It was a late goal, but, in truth, those with deadlines looming on Friday night could have pretty much filed the final outcome long before then.
Hibs had the chance to establish a bigger gap between themselves and their semi-final rivals in the Premiership promotion play-off. They didn’t do it and, having allowed their hosts to establish scoreline parity, a late, late winner became not only possible, but highly probable.
It’s the way Falkirk have been operating this term, deep into stoppage time, right up until the final whistle. Which is why, when Bob McHugh delivered the knockout blow – something he has a reputation for – the Hibs players and fans were crushed, but precious few in the Falkirk Stadium were stunned.
“That’s football, that’s the way it goes,” said Falkirk forward Lee Miller, who believes the team are on a journey that is fuelled by fate and self-belief. “We left it a bit late but I tell you what, it’s written for us, so it is. It’s our time. 100 per cent. We believe in ourselves. This is a hard place to come and credit to Hibs, I thought they played well second half. I thought we dominated the first half and we were unlucky not to be winning when we went in at half time but we always believe and we never gave up.”
Miller started his career as a young apprentice on the books at Falkirk and was a member of the 2002/03 championship-winning squad denied promotion due to ground criteria. He had clocked up spells at nine other clubs in the interim but he is back at the club as a 32-year-old and he admits that this year represents the opportunity for him to address some unfinished business and finally right what he still considers a wrong.
“Starting out here, I have always had a soft spot for Falkirk. I started out here on a YTS and it is ironic the way it has worked out. The way it happened, with us winning the league and not getting promoted because of the stadium, I think that was down to the Glasgow chairmen voting against us and we never went up, but now it is in our hands and it is up to us to prove that we are good enough and we have everything in place this time.”
The aggregate triumph over the Easter Road side means only Kilmarnock stand between Peter Houston’s men and elevation to the top flight.
“This is what I came here to do,” said Miller. “We spoke about it at the start of the season and said we wanted to be in the play-offs but then the longer the season went on, with us going unnoticed a little bit, we kind of crept up and we did get second place and we thoroughly deserved that. Then we went and played Hibs over the two legs. For a neutral watching them, it must have been incredible but for a fan to watch it, it’s a bit of a rollercoaster. But those are the games you want to play in. You want to be fit and play in these games and luckily for us we emerged victorious.
“All the way through the season the manager has put that belief in us. You saw those celebrations but we have still done nothing. But we have got momentum and the crowd was unbelievable. It was like the Brockville days.”
But a predominantly young team, bursting with potential, it is the spirit on the park that has carried them this far against better quality players. “Honestly, every one of us looked at each other and said, ‘it’s time, this is it’ and we got a chance and it goes out for a throw in and from that Bob McHugh has another winner. Incredible. Unbelievable. I’m just looking forward to these two games.”
On Killie’s books last term, Miller has an idea of what Falkirk will come up against when they face up to Lee Clark’s side, at home on Thursday and then at Rugby Park next Sunday.
“There are still some of the players there who were there last season but I’m sure the new manager will have instilled a different way of playing. But we have scouts and we get a lot of information and I’m sure we will get a gameplan in place.”