BY IAIN COLLIN –[email protected]_sport
HIBS infamously waited 114 years to finally land the Scottish Cup – but Hampden history maker David Gray insists they can repeat their heroics all over again this season.
The defender played a captain’s role in May’s stunning triumph over Rangers, rising to nod in a dramatic injury-time winner to end the club’s tortuous wait for the trophy.
He admits he has struggled to come to terms with the legendary status awarded to him by his stunning strike.
But, with memories of an unforgettable day stirred yesterday when he was involved in the draw for the first round of this term’s tournament, the 28-year-old is adamant the Easter Road outfit are determined to defend the cup that proved elusive for so long.
He said: “I still don’t think it has fully sunk in, the whole achievement.
“I’m very grateful and honoured to have had the opportunity to be captain on that day – and then the way things have turned out have been surreal.
“It’s hard to put it into words, to be honest.
“I think when the time comes we have to do all we can to defend it. I don’t see why we can’t win it again.
“Since I’ve been here we’ve had two good runs. In my first season, we were unfortunate to lose the semi-final to Falkirk, having dominated the game, and then we obviously went on to win it.
“We know if we play as well as we can play we can beat anyone.”
Hibs have begun the new campaign in determined fashion under new boss Neil Lennon.
A shock defeat to Queen of the South in the Betfred Cup aside, the capital outfit have swept all before them and sit top of the Championship with four wins from four.
And, although a repeat performance in the cup will be the goal when the competition comes round, Gray admits they simply have to follow up May’s celebrations by ending another wait and returning the club to the top-flight after three years away.
He added: “To end the season on a high was great and it’s great that we’ve got the feel-good factor at the start of the season.
“It’s back to business now and the most important thing is to get promoted.
“Hibs need to be in the Premiership and we’re fully aware of that. That’s got to be the main objective.
“All the stuff with the Scottish Cup is great but more importantly we’ve started the season well and we just have to keep pushing on now.”
• The Scottish Cup first round draw is as follows:
Turriff United v Bonnyrigg Rose
Leith Athletic v Cumbernauld Colts
Fort William v Brora Rangers
Forres Mechanics v Lossiemouth
East Kilbride v Vale of Leithen
BSC Glasgow v Rothes
Deveronvale v Gretna 2008
Keith v Banks O’Dee
Edinburgh University v Whitehill Welfare
Gala Fairydean Rovers v Fraserburgh
Beith Juniors OR Auchinleck Talbot v Strathspey Thistle
Civil Service Strollers v Hawick Royal Albert
Nairn County v Preston Athletic
Inverurie Loco Works v Buckie Thistle
Clachnacuddin v University of Stirling
Dalbeattie Star v Wick Academy
Selkirk v Linlithgow Rose
Girvan v Huntly