GIVEN the disastrous events of 12 months ago, many connected with Hibs would surely be forgiven for fearing another traumatic experience when they return to Hampden for tomorrow’s Scottish Cup final with Celtic.
However, for young Alex Harris the national stadium holds only happy memories. The 18-year-old shot to prominence on the hallowed turf last month when his sparkling display in a remarkable semi-final victory against First Division Falkirk helped inspire the Easter Road side to their second final in a row. With Pat Fenlon’s struggling outfit trailing 3-0 at the interval, the wide midfielder fired in a superb strike early in the second-half to kick-start an incredible comeback that was completed by Leigh Griffiths’ stunning winner in extra-time.
Harris, a descendant of Wembley Wizard Jimmy Dunn, was named player of the round for his showing against the Bairns, and Hibs will be hopeful the teenager can reproduce the kind of trickery and pace he has so far displayed in his 13 first-team outings. And the youngster, who has also scored a try at Murrayfield playing rugby for Edinburgh Academy in the Scottish Schools Under-15s Cup, is desperate to ensure Hampden retains positive vibes for him.
He said: “I wasn’t part of the Scottish Cup final team last year, so I’ve got good memories of Hampden so far as a Hibs player and I’m looking forward to the final. I think the size of the pitch at Hampden suits me, it gives me more space to run at defenders and hopefully I can use that to my advantage in the final. Being a youngster, I think it meant it was easier for myself to deal with what happened in the semi-final, because I had less nerves. I think the pressure’s off and you just go out and enjoy it and that’s what I tried to do. We’re taught at Hibs to try to be confident in ourselves.
“We know we’ve got good ability, we just need to believe, and I certainly tried to do that during the semi-final. We had belief at 3-1. We’ve got a good bunch of lads, a close-knit team, and we certainly knew that if we kept going at Falkirk we could get there in the end. It does go through your mind that it’s not your day when Leigh missed that penalty. We kept going, though, and we got there in the end.
“It was unbelievable. I still couldn’t believe we were in that situation, even when it was happening. But we showed good spirit to get it back in the second-half. The manager will be telling us that we can’t afford another first-half like that, but we’ve had a good couple of away wins in the last few games, so hopefully that can give us good confidence for Sunday.”