Jason Cummings: Backing me against Rangers like printing money
Jason Cummings’ goal on Wednesday night was only to be expected given his scoring record against Rangers.
The 20-year-old striker has netted eight goals in two seasons in head-to-heads with the Ibrox side but he says he would trade them all for some silverware and a winning goal the next time the two teams meet up.
That meeting is scheduled for next month’s Scottish Cup final, Hibernian’s latest attempt to end the 114-year stretch without success in the nation’s principal knockout tournament.
“I’d love to be a winner in the cup final. I’d trade my left arm for that,” said Cummings. “It would be special to do that, especially with the history at Hibs. It will be a massive occasion for the club.”
If Cummings and his team-mates could get the better of Mark Warburton’s men once more, and exit Hampden with the Scottish Cup, he knows they would be instantly elevated to club legends.
“It is a massive occasion for Hibs and it would be unbelievable if we were the team to win the cup. We would go down in the history books. All the boys are aware of it so I think we’ll get an extra 10 per cent. The fans will be giving us an extra 5 per cent as well.
“I’m just happy to be part of it. Hopefully I’m playing, first of all. And hopefully I can make an impact on the game somehow. I don’t know what it is against Rangers, I just love a goal against them.
“Maybe it is because of the fans and the fact it’s usually a sell-out. That gets me a wee bit more motivated. I just always seem to pop up with a goal. I think that is eight in ten games against them. I’m happy with that. I wish I could play them every week.
“I do say to everyone to get me on first goal [at the bookies]. It’s free money. The odds are getting slashed every week I’m played against Rangers because it’s like printing money! I do get tweeted by a lot of people who have me on first goal and because I have scored quite a few first goals this season, I think a few people have made a few quid off me!”
The Easter Road goalscorer, who has scored 24 goals in 42 appearances this season, to back up his 21 from last term, is one of four nominees for the PFA Scotland Championship Player of the Year, alongside team-mate John McGinn and Rangers’ Lee Wallace and Martyn Waghorn.
But before all the season’s honours, medals and trophies are handed out, Cummings says there is still a lot of work to be done. Rangers have already won the Petrofac Cup and clinched the Championship title but Hibs, who are still hopeful they can join them in the Premiership next term courtesy of the play-offs, have not ruled out foiling the Ibrox club’s hopes of a treble and ensuring they finish their own season on a massive high.
“The win on Wednesday night was massive, beating a good Rangers team,” said Cummings. “They were in a good place coming off a good win against Celtic, so to beat them gives the boys massive confidence going into the last few games and then the play-offs. We also have to play them again in the cup final so that’s another boost.”
He said he only had to scroll through his Twitter feed in the wake of Saturday’s semi-final to be reminded how obsessed the Hibs fans are with the competition.
A gallus attempt at a Panenka-style penalty in the first half of that Hampden semi, by a player who revels in the audacious, proved too much for many of his followers as the ball cleared the bar. But in typical Cummings style, he had the guts and the self-belief to step up and lash home the decisive spot-kick in the penalty shoot-out.
“I got blamed last week. The amount of abuse I got when I missed that pen... I think everyone had me for first goal.
“What was my Twitter like after the semi? If I scrolled down to the bottom it was just abuse, abuse. If I scrolled up a bit it was starting to get a bit better. ‘He’d redeemed himself a wee bit’, ‘Well done, lad’ and this and that. At least it went up.”
But he said he always backed himself to take one of the penalties and even tried to work it so it would be the winning strike. He even swithered about having another stab at the Panenka.
“I was thinking about chipping it again but I’d look an absolute fool if it didn’t go in. I think the keeper was thinking I was going to go down the middle because I don’t think he moved. I just thought that if I opened up when taking it, I’d be safe. I just wanted to hit the target. When it went in, the sigh of relief I got was incredible.
“I was wanting to take the winning penalty, so the fourth or fifth. I was thinking that [penalty shoot outs are] normally 4-2. On [computer game] FIFA, it’s normally 4-2 anyway. So I kind of took my guidelines from that and I thought ‘I’m going to take the fourth here – it could be a chance to win it’. It just fell perfectly for me. It was fate, just fate.”
l The PFA Scotland Players of the Year will be announced at the Annual Awards at the Hilton Hotel, Glasgow on Sunday, 1 May.