Sibbald vows to play to last whistle at Hampden

Falkirk playmaker Craig Sibbald has spoken of his desire to obtain redemption against Hibernian at Hampden as inevitable comparisons are drawn with one of the most dramatic Scottish Cup semi-finals in the competition’s history.

Craig Sibbald in Falkirk's cup semi final in 2013. Picture: SNS
Craig Sibbald in Falkirk's cup semi final in 2013. Picture: SNS

Along with midfielder Blair Alston, the prodigious teenager is one of just two survivors from the Bairns’ monumental collapse in Mount Florida two years ago, even scoring the opening goal as they raced into a 3-0 half-time lead over the Hibees.

“We were all buzzing at half-time after the great start we had, thinking we were in the final,” he recalled. Indeed, erstwhile Hibs manager Pat Fenlon appeared on borrowed time after the criminal capitulation.

Sign up to our Football newsletter

However, a turnaround of epic proportions unfolded in the second period, inspired largely by the individual brilliance of Leigh Griffiths and Alex Harris – but unquestionably aided by an inexperienced Falkirk side physically and mentally wilting. Goals by Harris, Griffiths and Eoin Doyle restored parity before a thunderous drive by Griffiths settled matters in extra time.

Sibbald concedes that the feeling of frittering away what seemed like a guaranteed place in the Scottish Cup final was the lowest point of his fledgling career, but those painful memories will drive him on when the side renew hostilities at the national stadium this weekend.

“That is as low as I have been in my career. We couldn’t believe the result in the end after the start we had,” he reflected. “The players who played in that game have been thinking about it, definitely, and we will be aiming to use that as an incentive not to get beat this time.

“We were just gutted at full-time, especially when you are so close to the final. We certainly know it’s not over until the final whistle this time! There was not much said in the dressing room after the game – it was mostly just silence. I don’t know if the problem was we thought it was done and dusted, but it was maybe the fact it was a big event and we were young.”

You could forgive Sibbald if he were sick of the sight of Hampden, given his travails as a player and a supporter. As well as their 4-3 defeat at the hands of the Hibees, Sibbald featured in the Bairns’ 3-1 League Cup semi-final loss against Celtic in 2012, and he was a fresh-faced youngster among the Falkirk fans at the 2009 Scottish Cup final, when Rangers’ Nacho Novo settled matters with a stunning half-volley from 30 yards.

“I went with my pals and my parents… it was a really good goal from Novo which won it for Rangers,” he said of that day. “Hopefully my bad luck at Hampden can change and Falkirk can finally get a win! It is what you dream of, getting to the Scottish Cup final, get a medal and hopefully lift the cup.

“I remember it was roasting that day and my face was beetroot. It [2009] was a good day out for the fans and we want to give them something to cheer for this time.”