Hibs' Ryan Porteous: 'She’s probably going to be a bag of nerves, walking about the house and doing any sort of housework'

The one upside of playing in an empty Hampden this afternoon is that Ryan Porteous’ mum Jill will be able to get on with doing his ironing.

While the Hibs centre-back will be focusing on a clean sheet, sweeping up silverware and polishing off a successful season for the Easter Road club, his mum will be occupying herself with housework as she struggles to keep the big-game jitters at bay.

Stressed enough when she is able to attend matches, she is apparently a ball of anxiety when she is forced to watch games on television and tends to seek out distractions.

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“Obviously, I’m not there but I can just imagine her. She’s probably going to be a bag of nerves, walking about the house and doing any sort of housework or ironing just to keep out of the way of the TV,” said the 22 year-old.

Hopes that his parents would be able to travel through to the national stadium for this afternoon’s Scottish Cup final were raised but then quickly dashed last week when the limited supply of tickets that had been signed off were quickly withdrawn as covid restrictions were tightened in Glasgow.

It means that Porteous can expect a very different atmosphere than the one he experienced when Hibs last contested a final, five years ago, and he took his place among around 21,000 fellow exuberant fans as the club won the trophy for the first time in 114 years.

That day his mum was most worried about him joining the swell of support that washed onto the pitch at full-time, moving swiftly to text him a warning to stay put.

Now, although he has permission to be on that turf, he says she will be just as concerned by his antics.

Hibs defender Ryan Porteous celebrates after he scored the winning penalty in the Scottish Cup quarter-final triumph over Motherwell. Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group

Keeping her fingers crossed for a straightforward win, she certainly doesn’t want another mistake like the wayward clearance that saw her laddie gift St Johnstone the winner in their last league head-to-head, but neither does she require a repeat of the quarter-final penalty heroics, where the young defender stepped up to score the decisive spot-kick in the shoot-out.

“She said that when I took the penalty she just had to get up and walk away until she heard my dad celebrating.

‘I probably don’t help with the way I play sometimes if she can’t watch! But, listen, I just wish they could be there. It’s a shame but we’re in strange times just now so we can’t complain too much.”

Strange times, indeed, as this Hibs squad look to transport the club back to the heady days of the 1950s by producing the most successful season since the Leith side actually won the top league.

This term’s top-three finish, a semi-final spot in the League Cup and the a cup final place in the Scottish already amounts to a more than decent return, but no-one at the club is happy to settle for just that, not when they could walk away with a trophy, medals and the associated slice of history to show for their endeavours.

And not when they have already been denied so much.

With no fans in Easter Road all season, there is the possibility that colleagues such as Kevin Nisbet, Josh Doig and Jackson Irvine could all walk away from Hibs this summer having never experienced a minute of first-team action in front of the club’s grateful fans.

Because of the pandemic, in one of their most memorable campaigns, the entire squad’s been denied the in-person support they hoped for when they signed for the Leith side and were immediately overwhelmed by videos of the 2016 cup final and the bus tour and celebrations that followed.

“I had a game for the Under-17s that day so it was a quick rush to play the game at the training centre and then get up to the parade with one of the other boys in the team. We caught it coming down Leith Walk so that was a great memory.

“I don’t think we even had time for a shower. It was a case of kit on and right up to the parade because we were going to miss it.

‘I’m actually surprised we still played that day. It was a mad day and one I look back on really fondly – getting up there that late but still managing to catch the celebrations. It was brilliant.”

Without that backing or that incentive, the current players have still found different ways to win games, relying on some pretty miserly defensive performances in the first half of the season, weathering a wobble at the turn of the year and then wrapping things up in a flurry of goals as the front three players exploded into action during the run in.

More mature, more streetwise, buoyed by belief and determined to get the better of an opposition that has proved problematic this season, Porteous says they cannot allow the absence of the green and white army to take any of the shine off the day.

“The highs and lows of Hibs, we’ve seen it all over the years. It’s never easy being a Hibs fan,” said the diehard, who graduated through the academy and has emerged as a real leader this term, focused on sparing those who follow the club any more anguish.

“I think this season it’s been fantastic and if the Hibs fans were here I’m sure they would’ve really appreciated the hard work and good performances we put in to get us to Hampden four times this season.

“I can only imagine what it would be like as a fan to go to Hampden four times in one season! Obviously, they’ve not all been good. But now we’ve put ourselves in a position to achieve success and bring silverware to the club. So, that’s our goal, our ambition – we want to bring the Scottish Cup back.”

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