BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Hibs hero Darren McGregor has vowed to use his Scottish Cup win bonus to treat his long-suffering girlfriend Erin to a lavish holiday . . . to Gullane Beach.
The 30-year-old, a lifelong Hibee, was still on cloud nine last night after the capital club finally ended their 114-year wait for the elusive trophy.
The unforgettable triumph, and subsequent open-top bus parade in front of more than 100,000 delirious fans in Edinburgh, was in sharp contrast to the bitter disappointments which preceded their win over Rangers.
Having endured last-minute heartbreak in the League Cup final and their bid for promotion, McGregor admits it is impossible not to take that sorrow home – and he has leaned heavily on his partner.
“Winning the Scottish Cup has given me a bit of extra money to play with, so Erin might get taken to Gullane Beach instead of Portobello,” he joked.
“No, we’ll potter about and relax for a bit then I’ll take Erin away because she deserves a holiday for all those ups and downs and bad moods I have taken home in the past months.
“The other guys will testify, you go home after defeats and it’s hard not to take it with you. When it means so much to you, I’m miserable when we lose. That’s football: the highs are short-lived but the the lows can drag on for days and days.
“But this whole thing, from start to finish, has been an absolute dream.”
McGregor admits it was a breathtaking scene on Sunday as he surveyed the city from the top deck of Hibs’ celebratory bus, snaking its way from the City Chambers, through the Old Town and to Leith Links.
A local lad, these are streets he knows like the back of his hand – but he has never seen them like this before.
Even his mum’s house had an unfamiliar look, with pictures doing the rounds on social media on Sunday of the building decked out in green and white, with flags and banners outside donning the facade. He is far from the only Hibee in the family.
McGregor reckons the tour was comparable with anything served up by the game’s superpowers.
He continued: “It doesn’t matter what team you are at, whether it is Manchester United or Barcelona, that parade from City Chambers to Leith Links will match anything.
“Every inch of Leith Walk was consumed with people enjoying themselves and that brings it all home. When you are playing you can become wrapped up in the game and sometimes forget the magnitude it can have on people lives.
“There are a lot of older fans who have been coming 50-60 years and have never seen that. To have contributed to those people’s dreams is fantastic.”
He added: “It was lot better than being chased down Leith Walk by the Police when I was younger!”
McGregor will enjoy his summer after a victory more than a century in the making, but he is adamant Hibs will return next season determined to finally regain their place at Scottish football’s top table.
He added: “We have a great bunch of lads in there and no matter what happens, we are resilient enough to deal with it. With the gaffer here, I think we’ll build for next season and be stronger.
“Europe is a massive bonus but getting back to the Premiership and playing Rangers, Celtic and getting four derbies, needs to be the main aim.”