LEWIS Stevenson was in short trousers when he saw Raith Rovers lift the Coca Cola League Cup in 1994. Sadly, no Hibernian supporter still alive is able to make even this claim with regard to their team’s last Scottish Cup success.
Stevenson grew up a Raith fan but today hopes to progress at the expense of his hometown team. Hibs are aiming to go one step further than their last two attempts in a competition they last won in 1902.
Stevenson also wants to give young Hibs supporters the kind of thrill he experienced when witnessing Raith’s unlikely penalty shootout success over Celtic 20 years ago. He admits these memories are “vague” but then he was only six years-old at the time.
“I used to go to a few of the games. My school was just at the back of the stadium,” he recalled yesterday. “We used to get tickets through that. I was at the cup final when they beat Celtic. That was a good Rovers team. Our goalkeeping coach Scott Thomson played for them that day. I know a few of the names and they pop up from time to time, like Danny Lennon. But I am a Hibs fan now.”
However, his partner Julia’s family remain passionate followers of Raith. As for Stevenson, he says he “still looks out for their results”. However, his loyalties run deeply enough for him to select the Raith anthem Geordie Munro as his party piece during the club’s pre-season trip last summer, although he confesses he is not word perfect.
“I used to know all the words to Geordie Munro, although I don’t know if I could belt it out now,” he said. “I have done it before though. It was actually during pre-season in Spain last summer.
“We all had to sing a song in front of everyone else and that was my one. I think I only managed the first verse – but it wasn’t the worst, there were a few worse than me. It was the only song I could think of at the time. A few of the boys before me had got up and sung football songs. And that was the only one I roughly knew the words to. So I had to go for that one.”
As for this afternoon’s clash at Easter Road, Stevenson is doing his best not to apply too much significance to a game against opponents with whom he has a close connection. He points out that his knowledge of the side he once followed is now mostly gleaned from the ex-Hearts players now at Raith, and against whom Stevenson once regularly played. “I know Fraser [Mullen] and they have a few ex-Hearts boys I have played against, Jason Thomson, Calum Elliot and Gordon Smith. They have got a good team.”
Stevenson’s current clubmate Callum Booth, meanwhile, is also in line to play for Raith this afternoon, with his loan deal containing no special clause forbidding him to play against his parent club. It is an awkward situation and Stevenson sounds sympathetic – to an extent.
Admitting he was “surprised” to learn that Booth could play against Hibs today, he added: “I wish him all the best, I just hope he doesn’t have his best game on Saturday. It’s a strange situation, although having never been on loan myself I don’t know what it’s like. But you just have to focus on your own game.
“You can’t really think you are playing against your parent club. You just have to do the best for the team you are playing for and I am sure he will. He’s a good guy and a good professional.
“By all accounts, he has done really well there this season. I have spoken to a few Rovers fans and they said he has been brilliant. So I am glad he is doing well. I just hope he is not in top form against us.”
Stevenson will have reason to catch up with another old friend before long, with Leigh Griffiths having returned to Scotland with Celtic. The teams met each other just over a fortnight ago and might not play again in the league unless Hibs make the top six. But then there is always the cup – providing both teams manage to win today. Griffiths did as much as anyone to help Hibs to last season’s final – which they lost to Celtic – and it will be strange to see the striker line up against the team he supported growing up.
“I haven’t spoken to him but a couple of the boys have,” said Stevenson of Griffiths, who could make his debut for Celtic this afternoon against Aberdeen. “You don’t need to phone him – you can keep track of his life on Twitter!”
“Fair play to him, he has done well,” he continued. “He did great for us last year and he did well for Wolves at the start of the season.
“And I hope he does well at Celtic. He’s a good guy. I think he gets a bit misinterpreted sometimes with the way he comes across. But I’m sure, with the chances Celtic create, he’ll score a lot of goals.
“I’ve said this to so many people, he was just the nicest guy at training,” he added. “You hear so many stories about him after football. But I just think wee things he does get picked up on. He’s a good guy. Everyone here hopes he does well.”