‘He was in tears and said ‘my grandad died the happiest man in the world,” Fraser Fyvie on Hibs’ 2016 Scottish Cup triumph

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THE rendition of Sunshine on Leith gave him chills.

The sight of 150,000 supporters on the streets of Edinburgh left him flabbergasted.

However, the timeless enormity of Hibernian’s Scottish Cup triumph truly hit home for Fraser Fyvie six months later.

Scottish Cup winner: Fyvie played the full 90 minutes in the 3-2 win over Rangers

Fyvie was enjoying a free pint in the nation’s capital – “I’ve not had to pay for a drink in Edinburgh since 2016,” he notes – and was embraced by a weeping Hibee.

He recalls: “He came up to me in tears, give me a cuddle and said ‘thank you’.

“I was a bit confused until he said ‘my grandad passed away two weeks after the final, at 80 – but he died the happiest man in the world’.

“He was showing me his phone, with pictures of all his grandad’s memorabilia. He’d been to the majority of those Scottish Cup final defeats and went through failure after failure.

“So the idea that we had that effect on someone’s life is surreal. That’s when it clicks that you have done something really special for Hibs fans.

“There are occasions when you win something and say ‘great, now let’s get on with next season’. This was something more.

“To this day, I’ll still get Hibs fans chatting to me in Edinburgh about their memories of that day and it’ll never get old.”

It was an outpouring of emotion 114 years in the making.

•    •    •

Hibs’ Scottish Cup woes dated back to 1902 and included 10 defeats at the final hurdle.

Their 5-1 hammering at the hands of city rivals Hearts in the 2012 showpiece was still recent and raw, while the 3-0 reverse against Celtic 12 months later was so routine as to be eminently forgettable.

So, you could have forgiven Alan Stubbs’ squad for feeling the weight of expectation heading into their encounter with Rangers, particularly given their Championship promotion bid had been ended courtesy of a 5-4 aggregate defeat to Falkirk eight days earlier.

However, nothing could have been further from the truth. Fyvie simply knew Hibs would lift the trophy.

Expanding on that cocksure streak, he pinpoints the calming influence of head coach Stubbs, the desire among the players to prove a point and, notably, questions Rangers’ decision to allow some of their number to jet off to Dubai when their own league campaign ended.

Winner: Alan Stubbs lifts the Scottish Cup

Fyvie continues: “They had been off for a couple of weeks after winning Championship, whereas we had been in the playoffs. So a few of their boys that I know went to Dubai, had a bit of a party.

“Two weeks before a cup final? Not for me.

“You come back, haven’t played for three weeks and haven’t touched a ball in 14 days, so you are looking at a couple of days to just knock the rust off.

“And in the first half of the final, especially, I just thought ‘these guys aren’t on it today’.

“We had prepared at Cameron House and Alan Stubbs, whose man management was second to none, kept us calm but focused. There were no huge changes to our preparation but we knew what was at stake and what we were capable of.

“We had a Premiership quality side, all with similar experiences and points to prove.

“Dylan [McGeouch] had been at Celtic, I’d been at Wigan, John [McGinn] was looking to show his quality – look at him now – Hendo [Liam Henderson] was on loan from Celtic and determined to show what he could do.

“David Gray and [Liam] Fontaine wanted to prove themselves after spells in England, Paul Hanlon and Stevo [Lewis Stevenson] led by example and big Daz McGregor would batter you if you didn’t put the work in.

“We knew we could beat that Rangers team. Even on the bus going to the stadium on the morning of the game, all the boys were saying the same thing: there’s no way we are losing this final.”

While his pre-match confidence was unshakable, Hibs’ victory was narrow. It required a 92nd-minute header from David Gray to make it 3-2 and prevail in one of the most thrilling Hampden denouements of all-time.

Fyvie adds: “To this day, one of the biggest things I remember about the build-up was Stubbsy saying ‘if we get a set-piece, [James] Tavernier is at the front-post – if we can get the ball on his head, we’ll score’. He was terrible in the air and we scored two goals from it.”

The rest, as they say, is history.

Parade: Hibs’ open-top bus celebrations begin on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile

Hibs ended more than a century of hurt by lifting their Holy Grail while 20,000 fans serenaded them with a spine-tingling chorus of The Proclaimers’ club anthem.

The party continued 24 hours later when 150,000 supporters lined the open-top bus route between the City Chambers and Leith Links.

He continued: “As soon as the full-time whistle blew, I knew exactly what we had achieved.

“It was the best thing I have ever been part of in football and I don’t think anything will ever replicate the feeling the boys got that day – but it’s what you chase.

“The best part of the day was standing with the cup and listening to Sunshine on Leith. It’s a moment I find hard to put into words.

“I never knew Hibs had so many supporters until the parade the next day. We got to the bottom of Leith Walk and I just said ‘Oh my God.’ A lot of the boys, including myself, could not believe it.

“That was the moment my whole family became Hibs fans!”

Fyvie’s only regret is that the pitch invasion denied players the opportunity to parade the trophy on the Hampden turf, rueing: “I couldn’t believe we didn’t get back on the pitch. That was a sucker-punch.

“To take our families around the pitch would have been incredible – but if I was a Hibs fan I’d have probably run onto the pitch too after 114 years!”

 •   •   •

“Everything happens for a reason.”

Fyvie, after reminiscing on the pinnacle of his career to date, is now touching on the moment he considered walking away from football altogether. At 21.

A precocious playmaker, Fyvie made his top-flight Aberdeen debut in August 2009 at the age of 16 and four months, making him the youngest player to ever represent the club. That torch has since been passed to Dean Campbell.

His performances were of sufficient promise to earn a move to English Premier League side Wigan Athletic in 2012. By the end of his maiden campaign he had an FA Cup winners’ medal in his pocket after being an unused substitute in their 1-0 win over Manchester City.

FA Cup: Fyvie, right, at Wembley ahead of Wigan’s FA Cup triumph (Pic: Twitter @F_Fyvie)

However, Roberto Martinez’s departure in 2013 was a watershed moment. Fyvie was overlooked by his successor Owen Coyle and, when he left after just six months at the helm, endured a woeful relationship with the next gaffer Uwe Rosler.

Fyvie claims the German coach belittled him, sought to force him out of the club and made him question whether he wanted any part of professional football.

He recalled: “After [Roberto] Martinez left Wigan, I had such a bad experience with the managers who took over, especially Uwe Rosler. He almost destroyed me. I was 21 and thinking about giving up football.

“He just hammered me. He told me I couldn’t play football, I wasn’t a midfielder, I couldn’t run and I shouldn’t have got a move to Wigan. He nailed me to the floor trying to get rid of me.

“He was trying to force me out of the club and if it was any other business, it would get taken to HR. Maybe that’s what I should have done, but I was a young boy down there on my own and wasn’t sure about what to do.

“Rosler got sacked and when Malky [Mackay] came in he was honest and said he wanted to go with experience for a relegation battle and I could go.”

While his time with the Latics ended under a cloud, it afforded Fyvie the opportunity to work under highly-regarded coach John Doolan, who later became Stubbs’ number two at Easter Road, paving the way for the midfielder to return to Scotland in February of 2015.

He continued: “I believe that everything happens for a reason. I knew John Doolan from Wigan and he was always great with me and kept me in mind when he was at Hibs.

“Stubbsy had been in contact with my agent and just said ‘drive up and we’ll get you in’.

“I met with him and [chief executive] Leeann Dempster and he said ‘I don’t care what people are saying about you, John Doolan says you’re worth it, so there’s a six-month contract, £250-a-week’.

“I swear, I didn’t even look at the money before I signed.”

So began what Fyvie describes as the most enjoyable period of his career. Indeed, if it were a footballing decision, he would never have left the club in the summer of 2017. There was an extended contract on the table. Neil Lennon wanted him to stay.

However, he was keen to decamp north for family reasons and signed for Dundee United. An ultimately unfulfilling two years followed before he joined Cove Rangers last August. He has subsequently found form, fitness and contentment and – in light of the decision to call the campaign – is now a League 2 champion.

He adds: “Choosing to leave [Hibs] was more about my family and moving back up the road.

“It wasn’t even close to being a footballing reason and, with the benefit of hindsight and only talking about football, I should have stayed, 100 per cent. But in terms of my family life, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. That comes first.”

 
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