Hibernian head coach Jack Ross has challenged his players to earn a place in the club’s folklore as they look to go one better in the Scottish Cup semi-finals.
Hibs have been in the last four in four consecutive competitions now but are looking to reach their first final since their 2016 Scottish Cup triumph.
Five of the squad that took the trophy back to Easter Road for the first time in 114 years are still with the club and Ross wants the remainder of his squad to join them in the history books.
Ross, who has Kevin Nisbet and Jamie Murphy back in squad for Saturday’s Hampden clash with Dundee United, said: “To make yourself part of the club’s very fabric and history, you win silverware.
“That’s what the players did in 2016 and rightly deserve their place in club folklore. This group that I’m working with at the moment have that opportunity. It’s there for them to do that.
“They will shift from a group of players that people remember as having had a good season or performing at a level that this club hasn’t done regularly enough, to one that goes down in folklore and that’s a very obvious incentive for them as well.”
The Hibs players will have heard from team-mates about that 2016 final win against Rangers – defenders David Gray, Darren McGregor, Paul Hanlon and Lewis Stevenson all played while Martin Boyle was an unused substitute.
But those who have since arrived are usually treated to footage of the trophy presentation and the bus parade through Edinburgh, which drew an estimated 150,000 crowd.
“If you come to our training ground there’s a few reminders of that day,” Ross said. “Everyone who comes to our club is aware of how big a day that was because of the history prior to it.
“It’s unfortunate that events of the last year mean there is a very different feel to the semi-finals and final because of the absence of supporters and what would lie ahead in the aftermath as well.
“But the one thing it does do, is it fully highlights the size of this club and what it means to so many people. That’s something we use to make sure players fully appreciate how fortunate we are but also the responsibility we have as well.
“This year we feel that responsibility more than ever. We know that by performing on the pitch and bringing success we bring some enjoyment and relief to people who have been frustrated at not being able to come to games and perhaps how much it has affected their life in general.
“It’s a big driver for us, it’s our way to reward people for the loyalty they have shown. We have another opportunity to do that on Saturday.”
Ross arrived after Hibs’ Betfred Cup semi-final loss last season but has presided over two last-four defeats in the past seven months, including a delayed Scottish Cup loss to Hearts.
“Previous experiences don’t count for anything because it’s a game on its own merit,” he said.
“However, we have had the soreness of losing two semi-finals relatively close together and one thing that does do is give you that acute reminder of what that feels like. And it is painful.
“You can either not want to get back there to avoid that, or get back there and make sure you come out on the right side.
“We have a group that’s fully determined to have that positive feeling in the aftermath of Saturday’s game.”
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Matt Macey has signed a new two-year contract.
Macey joined Hibs from Arsenal in January as understudy to the soon-to-depart Ofir Marciano and has played in every round of the Scottish Cup so far.
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