Ryan McGowan has opened up about the desperation within the Hearts dressing room to make sure they defeated Hibs in the 2012 Scottish Cup final.
Craig Beattie’s late penalty to beat Celtic 2-1 in the semi-final set up the first Edinburgh derby in a Scottish Cup final since 1896 - when Hearts ran out 3-1 winners at Logie Green.
From the moment the players arrived back in the Hampden Park dressing room they were reminded about how important the Hibs clash would be and how much it mattered to fans.
McGowan, who netted in the 5-1 win on 19 May, and his colleagues saw that first hand with assistant manager Gary Locke.
“We walked into the changing room and I think it just hit him (Locke) we’re going to play Hibs in the cup final,” he told Open Goal. “I remember him being ‘yeah, it’s a great win but we f*****g can’t lose the final’. Even on the bus on the way back we were thinking ‘this is going to be huge’.
“(Paulo) Sergio used to be ‘next game’s most important’ and Lockey would be behind (shaking his head and whispering) ‘cup final’.
“We did not want to be the team that is known as the team that’s lost to Hibs in the cup final. I used to think if I give away a pen, (Leigh) Griffiths scores and they win 1-0, no matter what I do for Hearts, Hibs fans or everyone would be ‘gave away the pen, didn’t you big fella’. That used to drive me crazy.
“They had Griffiths and (Garry) O’Connor at that time who were doing well and we used to always worry about if it was just one of those games, Griffiths puts one in the top corner and you can’t score and the bloody b******s go on to beat you 1-0 and you are remembered as the team who lost to them.
“Segio was quite good because he just used to think Hibs were Hibs, ‘we’ve beaten them four or five times already this season so if we just play as we have always played this season we’re going to win’.”
In a previous Open Goal interview ex-Hibs striker O’Connor noted that in the build up to the game there were squabbles over bonuses if they won the cup.
The Hearts dressing room, which had experienced problems getting paid on time by the club, had their mind on one thing only: winning.
McGowan said: “I listened to that (O’Connor) interview and he was talking about bonuses, they were moaning about bonuses. I think our mindset at that stage wasn’t about money or bonuses, we weren’t getting paid anyway so it didn’t matter about what bonuses they were going to give us. This will be history for us.
“Anytime we go back we’re treated as heroes and kings and people still talk to us about it. I think we had that drained into us that this is a game that can change your career, it can change your life, you can be remembered for so long.
“We weren’t really worried about too much about formations, or tactics, who wasn’t playing, or bonuses, we were more worried about let’s go out there first and foremost and win the game, create some moments and become heroes.”
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