Andrew Shinnie has heard all the stories, seen countless videos and, every time he is regaled by tales of Hibernian’s Scottish Cup triumph, he feels a stab of envy. But now he has the chance to sample those highs for himself and he wants to capitalise.
“I watched the final and I did think when Rangers scored they were going to see it out,” said the midfielder. “But Rangers had had a lot of weeks without playing. I think they played a young Tottenham team and that’s not great preparation, while Hibs had been playing and they came on strong.
“I saw Davie’s [Gray] header in the last minute and when you watch it you just wish it was something you were a part of, you wish you were on the pitch and a part of the celebrations afterwards. I have seen the boys’ pictures and videos and they tell me stories about it and I listen with envy. I wish I was a part of that. Hopefully I can write my own story with Hibs this year.”
For that to happen, the Easter Road side must negotiate a way past Hearts. The teams were paired in the draw for the fifth round and the midfielder has no complaints.
Having watched the fixture on television in the past, he is relishing the chance to get involved. “You probably have to play in it to fully appreciate it but it’s always a good game to watch on tv and Tynecastle always has a good atmosphere,” he said.
“I’ve played there a few times with Inverness and they were always great occasions. Hibs will bring a lot of fans and Hearts will sell out their bit, so it will be a big game and I am looking forward to it.”
The fact that the pair met en route to Hibs banishing the 114-year hoodoo, battling back from a 2-0 deficit at Tynecastle to earn a replay on home turf and, subsequently, progress to the next round, means there will be even more at stake this season, as the Gorgie side and their fans bay for revenge.
“I don’t know if I watched [that first game at Tynecastle] live but I remember seeing the goals. I remember Paul [Hanlon] wheeling away when he scored late on and the fans going crazy. And that makes you want to play in it. That’s what I was thinking when I came here. So when the draw came out I was delighted.
“The other night was a bit touch and go and, if we had got Raith, we’d have gone there. But I’m just delighted I’ll hopefully get to take part in an Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle. It doesn’t get better than that.”
It was a fixture Shinnie thought may elude him with the clubs in different leagues, so he is happier than most that the paths have crossed again on cup duty and happy to be returning to Gorgie so soon after defeating Bonnyrigg Rose there last week.
“It is weird [to be going back so soon] but this will be a totally different game,” he said. “We had an amazing number of fans there and Bonnyrigg had quite a few as well but it will be a bit different next time. Hearts will have a lot more of the crowd and it will be a bit noisier from them.
“But I have seen the Hibs fans in the derbies on TV and they are brilliant. When the boys score goals they go mental behind that goal!
“Winning the cup has probably lifted a big burden off the club, everyone is talking about it. Now that is off we would love to defend it, it’s not a case of we’ve won it now, that’s it, we can down tools now. We want to defend the trophy, it’s ours. And there would be no better way than to go to Tynecastle and play Hearts.”
The cup draw may have nudged him nearer the dream of being involved in the capital head to head but he and his colleagues know that manager Neil Lennon will only consider playing guys who have pulled their weight in the intervening league fixtures.
The team travel to Dumfries today to play Queen of the South, determined to safeguard their six-point lead at the top of the Championship and while Shinnie insists that the players are focused on their primary quest for promotion, he accepts that the battle for places as they eye another cup run could give them an even greater edge.
“I think it’s a positive. I have experienced it down south and it’s a bit different down there because there are so many games, you are playing midweek all the time. And sometimes when you play in the cup managers see it as a chance to rest players and play different players.
“But up here we are only really playing Saturday to Saturday and the cup falls on a Saturday as well. So it’s not really a distraction, it’s like a normal game at the end of the week.
“You don’t need to rest players and bring in others, you go strong and you try and win the game. Obviously we want to do well in the cup, we want to get to the final again and beating Hearts is just another step along the way.”