Part-time player whose goal knocked Hearts out of the cup talks of the moment of his career
By day Martin Maclean travels the length and breadth of the Highlands and Islands working for electricity firm SSE checking on their sub-stations to keep supply to communities in the furthest parts of the country.
But last night it was the 29-year-old’s own spark of magic that sealed what is already being touted as the greatest upset in the history of the Scottish Cup when he rifled in a close range effort for Brora Rangers to dump Hearts out of the competition.
In truth it was a goal which defied all logic.
The Highland League side had not played a competitive game for 10 weeks and had only had five sessions since being given the green light to resume training.
Hearts, meanwhile, are 16 points clear in the Championship and had reached the last two Scottish Cup finals but they fell to a 2-1 defeat at Dudgeon Park.
Because of covid there may not have been any fans there in the flesh to witness Brora and Maclean’s finest hour, but that did not stop scenes of wild jubilation at full time.
The veteran midfielder’s 75th minute thump will not only likely see his name crop up in countless quizzes among fans from here to eternity, but should see him now adopted by Hearts opponents as a mascot.
He said: “The ball fell to me at the back post and I hit it on the half volley, bang, roof of the net. I was just hoping it wasn’t offside or that there was any other problem before celebrating.
"The only way I will be able to top that is if we win the competition itself."
He added: “I’d like to think I have maybe scored better ones over the years, but If I have to be remembered for that then I can live with it, it’s not a bad way to be remembered.
He added: "Aye, If I ever have to buy a pint in Leith again I will be disappointed.”
But the time-served electrician did not have time to wallow in his moment of glory. He was straight back to work yesterday in his van travelling across the north of Scotland, and current covid restrictions meant there was no canteen tickertape homecoming.
"A lot of the lads I work with aren’t really that into football, and we work on our own at the moment because of covid, but the reports of the game were on the radio and it has been on the telly quite a lot since so I have been getting lots of messages throughout the day, it has been nice.”
The midfielder’s own path to his moment of fame has been a long one. He started out playing for his village club Back FC on the Isle of Lewis as a lad and picked up a clutch of local honours with them. It was while still living on the island that he signed for Brora in 2012, flying over each week to join them for games while still working for a local contractor in Stornoway, before relocating to the mainland.
He now lives in Inverness and makes the post-work 75 minute drive north to Brora’s Dudgeon Park several times a week for training.
And never was the journey more worth the effort than last night.
"There’s a video doing the rounds on social media of the dressing room afterwards and let’s just say there wasn’t a whole lot of social distancing going on, but I think we can be forgiven in the circumstances. It was wild.
“The manager [Steven Mackay] said before the match that he had a wee feeling we could do it. Hearts had to travel a long way and there was a good bit of wind, and he fancied us for the upset. He was right.
"It still has not sunk in yet, and I don’t think it will do, maybe for 20 opr 30 years until I am sitting in a pub and my own name is answer to a quiz question, that would be something.”
But with his own first child wth long-term partner Esther just four weeks away from arrival, Maclean is now concerned on juggling impending fatherhood with keeping Brora’s cup run going.
"That’s the next thing to worry about,” he said.