Even Judy Murray, who knows sporting prowess when she sees it, was impressed. “Black gloves. Golden boots. Quiff with highlights.” Jason Cummings, she added as a hashtag, has #swag.
Cummings can get away with most things. Such is his standing at the moment he is able to pick up a red card in a finely-poised cup derby match and still emerge as hero and history maker.
An early goal, his 20th of the season and fourth in a row against Hearts, was enough to separate the sides and secure a William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final place for Hibs on Tuesday night.
It also means he has emulated Lawrie Reilly as well as Alex Cropley, the last man to score in four successive derbies for Hibs. Cropley’s record has stood since the 1970s.
Now a taxi driver in Edinburgh, Cropley scored in four games in a row between September 1972 and January 1974. One of those matches is the celebrated – down Leith way at least – 7-0 win at Tynecastle on New Year’s day in 1973, when Cropley struck with a volley.
The late great Reilly, meanwhile, scored in four successive matches against Hearts in the early 1950s. The difference is that, unlike Cummings’ current run, both Cropley and Reilly’s sequences of goals involved scoring in games in which Hibs ended up losing to their rivals. Cummings, on the other hand, has contributed to an unbeaten run against Hearts that actually stretches back as far as five games.
Whether he can extend this scoring run to five games against Hearts hinges on his future movements come the summer – and also on Hibs’ ability to ensure they can join Hearts in the Premiership next season.
If they fail then they cannot rely on being drawn in either cup against their rivals during the next campaign. And Hibs cannot also rely on Cummings still being around to help them in their ambitions.
The subject of interest already from English clubs, including Rotherham United, Cummings is perhaps the hottest striking property in Scotland since David Goodwillie, as uncomplimentary as that comparison might seem now. He is sure to interest English Championship clubs in the summer.
In view of the way he is developing, English Premiership clubs could do worse than look at him. Head coach Alan Stubbs has already voiced an opinion that there will be interest in him “at a high level”.
But Cummings will now have to sit out Hibs’ attempt to get to Hampden next month, when they host Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the last eight of the Scottish Cup. He will, nevertheless, play at the national stadium the following weekend in the League Cup final against Ross County. Hibs are in clover. Cummings is their talisman – and has been since the start of last season.
He has now scored 41 goals for Stubbs – and two, memorably, for Terry Butcher, after which he gushed about having a left foot that can “open a can of beans”. When he then missed the crucial penalty against Hamilton Accies that sent Hibs into the Championship, some wondered whether he would recover.
No one needed to have any worries on that front. Shortly after the start of the next season he was boasting he had “the touch of an angel” after scoring twice against Rangers at Ibrox in a 3-1 win. It even prompted Leigh Griffiths to advise the player on Twitter to tone it down a bit.
Cummings clearly isn’t someone who thinks too deeply about things, often to his benefit. An instinct striker, it was notable that when he was handed time to think about shooting shortly after scoring his opening goal on Tuesday, he dithered before allowing Hearts goalkeeper Neil Alexander to block. He was later sent off after kicking the ball away when already on a booking for goading the Hearts fans after scoring. Again, it doesn’t suggest judiciousness.
“It was water off a duck’s back to Jason,” said team-mate Darren McGregor, when asked whether Cummings felt a bit down about the red card. And you can believe it. Cummings spent yesterday re-tweeting clips of his winner. He also re-tweeted the Judy Murray tweet mentioned above. “[It’s] made my year,” he added.
While there might have been little in the way of contrition there was a strong sense of vindication. “What a feeling it is proving people wrong,” Cummings wrote in another tweet yesterday. “Don’t let anyone tell you your(sic) not good enough”.
The #fourinarow hashtag underlined at whom this was directed – Hearts, who released him when he was 15. This detail simply makes it more delicious for Cummings when he scores against the Tynecastle side, hence his glee – and booking – on Tuesday. Stubbs later suggested the player had not done anything wrong. The head coach further claimed Cummings didn’t leave the field while celebrating, when of course he did (as did several of his teammates). Stubbs also proposed that Cummings was trying to “fetch” the ball rather than kick it further away when he earned his second booking.
Stubbs hardly sounded like someone preparing to read the riot act to a player who, despite some faults and the recent loan arrival of Anthony Stokes, remains so central to Hibs’ hopes. But then Cummings can get away with most things – including black gloves, golden boots and yes, even those highlights.