In some people’s eyes the tribal warfare inspired by an Old Firm match is a relic from another time so Marvin Bartley’s decision to watch an episode of Antiques Roadshow rather than Sunday’s match perhaps makes some kind of sense.
The Hibs midfielder was clearly not desperate to find out who the Easter Road side would be playing in next month’s Scottish Cup final, claiming to have preferred watching Fiona Bruce and co examine treasured old items instead.
He later found out the identity of Hibs’ opponents from team-mates, with Rangers’ victory over Celtic meaning tonight’s league clash between Hibs and Mark Warburton’s side is a dress rehearsal for the final.
But the laidback Bartley was unconcerned whoever Hibs faced on 21 May. His own performance in Hibs’ semi-final victory over Dundee United, slightly overshadowed by on-loan goalkeeper Conrad Logan’s stunning display, suggests he has no need to worry. The midfielder was a driving force, performing with the class that would have seen him valued very highly indeed had the experts on Antiques Roadshow been asked to judge his worth.
Head coach Alan Stubbs will ask Bartley to simply repeat this performance this evening as Hibs welcome Rangers to Easter Road in a game the hosts have to win in their efforts to secure second place.
The visitors can afford to enjoy the occasion after doing the hard work against Celtic on Sunday, when the Championship title winners added a Scottish Cup final appearance to their list of achievements. But while many footballers, whoever they currently play for, were rapt by the goings on at Hampden, Bartley was refreshingly oblivious to the fixture.
“To be honest, I didn’t even watch it,” he shrugged. “I watched the Antiques Roadshow. That’s where I was at in my life. The lads have hammered me.
“I didn’t even watch the game and then I went into the [message] group and the lads said, ‘we’ve got Rangers’. I thought ‘oh’ and then I put Football Manager on and off I went. It is what it is.”
“My mum used to force me to watch Antiques Roadshow,” he added. “Now I’m sitting at home at 29 wondering what I’m doing with my life that I’m putting it on myself. That’s just where I’m at.
“I do watch some games. If Arsenal are playing and I know someone that’s playing I’ll turn it on. But I’m not really that interested, I don’t really watch it.” He isn’t the first footballer to admit to not having much interest in games that don’t affect his own club. But at least his own family tune in when he is playing, with Saturday’s semi-final, televised by both Sky Sports and the BBC, reaching Jamaica, where his parents are from.
“One of my cousins called me and told me I could have done better in the game,” he said.
“He told me somebody ran past me and I told him it happens. But he said, ‘it shouldn’t happen’.
“I said ‘you’re seven’. He’s a chirpy little one and they watched the game, and they were really proud. I think there was a few of them and there was some rum punch flying around as well. They probably didn’t even know who won in the end! They were probably away with the fairies.”
Bartley hopes a strong end of season can propel him into the Jamaica international squad for this summer’s Copa America. He has been mentioned in line with a call-up several times in the last four years but it has never happened. “I know they do have people who come over to the games in the UK as well,” he said.
“They’ve watched a few other games as well. They might fancy turning on the TV games – or they might watch the Antiques Roadshow like me!”
Bartley’s relaxed demeanour could be a valuable asset as the season reaches a nervy climax. He has already been to a play-off final in England, when with Leyton Orient. Current Hibernian team-mate Chris Dagnall missed a penalty in the League One play-off final shoot-out defeat by Rotherham United two years ago.
“We were actually winning the final 2-0 and they came back to 2-2 and then we lost it on a penalty shoot-out,” he recalled. “If I see Dags I’m going to punch him because I’ve just been reminded about that.”
Both players hope for a better outcome this season, and following Saturday’s win – when neither Bartley nor Dagnall were required to take a penalty – fortune does seem to be favouring Hibs again. Bartley was happy to have been outshone by Logan, who saved two Dundee United penalties.
“He deserved the headlines,” he said. “I told him he should have saved three of them, but that’s just me.”