Liam Craig’s Falkirk employee wife to avoid semi

LAURA Craig will have split loyalties tomorrow as her husband goes head to head with her employers when Hibs take on Falkirk in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden.

Hibs' Liam Craig. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Hibs' Liam Craig. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

But rather than face an uncomfortable afternoon she will bodyswerve the national stadium and treat herself to some fun on a girlie weekend instead.

“It’s a great club with a lot of good people,” Hibs captain Liam Craig said of Falkirk, his former team. “My wife Laura works at the club so I need to be careful with what I say. I still live in the area as well so there is a connection there. Come Saturday it’s all about getting Hibs to the cup final and if I play I’ll be looking to do that.”

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He joked that his wife would be delighted to return to a happy husband and a win bonus.

Hibs' Liam Craig. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

“She’s on a hen party so she’s not that bothered – convenient eh!” said the Hibs club captain. “She is away up north with all her pals this weekend. She said she would not watch the game either. The fact she works at a football club and she gets a day off – the last thing she wants to do is watch the game. She’ll probably take very little interest apart from the fact that I’ll still be moaning on Sunday and all next week if we don’t win the game.”

The wedding of Laura’s pal Lee is scheduled for cup final day, which means that his wife could also miss out on the Hampden showpiece on 30 May. The Hibs midfielder would prefer to miss out on the wedding. He is hoping that the Edinburgh club can seal another shot at winning the trophy which has eluded them since 1902, content that his wife, whom he met during his two-year stint at Falkirk, will not be there to jinx them.

“I don’t think Laura has seen Hibs score yet and she’s been to a few games. I told her she wasn’t coming to the semi-final anyway. It’s been good banter with her as well but it’s about what Hibs do on Saturday.

“I would be lying if I said Falkirk was not the draw we wanted. If you were to ask the Falkirk players they probably wanted us after not beating them this season. We won’t underestimate them, we know how difficult a team they can be. There’s not been a lot in the three games even though they’ve won two. Come Saturday that won’t matter. We will go into Saturday with great belief that we can cause them problems.”

The capital club have bolstered their chances with a timely return to form. They bounced back from a run of three defeats to better Dumbarton last week and then finally get one over their city rivals Hearts on Sunday. But it is in the cup that their resolve and self-belief will be tested further. Craig has fond memories of a previous cup semi-final featuring the teams.

“I was at the [2013] semi-final when they [Hibs] beat Falkirk 4-3 and I had already signed the pre-contract and I remember standing in the main stand and looking at the Hibs supporters singing Sunshine on Leith at the end of the game and I just couldn’t wait to be here. That’s what is in my mind this week, going into the game. I still have pictures of the supporters at the end of that game and how passionate they were and how much it meant to them.”

Almost 18,000 have bought tickets to support the Easter Road club this weekend, with the club hoping to sell at least another couple of thousand before the game. For some of those fans, winning the cup will matter more than winning promotion back to the top flight. Craig knows the value placed on such a dream but he won’t be drawn on what takes priority in his mind.

“I think for the club promotion probably is [more important] but as a player I’m going to be selfish and say that we have a squad of players capable of fighting on both fronts. That’s not getting carried away. I want to get promoted and win the cup final as well.”

Despite two cup final appearances in recent years, Hibs fans have been starved of Scottish Cup success and even the league has offered large helpings of torment in recent times, which is one reason why Laura Craig will not be too upset if she returns home on Sunday to find a husband with a smile on his face.

“She’s been through some hard times with me over the last few years so I think she deserves a break. At the end of last season when you’ve only won one game in about 20, it takes its toll on you. This will be a game on Saturday that will be another low, low point if we don’t win.”

But with Alan Stubbs at the helm, he believes there is more steel in the Hibs set-up.

“We have four games in two weeks and these games are going to define how much bottle this squad has got.

“When you see how well we played in the derby on Sunday, I think if anyone wants to write us off then they would be a bit premature.