The Scottish Cup
Rangers 2 Hibernian 3, 2016
Hibernian captain David Gray was the Hampden hero as Hibs ended a 114 year wait to taste Scottish Cup success in 2016. Hibs fans had endured eleven heartbreaks in Cup Finals “since 1902” as rival fans would sing. As the trophy was raised, Sunshine on Leith echoed through the stadium, appropriately bathed in sunlight.
While Hibs and Rangers are two of the traditionally largest clubs in Scotland, this Cup Final had the unique honour of being the first to be competed for by two clubs outside the top flight. The two clubs had competed fiercely for the SPFL Championship, with the Ibrox side winning the title and Hibs arriving at the Final fresh from the disappointment of losing in the promotion Playoffs to Falkirk.
Hibs took the long way to the Cup Final, requiring replays in the Fifth round against Hearts and Quarter-Final against Inverness Caledonian Thistle. In the Semi-Final against Dundee United, debutant goalkeeper Conrad Logan was the unlikely hero, pulling off a series of stunning saves including two in the penalty shoot-out.
Rangers enjoyed a smoother path to the Final, including the morale boost of beating their old rivals Celtic on penalties in the Semi-Final.
With three weeks between Rangers’ last league fixture and the Cup Final, Hibs started quickly looking to exploit any rustiness. They were quickly rewarded. John McGinn’s trademark tenaciousness in the middle saw the ball find Anthony Stokes, who drove down the left channel. With Rob Kiernan backing off, Stokes picked his spot in the far corner to give Alan Stubbs’ side a third minute lead.
The game would flow back and forth at breakneck speed, the intensity creating openings for both sides. Rangers would draw level just before the half hour, the ageless Kenny Miller sending a bullet header past Conrad Logan from a trademark whipped cross from James Tavernier.
Rangers take control before late bedlam
Both sides would exchange excellent chances, including rattling the frame of the goal before Rangers took the lead. Boyhood fan Andy Halliday sent a shot arrowing into the far corner from outside the box.
With ten minutes to go and Hibs staring down a twelfth successive Cup Final defeat, Anthony Stokes would make his second major contribution of the day. The striker, who had been a thorn in Rangers side all day, rose highest to power a header into the top right corner from a Liam Henderson corner. Hibs were level and the prospect of extra-time loomed.
Deep into four minutes of added time, the dreams of every Hibs fan would come true. Like the second goal, a Liam Henderson corner from the right unlocked the door. This time, Hibs captain David Gray popped up to head home the winner. Bedlam reigned, on the pitch and in the stands.
After 114 long years, a Hibs captain finally got his hands on the Scottish Cup, with David Gray lifting the famous old trophy aloft, the thousands of Hibs fans inside Hampden serenading the team with Sunshine on Leith.
The celebrations would go on for days, with over 100,000 Hibees following an open top bus parade through Edinburgh to Leith. With Hibs fans having waited 114 years for a bus, they were certainly going to enjoy this one.
Hibs took the success of the Cup Final into the following season, comfortably winning promotion back to the SPFL Premiership and taking the defence of their trophy back to Hampden, reaching the Semi-Final against Aberdeen.