Tears of joy as Hibs end 114 years of Scottish Cup agony
It was a day of tears. Supporting Hibs can sometimes feel like 'being waterboarded in your own tears' in the memorable words of Hibs fanatic and Evening News columnist Gerry Farrell in the run-up to the final.
There was plenty of crying at Hampden – but this time it was only tears of joy.
As the final whistle sounded, ending Hibs’ 114-year Scottish Cup odyssey, the full significance of what they had just seen seemed to dawn on thousands of supporters.
Grown men stood with tears falling down their face, unashamed, overcome by the emotion of the moment. For many of them, this was a moment they thought they would never see.
And they all had family and friends who had supported Hibs through thick and thin but had not lived to see them lift the famous cup.
Earlier in the day, they had travelled to Glasgow in their thousands, bedecked in green and white. Travelling more in hope than expectation.
Some had made more than just a 50-mile journey from the Capital, as fans flocked from all over the world in the hope that maybe, just maybe, this might just be the day to end the hurt.
As they took their seats, there was an almost tangible air of nervous tension amongst the 21,000 green-and-white clad supporters lucky enough to have got their hands on tickets.
Across from them sat familiar foes: this was the sixth time this season that Hibs had met Rangers. And they had plenty of reasons for optimism, having won two of their four league clashes and scoring at least twice in all but one of the previous five.
When the action finally got under way, thousands of them took a deep breath and contemplated the prospect of being just 90 minutes from glory.
They needed just four before the first mass eruption of the afternoon, as Anthony Stokes broke free on the left and placed a tidy finish into the bottom corner.
Anyone who came just for the entertainment wasn’t left disappointed. Hibs took control of the game and Jason Cummings – who told beforehand of his desire to take a winners’ medal home to show off to his Hearts-supporting brothers – spurned a great chance to double their advantage.
The 21,000 knew better, however, than to get carried away. Rangers won the Championship comfortably this season and were always going to regroup and come back strong.
And when the equaliser came, it was “one of their own” who did the damage; Kenny Miller thumping a header beyond the desperate dive of semi-final hero Conrad Logan.
Now the tension really set in. Did Hibs have it in them to recover from the setback? The fans were worried – especially after the collapse at Falkirk in their crunch promotion play-off.
For 40 minutes, nails were chewed and fingers were run through hair – and then Rangers scored again.
A hush fell over the Hibs end. Heads collapsed into hands. Younger fans looked shellshocked; older ones feared this was a movie they’d sat through before. But then, ten minutes from time, it happened. A corner was met by Stokes and Rangers’ net was rippling. It was all to play for.
As the clock ticked past the 90 mark, another 30 minutes seemed inevitable.
But then Stokes found space again and his deflected effort flashed across goal for a corner.
Hibs captain David Gray hobbled forward. Just minutes earlier, it had seemed certain his afternoon would be ended by injury. But like so many of his heroic team-mates, he refused to give up that easily.
And when the corner was delivered, it was Gray who bulldozed his way to the front of the queue, powering a header beyond the despairing dive of the Rangers keeper. In a split-second, one nod of their skipper’s head, the tears flowed and the celebrations began.
And for Hibbies everywhere, they will never really end.