BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
ALAN Stubbs will spare a thought for his late dad when he leads Hibs out in today’s League Cup final – and hopes to be celebrating at full-time knowing he has done him proud.
Stubbs’ father Ron was a guiding light in his football career but passed away not long after seeing his son join his beloved Everton in 2001.
It was a deeply emotional time for the family, with Stubbs himself having successfully fought cancer twice, only to see his dad succumb to the hideous disease.
The Hibs head coach’s friends and family – including a mini-bus full from his native Liverpool – will descend on Hampden this afternoon hoping to share in his success, and he would have loved Ron to have been a part of the big day against Ross County.
But the 44-year-old insists his old man will still be with him in spirit as he bids to land a trophy he has insisted would eclipse anything he won as a player.
He said: “When I was a kid, he was the one who was with me on the bus, on the train, everywhere.
“It was just after I signed for Everton that he passed away but I probably left him with the biggest memory he ever had – seeing me running out at Goodison.
“He came to see me at Celtic quite a few times. He was a real football person.
“He would have done anything for me to get me there, to fulfil my ambition of being a professional footballer. He would go the length and breadth of what he could do to get his child to where he could be.
“To see me at Hampden on Sunday would have been great, but he’ll be somewhere.
“But I’m the same as every other player. Everyone will have family or a friend who they may think about.
“Hopefully I’ll be thinking about my dad at the end of the game having done him proud.”
Stubbs believes his dad would have expected him to make the move into management once his playing career came to an end.
And it is a role the former Celtic and Everton defender admits he predicted for himself when he became a fresh-faced captain at first club Bolton Wanderers in his early-20s.
He reckons having to cope with the likes of Owen Coyle and John McGinlay was perfect preparation for becoming a boss.
He added: “At the start, especially at Bolton, it wasn’t intimidating, but to speak to senior professionals as the captain, and be a voice, it could be a bit daunting.
“But when somebody gives you that title, it automatically becomes a respect thing.
“With the senior players, if I said something to one of them and he tried to say something back, the other senior guys would jump in and have my back.
“Mark Seagraves was there and Tony Kelly, which helped me because they were Scousers. They were a huge help for me.
“Later, John McGinlay came in with Andy Walker and Owen Coyle, and Coyley and John McGinlay were a handful, they were hard work.
“Once Coyley would say something, you’d go with him, then John McGinlay would come in and say something else.
“But they were good fun. They were great lads, but they kept me on my toes.
“I’ve been around some great characters and I think that’s stood me in good stead for now, with the different characters and personalities you come across in the dressing-room.”
Many things will flit through Stubbs’ mind ahead of kick-off this afternoon as he attempts to lead Hibs to their first silverware since the CIS Cup win in 2007.
He will gather his thoughts over a quiet coffee when he commandeers the dressing-room for himself after sending his squad out for their warm-up.
But he insists he will be careful not to fill his players with too much information as they bid to produce a fifth victory over Premiership opposition at the key moment.
He explained: “I have thought about what I’m going to speak to them about. A bit of that will be based on my experiences in how you approach the cup final and about performing on the day. It’ll just be certain things.
“The players don’t want to hear a manager going on for five or 10 minutes before a game, because their head’s somewhere else anyway.
“I just need to maybe give them two or three points or one word of inspiration and they will just grab hold of that.
“I’ll chat with them, just individually and very quietly, but I like them to have their own space.
“It is different preparing as a manager, but I’m enjoying it, and I hope I have a lot more to enjoy.”