyes and his Bonnyrigg team-mates are no stranger to shocks, however. Having upset the odds to dispose of Hibs’ Championship rivals Dumbarton in the previous round after a replay, they hold no fear going into Saturday’s tie. Moyes was also a part of the Brechin side which came within a whisker of reaching the semi-finals, drawing 2-2 with St Johnstone at Glebe Park in their last-eight before being edged out 1-0 in the replay.
Moyes added: “We’re massive underdogs, we know it will be a difficult test playing against a team like Hibs. They’ll have a strong team out, they’ll want to win it and they’ll be taking no chances I’m sure.
“It’s the Scottish Cup and when I was with Brechin at St Johnstone we almost got to the semi-finals and I know upsets can happen – it’s the fairytale of the Scottish Cup.
“It will be a different game to the Dumbarton match, with a bigger crowd and bigger pitch. Although they only beat Dumbarton by the same scoreline same as us, Dumbarton have gone on a bit of a run since they played us.
“We’ve got boys that have played in front of big crowds before so I don’t think it will faze us. I don’t see it fazing anyone to be honest, I think we’ll just grab it and try to make the most of it.
“We’ve got a cracking group of boys in there, we’ve done really well to get to where we are. We’ll go out and play confidently, we’ll be attacking, we’re not going to sit back, we are going to try and play to an extent. I think we’ll play our usual formation and we’ll give it a go and see what happens. The pressure is on Hibs, not us.
“I think Dumbarton took us lightly and we hope Hibs will too. We are confident going into it, we’ll raise our game, it’s a cup final for us.”