JACK ROSS is thrilled to be returning to familiar territory with Hibernian this weekend and not trying to negotiate the kind of trip into the unknown he endured during his days as St Mirren manager.
The Buddies were drawn to face Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale in the third round of the Scottish Cup in 2017, in a match that took place in the spartan surroundings of Saughton Enclosure in Edinburgh. Despite expressing pre-match reservations over the venue, on the day, it was a hurdle they cleared with ease, swatting aside the East of Scotland team 7-1.
However, there are no such concerns for Hibs as they prepare for their fifth round encounter with BSC Glasgow. The Lowland League hopefuls play their home matches at the Indodrill Stadium, a ground Ross once called home as manager of Alloa Athletic.
“It is nice,” he said when asked about returning to his old stomping ground. “It is good that I know it is a good pitch. It is an artificial surface but I know it is a good one. I know the playing surface and the surroundings – the changing rooms, etcetera, are good.
“So, I am familiar with it and I also know that it is good and, secondly, from a selfish point of view, I know people will be there to help facilitate the game who are also involved with Alloa, and I loved my time there, so it will be nice to go back and see them.
“I think we have been fortunate that BSC play their games there and that they decided to keep the game there. I know it is a ground that has hosted Championship games every second week and, even if I hadn’t been there before, that would make me think it is okay.
“But I do know how good it is. And it is a bit different from Lothian Thistle with St Mirren. That was a very different experience and was tricky because of the surroundings and the playing surface.
“It was very, very different from what we were used to playing in and, at that time, St Mirren were only in the Championship. So, the fact that this will be at a good ground is an advantage for us.”
Ross is fully aware that Hibs will be on a hiding to nothing against their part-time hosts. Win, and they will be fulfilling expectations; lose, and they will suffer the humiliation of one of the tournament’s biggest-ever shocks.
With his sights set firmly on lifting the trophy, Ross simply wants his team to progress to the quarter-finals.
“We understand the interest in the game and why there’s that interest,” he added. “And I don’t think you can ever ignore that. We had it with the Dundee United game [in the previous round] and the players didn’t shy away from it. They understood people either expected, or wanted, an upset. For us, it’s just having trust in what we do.
“Ultimately, in a cup, it’s just about getting through to the next round. And, if you go on to be successful, I don’t think people remember how you get there or what happens in between.
“For me, it’s about winning the game, and if we play well we will win it. It’s about getting to the last-eight and knowing if we get there we’re a couple of games away from the final, and we have a squad that’s capable of winning those games as well.”