ALAN Stubbs says he will not be haunted by the ghosts of past Hibs Scottish Cup failures when he and his team turn up at Hampden today and he hopes his players will not be daunted by them.
The club have made it to three finals in the past four years but the disappointment at being unable to convert any of those appearances into a moment to treasure is dwarfed by the misery of their 113-year trophy drought in the nation’s foremost knockout tournament. The past is something Stubbs says that the club will have to live with until they eventually win the Scottish Cup but he wants the players to shed the burden of atoning for the predecessors failures and focus on Falkirk.
“You shouldn’t fear history. It’s there in black and white, but it works both ways. History is good and bad,” said Stubbs. “You can’t just live on the glory days and not talk about the length of time it’s taken to win the Scottish Cup. It’s there, let’s go and try to do something about it. I’ve said all along, from where we came in at the fourth round, that it’s got to change, so why not this year? I know it’s taken a long time, over a hundred years for it to change, but it will change one day. I think that’s inevitable. Whether it’s while I’m here only time will tell.”
The character and mentality of his squad is still under scrutiny but the way the Hibs players bounced back from three straight defeats, which threatened to derail their league ambitions, with a win at Dumbarton and a more notable triumph over champions Hearts proves that they have some steel.
Whether it manifests itself in promotion and the most elusive of silverware will depend on how the club handles the intense pressure of the upcoming games.
“I think the players have been great, I really do, and they’ve answered questions that have been labelled at them,” added Stubbs.
“When you win games you’re great, when you lose games you’re not great and when you draw games you’re okay. That’s something as players you just have to get on with, but one thing you have to do when it’s not going the way you like it you have to be able to respond, you have to be able to keep your head above water and I feel as if the players have done that really well.
“Maybe that’s not what happened in the past but what’s gone on in the past is still labelled at the present, even though the present wasn’t anything to do with the past. As a club you have to get rid of that tag and I think slowly but surely we’re starting to do that.
“Beating Hearts sets us up well for this game but a semi-final is different. There is so much at stake and a lot more pressure involved in the game. Every player wants to get to the final. It will bring pressure, nerves, butterflies and excitement. You have to control all of that. We are playing at the national stadium and this is the worst round of the cup. You are so close, yet so far and nobody wants to be a loser come 2pm.
“We all change under pressure, that’s normal but you have to be able to still perform under pressure. We are involved in big games and we want to be but there is pressure when you’re at the top and at the bottom and I know what I’d rather be experiencing.”
Overcoming Hearts was a confidence boost, recording their first victory of the season over their capital foes. Hibs will have to produce a similar turnaround in fortunes against Falkirk to avoid the ignominy of another Scottish Cup sob story. Peter Houston’s Falkirk side currently have a winning record against the Easter Road men with a draw and two victories in the three head to heads this term.
“Anyone saying the result is a foregone conclusion is talking nonsense,” said Stubbs. “The results between us so far tell you that it will be a very tight game. Yes, on our day, if we play well, we have a good chance but Peter will be saying the same.”
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