Once upon a time Jason Cummings could think of nothing better than leading Hearts to Hampden glory. Now the striker dreams about becoming a Hibernian legend by ending their 114-year wait for victory in the Scottish Cup final.
In order to make those vivid imaginations a reality, Cummings and his Easter Road team-mates will first have to dispatch Dundee United in today’s semi-final. It will be Hibs’ second trip to the national stadium in just over a month after the 2-1 defeat by Ross County in the League Cup final. After that particular contest, a crestfallen Cummings wanted, in his own words, to “throw himself off a bridge”, but he has immediately been handed a shot at cup redemption.
Should Hibs find a way past their Ladbrokes Premiership opponents, it will be Cummings’ first trip to a Scottish Cup final as a player. As a supporter he is no stranger to the showpiece event, having attended the 2012 final as a Hearts supporter when the men in maroon dished out a 5-1 hammering to their Edinburgh neighbours.
This led to the widespread trend of Hearts fans flashing the 5-1 hand sign at any photo opportunity. Cummings was one such participant, with the image later appearing on social media after he started becoming a first-team regular at Easter Road. So, given how his career panned out, does he have any regrets over the gesture?
“It’s not really a secret that I was brought up a Hearts fan. I was brought up in Gorgie and went to Tynecastle High School and most of my family are Hearts fans. I don’t regret it, it’s just the way I was brought up,” said Cummings.
“When I was younger I always thought about playing for Hearts. When they let me go I was thinking ‘what can I do to get one back at them?’ And I thought ‘I’ll come to Hibs. And I’ll score four consecutive goals against them in the derby match’.
“I’ve had a few dreams, like actual dreams, about winning the Scottish Cup with Hibs. I’m usually popping up in the 90th minute with a winner into the top corner.
“I would love to win the cup with Hibs. It would be funny to take the medal back into my house with my brothers and put it on their walls. They wouldn’t be happy with that.”
In order to make this dream a reality, Cummings and likely strike-partner Anthony Stokes will need to be more influential in today’s match than they were in their last Hampden trip against Ross County. Critics have insisted the pair don’t mesh together as a partnership and either one would be better suited playing alongside another striker. It’s a view manager Alan Stubbs disagrees with, and the young striker believes his manager has been right to show patience as the two build up an understanding on the pitch .
“Stokesy is one of my good mates off the pitch and we have a laugh all the time,” he said. “I’m starting to understand how he plays. We have been linking up better in the past few weeks.”
The “cup or promotion?” question has been asked of just about every Hibs player and fan this past week in the build-up to the game. The thinking is, with Hibs’ crowded fixture list and the prospect of battling in two play-off games and the cup final in the space of seven days, it could only be one or the other.
Cummings, on the other hand, is refusing to give up hope for both, though he may just be saying that because he can’t make up his mind.
“I’d probably have to take promotion… no, I’m not sure actually! I’d take both, if that’s an answer. I wouldn’t like to pick one. I think the fans would pick the Scottish Cup… I think. I’d probably take promotion. Possibly.”