Hibs final: what Ryan Porteous' mum told him as the 2016 Scottish Cup success soaked in
But, the 21-year-old defender is determined to take Hibs back to another final and this time Porteous is determined to be on the pitch, playing a pivotal role in delivering more silverware rather than simply celebrating its arrival.
“I was in with the fans. I was in my final year at school so I was still only coming in part-time,” says Porteous. “I went with my mates to the game, and as a fan it was probably one of the best days of my life.
“My mum wasn’t at the game but she messaged me at full-time, before I even had a chance to get on, to say: ‘Don’t go on the pitch, you’ll get caught!’ Mums know best!”
This season, it has been virtually impossible to keep Porteous off the main stage, such has been his form. One of the first names on the team-sheet, he has played every minute of the club’s 24 Premiership games this season and contributed to a campaign that has taken the Leith side to third in the table.
International call-ups have prevented him racking up similar numbers in the Betfred Cup but now that the competition has reached the nitty-gritty stage, he is in no mood to forego his place in the line-up.
The team will turn up at Hampden this evening with the opportunity to progress to the February 28 final and only St Johnstone stand between them and that dream.
It was one that bloomed for Porteous a long time ago and has been carefully cultivated since May 21, 2016.
“It’s something I want to bring back to Hibs. Even thinking back to the League Cup win in 2007 when we won it, those were great occasions and those are things we haven’t had as regularly as we should, given our squad and size of club.
“In recent years the cup competitions have been dominated by Celtic so it’s anyone’s game with the four teams left in it and we are looking to really push on and try to make it ours.”
Porteous has watched Hibs contest enough semi-finals and finals over the years and, along with thousands of other Hibs fans, tried to roar his predecessors to victory.
That 12th man has been missing all season but the hush from the stands is even more apparent when the occasion is so big.
It is a far cry from the experiences that have whetted his football appetite. Even when Tynecastle was used as the stage for the club’s most recent last-four meeting with Saints, in the 2016 League Cup, the atmosphere proved as memorable as the outcome.
“I was there and that was a really good day. It just shows you how tough semi-finals are. We were in the Championship at the time and maybe St Johnstone were the favourites, they were a good team at the time. But it was a great occasion and it’s unfortunate the fans won’t be there this Saturday.
“But they’ll still be watching in their numbers and still be as eager to see us reach a final.”
Hibs experienced the eerie silence of an almost empty national stadium when they took on Hearts a few months ago, in last season’s postponed Scottish Cup semi-final.
“Especially in that Hearts game, in extra time, if there had been a sold-out Hampden, it would have pushed both teams on to try and win it in the later stages.
“The fans are pivotal in a lot of teams’ success and our fans have always backed us on our travels so we do miss them massively. But, we want to try to give them something to shout about at home because it has been a tough year for everyone and if we could get to a cup final by winning this game it would hopefully give them a massive lift.”
Even without the prospect of the fans’ vocal backing, there is real positivity in the Hibs squad but Porteous has been a Hibs fan long enough to guess how they will be feeling. Especially, given the favourites’ tag.
“They will probably be more nervous than positive. Listen, we’re in a fantastic position but we need to concentrate on ourselves and take it one game at a time. We can’t be looking to the final or looking to win it when we’ve got a huge game against a team who we’ve struggled to beat in the last two games.
“We need to go there full of confidence, take the game to them, impose our style on them and hopefully that will be enough.”
Nearly three years ago Porteous was a cup hero for Hibs as he and his under-20s cohorts defeated their Aberdeen counterparts to lift the Youth Cup and gave him a better idea of how it would feel to emulate the feats of 2007 and 2016 cup winning sides.
“It was massive for us. It does give you that insight as to what it could be like at first team level if you can go and get success there.
“So that’s something I have really wanted to get back to, especially at this level. Now we have an opportunity to get to a final and I am looking forward to it.”
He will be hoping the only texts waiting for him after the final whistle sounds at Hampden this time will be of the congratulatory kind.
Ryan Porteous was speaking to promote Premier Sports’ live and exclusive coverage of the Betfred Cup match Hibernian v St Johnstone on Saturday from 5pm. Premier Sports is available on Sky, Virgin TV and the Premier Player. Prices start from £9.99 per month.
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