A different kind of warfare was the focus of Hibernian midfielder Marvin Bartley’s attention when all his team-mates engaged in frenzied chat on social media about being drawn against fierce city rivals Hearts in the William Hill Scottish Cup.
“I wanted to play Call of Duty on the computer but all the lads were talking about Hearts,” recalls Bartley.
Even as the build-up intensified ahead of this afternoon’s fifth round clash at Tynecastle, the 30-year-old was more excited about sitting down to watch his favourite soaps than the prospect of locking horns against Ian Cathro’s side.
When the former Bournemouth man walks out into a cacophony of noise at a capacity Tynecastle, Bartley will be in the zone.
“Once it starts, I’m a different man when I step over the white line,” insists Bartley, who was an unused substitute in the historic Scottish Cup final victory over Rangers.
“I didn’t know we’d drawn Hearts in the next round until I saw it on our Whatsapp group.
“I thought: ‘What’s going on there’? I messaged John McGinn privately because I didn’t want to look like a num-num in the group.
“He told me we’d got Hearts and I said: ‘Decent, you want a game of Call of Duty’? That was it. That’s what it meant to me.
“Honestly, me and football don’t really mix.
“If you want to ask about Coronation Street of Eastenders, we can have a chat.
“I just switch off from football totally. I get the soaps on or walk the dog. That’s my life, really.
“I need to do that to unwind. When it’s football, football, football, it can get too much.
“Once it starts, I’m a different man when I step over the white line.”
But Bartley’s attempt to separate football from his own time is not helped by the fact that he has Hearts fans as neighbours.
Bartley, who played in both derby matches last season as Hibs progressed in the competition following a replay victory, added: “They all support Hearts.
“They’ve been giving me a bit of stick and we’ve had some banter. The same as last time.
“A lot of them are going to the game on Sunday. Obviously, they want me to lose. But they’re my neighbours so this is probably the only game they want me to lose.
“I’ll be doing my best to upset them.
“To be fair, when we beat them and went on to win the Scottish Cup, I didn’t see them for a while. They were in hiding but they’ve come back out again.
“I told them: ‘Nice to see you guys, it’s been a while’. They said last season’s gone, they’re just concentrating on Sunday now.”
The brawny Bartley recalled how the Hearts players tried to wind him up in the tunnel at Tynecastle in the first game last February, which Hibs draw 2-2 after being two goals down.
He added: “That day at Tynecastle, in the tunnel beforehand, one of their players was calling me ‘wee man’.
“I’d never been called wee man before. It was the first and last time.
“I just brushed it off. John Doolan, our old assistant manager, had a go back. He was like my little chiwauawa.
“He was in there protecting me. I didn’t think ‘wee man’ sounded very pleasant but when I heard what it actually meant I thought I’ve been called far worse than that.
“I’ll take that. Thankfully, John stepped straight in.”
“The comeback at Tynecastle last season is a great memory, especially to score so late in the game.
“Then we took them to our place and won the tie. It would be good to get that sort of result again.”