Falkirk assistant manager James McDonaugh was once so committed to boyhood heroes Hibernian that he moved his entire family to within two miles of the club’s training base at East Mains.
Now the young coach’s geographical and emotional ties with his former employers are literally miles apart.
McDonaugh, who was part of the Hibs academy set-up for seven-and-a-half years, will be doing his utmost to consign the Leith side to a third successive season in the Championship when the teams meet in tomorrow’s play-off semi-final second leg, with the tie poised on a knife-edge following Tuesday’s 2-2 draw.
“There’s no divided loyalties from me,” said McDonaugh, who accepted Peter Houston’s invitation to become the Bairns number two in summer 2014.
“One hundred per cent I want to be in the Premiership next season and you want to prove people wrong and prove people right as well.
“It was kind of difficult (to leave Hibs) because in one sense I was looking forward to working with him (Alan Stubbs).
“He’s a big name and he had a good reputation from working with the Everton youngsters, and I was hoping to learn a lot.
“That’s football. I got a phone call from Peter, it was nothing I had planned for.
“I had moved my family all the way to the Hibs training ground, I had moved the kids’ schools to get closer a year before.
“I still live there, I’m two miles from the training ground. I was at Broxburn before, ten minutes from here.”
McDonaugh’s family remain ardent Hibs supporters although the Falkirk assistant manager can count on their backing.
He added: “My wee boy Joseph, is the most confused. He’s six and he’s like: ‘Dad, who do I want to win today?’
“My grandad is 88, so he’s the one that is desperate for the Scottish Cup win. It’s not so much me now – I just want them to win it for him.
“My grandad wants Falkirk to win for me but Hibs to win the Scottish Cup. It’s hard.
“When you support a team all your life, you want them to do well but you are 100 percent not wanting them to do well when you play against them.
“If Hibs could win the Scottish Cup on the Saturday, we could win the play offs on the Sunday then we could go on holiday on Monday – that would be great.”
Houston rates McDonaugh highly and the aspiring manager admits he would love the chance to succeed the 57-year-old when he decides to step down.
He added: “I think if the opportunity came along, I would grab it with both hands.
“I’ve learned a lot off him. Being a youth team manager I thought: ‘I could do that, I could do that’, but when you actually get involved you realise you’re a wee bit away.
“Having been here a couple of years, and even just the small things like taking the St Mirren game earlier in the season when he was in the stand, it gives you that confidence to say: ‘I could do this’. It’s a completely different job.
“The support from Peter and Alex Smith (Falkirk technical director) has been so valuable as a young coach.
“I think, one day, I’d love to do that.”