Alan Stubbs dares to dream of banishing cup hoodoo

ALAN Stubbs mentioned the dreaded “1902” before he could be asked about the last time Hibernian won the Scottish Cup. “Someone’s going to do it, whether it’s me, the next manager or the one after that,” he said. “While we’re still in the competition you can keep bringing it up… but you never know, it might be me.”

"The players have given themselves an opportunity and I feel it's one theyll grab hold of" - Alan Stubbs. Picture: Jane Barlow
"The players have given themselves an opportunity and I feel it's one theyll grab hold of" - Alan Stubbs. Picture: Jane Barlow

The manager congratulated his players for a mature performance against Berwick Rangers. “Even though we weren’t on our A game I thought we were very professional. The goals in the first half settled us down and as long as we didn’t do anything silly or lose concentration, we always looked like we would score and add to our tally. Berwick deserve a lot of credit; they can hold their heads high. Coming here was always going to be a big ask for them.

“There is the romance of the cup and while they were still in it there was an opportunity to cause a shock, but we were determined that wasn’t going to be us today.

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“There was a quality about the first two goals, a real understanding of interchanging and quick one-touch play. Maybe the last person you’d have thought would have been on the end of the second one would have been Lewis Stevenson but that’s what he’s added to his game. He has a belief and is playing more in the middle to final third and chipping in with a few goals.

"The players have given themselves an opportunity and I feel it's one theyll grab hold of" - Alan Stubbs. Picture: Jane Barlow

“He’s very much Mr Shy-Guy and you can see that from his celebrations as he doesn’t really know what to do with them. But you saw in the players’ reactions to the goal that he’s a very popular guy in the dressing-room.”

Stubbs confessed he didn’t relax until the final whistle. “I’ve been in football too long and know if you don’t do things right, you can get bitten on the bottom.”

He was, though, looking forward to a glass of wine during the semi-final draw. “By reaching the semis the players have given themselves an opportunity and I honestly feel it’s one they’ll grab hold of,” he said.

Stevenson admitted that after relegation last season, he’d been “dreading” the current campaign but said: “The manager has come in and totally lifted the place and I’ve enjoyed this season more than any other.”

Having been involved in both of Hibs’ losing finals in 2012 and the following year, he was asked which he’d prefer – promotion or that cup victory at last. “The gaffer is still making us focus on the league,” he said, “but the further you get in the cup it’s hard to take your mind off it.

“I think on our day we can match any team – even the Premiership ones still in the cup.”

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