Marvin Bartley 'would take repeat of 2016 Scottish Cup final bench role' if it meant Livingston win

On Sunday May 22 2016, Marvin Bartley posted a photo of himself smiling in the sun on an open-topped bus with an endless sea of Hibs fans stretched out behind him in Leith.

Dejection for Marvin Bartley during the 2015/16 League Cup final between Hibs and Ross County
Dejection for Marvin Bartley during the 2015/16 League Cup final between Hibs and Ross County

It has become one of the enduring images of that extraordinary parade, as the Easter Road side and their supporters celebrated lifting a 114-year curse.

Bartley had been an unused substitute at Hampden the previous day, when David Gray’s injury-time winner secured a 3-2 win for Alan Stubbs’ side, and the Livingston captain insists he would take a backseat again if it guaranteed glory for the West Lothian outfit tomorrow.

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"I didn’t know I wasn’t playing until half past one on the day,” Bartley recalls when asked about the 2016 final.

Marvin Bartley wants to be victorious in what he has confidently predicted will be his final major cup final as a player

"If Dave [Martindale] was to say to me; ‘you’re not playing on Sunday but we’re guaranteed to win’ I would take that all day.

"I just want to win the competition. I want to be part of that winning feeling."

Bartley turns 35 in July and while he accepts that this will almost certainly be his last major cup final as a player, he has warned his younger colleagues to seize the moment – in case it is the last time for them as well.

“There is so much more in it for me. It might be the same for the younger boys; they might not get to this position again. It should not be something you take for granted.

"Whatever it takes to win, I am more than happy to do it,” Bartley added.

League Cup redemption

Despite remaining an unused substitute for Hibs’ historic cup win, Bartley had been a starter two months earlier when a late Alex Schalk goal won the League Cup for Ross County. Even being part of the Scottish Cup-winning squad wasn’t quite enough for the former Burnley player.

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"That disappointment did not leave me for a very long time. Even after winning the Scottish Cup you think, ‘I could have had both’," Bartley said ruefully.

"That is not disappointment I want to feel again. If I can transfer that hurt and tell the boys that that is how it felt to lose in a final… I don’t want anyone else in the dressing room feeling like that so we need to go out and perform.”

Vindication

Bartley has previously spoken about needing to be convinced that a move to Scotland was right for him. Come Sunday evening, he could well have lifted two major trophies in five years; something he could not have envisaged doing when he was told at 18 that he wasn't good enough for an amateur team, but after enjoying six seasons north of the Border, he is eager for a chance to prove the doubters wrong.

He said: “I hope some of the people who said to me that I was basically going up to Scotland because I didn’t want the hustle and bustle of playing in England can look at it now and say I made the right decision.

"It would be nice to win the cup and then send a few pictures to the managers who said I was coming up here to semi-retire.

"In football you make decisions and luckily enough for me it was the right one because of the way my career has gone.”

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