St Johnstone's Callum Booth on being a 'diluted' Hibs fan as he prepares to face boyhood club in Scottish Cup final

Hibs have always loomed large in the life of Callum Booth.

St Johnstone's Callum Booth (left) is tackled by St Mirren's Jake Doyle-Hayes during the Perth club's Scottish Cup semi-final victory over St Mirren that now sees only old club Hibs stand in the McDiarmid Park side's way of an historic double. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

It was maybe fated then that he should face them down in the mother of all games in his career – a Scottish Cup final on Saturday that presents the St Johnstone wing-back with the opportunity to become a member of what would be arguably the most remarkable cup double winning side in this country’s annals. It is the father of all games in his youth that can be considered to have ignited a passion that resulted in Hibs becoming the launchpad his career. “Me and my dad were season ticket holders and used to go home and away to see Hibs. I wouldn’t say I’m a Hibs fan at the moment because when you start playing professionally it changes quite a lot. My dad is but not as much as he used to be. He now follows my career. We have diluted our support over the years.”

Plenty - even the player himself - might have thought his trophy-winning prospects would have been diluted when it didn’t work out for him at Easter Road, despite another double - of league and cup - for the under-19s before his senior debut a decade ago. His time in Leith headed south under Pat Fenlon. There is no sense of the cup final offering him the chance of some sort of slapdown for the need to move to Partick Thistle in 2015. By then, his time at Hibs had been punctured by a series of loan spells. He doesn’t dwell on those downsides, though, which later gave way to a spell with Dundee United, before he pitched up in Perth two years ago.

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“I was a teenage boy who would go to Hibs games with my dad so it’s a bit crazy to think I’m now going to be playing them in a cup final,” said Booth, who now resides in Haddington, only 10 minutes from Hibs’ training ground. “[But] I don’t really think about [it not working out] too much. I grew up a Hibs fan, I’m local, so to play for Hibs 50 times was great and I enjoyed being there.

“There are no hard feelings or regrets, it was a good time breaking through. These things happen in football, I was there for years and enjoyed it, but different managers have different opinions. Professional football takes you different places so I moved on, that’s the way it is. Thankfully I have managed to have a not bad career since leaving there.”

Adding a Scottish Cup medal to the League Cup badge he earned in February would make for the zenith of that career. And with Hibs stature and financial muscle eclipsing the Perth side, he knows the position they will find themselves in at Hampden can work for his team.

“I certainly feel at a bigger club like Hibs there is more pressure. So I hope we can use that to our advantage,” he said. “I’ve seen both sides of it. We put pressure on ourselves here but the build-up has been relaxed. They are favourites to win it, they are expected to win it - and that’s good for us. We enjoy being the underdogs, that’s where we like to be.”

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