Hearts host Celtic and Hibs wrap up their regular Championship season at Easter Road tomorrow against Queen of the South, but the most significant game involving a Capital club this weekend arguably takes place today at Meadowbank.
Edinburgh City go in to their SPFL Pyramid Play-Off second leg against Cove Rangers with a healthy 3-0 lead, and will face East Stirlingshire in a potentially historic two-legged final unless the improbable happens.
Today’s lunchtime clash at Tynecastle is unlikely to prevent Celtic eventually winning the Premiership title while the Jambos secured third place and European football weeks ago. With Hibs just to determine when and not if they enter the Championship play-offs, City v Cove could be Edinburgh’s game of the weekend.
“There’s certainly an argument to be made by us for game of the day!” laughed City chairman Jim Lumsden. “There’ll maybe some Hibs fans saying they’ve got a pretty important game as well though. I’m just looking forward to the game – we’re pretty excited. I’ll get nervous during the game but you try and keep yourself calm before it so you can make sure everything is prepared off the park and I’m sure Gary [Jardine] will have everything done on his side.”
Being sandwiched between proceedings in Gorgie and Lochend means Lumsden is hopeful fans of Auld Reekie’s big two will head along to Meadowbank after or before their own respective fixtures. “I certainly hope it’ll drum up some interest,” he said. “We had 900 last year against Brora so hopefully we’ll get a similar crowd to that or more. You just never know, if it’s a nice day people might decide to come out.
“We’ve kept our prices the same as normal. We didn’t want it to look like we were trying to cash in on the game; I always think that doesn’t look good so we’ve just stuck to our normal £5 and £2. I think Cove have a couple of buses coming. I spoke to their supporters’ guy last week and he said they had a bus filled and they were hoping to fill a second.”
Most outwith City will assume fans of the Highland League champions travel more in hope than expectation, but Lumsden is taking nothing for granted. “They’ll still think they’re in the tie – if they get the first goal then anything can happen,” he cautioned. “Any side that’s won the Highland League is a top side so you take them lightly at your peril.
“We knew what to expect this time. Last year was the first time there’d ever been play-off matches and we were delighted to host the first ever one at Meadowbank. This year it’s been different – we’re more prepared for it and the determination after losing on penalties certainly helped us last week, but tomorrow is another game.”
Although he supported Meadowbank Thistle before they became Livingston, Lumsden wouldn’t attach any extra significance if City were to become Edinburgh’s next league club more than two decades later. “The Meadowbank fan in me says ‘aye, magic!’ but the chairman in me says it’s all about Edinburgh City. That was 20 years ago so the focus is on being City now. Representing the Lowland League is a big thing for us – not just the league but the whole ethos of the pyramid system, and it’s important to us that we represent that well.
“I remember watching my first City home game at Fernieside Park so it’s amazing to think that 19 years ago this club was playing on a public park, sharing with Tollcross United. It’s been a long journey.”