Mowbray's men in final bid

TONY Mowbray is urging his young Hibernian players to enjoy the occasion at Hampden Park today when they take on Dundee United in the Scottish Cup semi-final, writes Derek Davis.

TONY Mowbray is urging his young Hibernian players to enjoy the occasion at Hampden Park today when they take on Dundee United in the Scottish Cup semi-final, writes Derek Davis.

The youthful Hibs side will be met by a sea of green when they step out onto the famous old pitch in Glasgow.

Victory would put them into the final against either Celtic or Hearts, who play tomorrow, and a possible place in Europe

Mowbray said: "I have told the players to go out and enjoy the game and express themselves as they have done all season.

You may also want to watch:

"The bigger the game, the better for players. They want to play in big games and cup finals.

"For me big games are there to relish and you should not fear them. They want to be involved in Europe and all these things because it is all part of their education."

Most Read

Mowbray can remember his big day out at Wembley for the Play-off Final with Ipswich Town as if it were yesterday but admits other mammoth matches have passed him by.

He said: "You are forever reading about players saying the game went that fast they couldn't remember anything. You have to prepare so that over the 90 minutes you can soak it all in and enjoy it.

"I can't remember many of my games but I do remember my last-ever game. It was a big, big game at Wembley and I scored and Ipswich got into the Premiership. The older you get, you tend to soak it in and enjoy the occasion."

His assistant manager at Easter Road, Mark Venus, was also involved in that play-off final success and in the subsequent Premiership season when Town finished fifth and qualified for the UEFA Cup.

The duo's success in Edinburgh has exceeded expectations and has seen crowds rise as the Hibees embrace their brand of fast-flowing attack-minded football.

Irish striker Sam Morrow will be involved but with Derek Riordon and Garry O'Connor banging in 36 goals between them, it is hard for him to break in.

Hibs have been sweating all week on the availability of skipper Ian Murray, who was red-carded in the 3-2 league win over Dundee United last weekend. The SFA last night rejected the club's appeal and confirmed he will serve a three-match ban.

That could give an opportunity for Antonio Murray, who has recovered from a back injury.

For former Colchester United keeper Simon Brown the semi-final is by far the biggest game in his career so far, with the possibility of the final on May 28.

Brown said: "This will be the most important match I have played in so far in terms of what it could mean. Winning takes us into the cup final and everyone will want to be there.

"Playing at Ibrox or Parkhead in front of 50,000 or 60,000 is a big day but Saturday will be different.

"I want to play in these big games. It is going to be a big occasion. All my friends and family back in Essex have been watching our progress with interest and people who know me back home are as excited about how Hibs are playing as they are here in Edinburgh.

"I have two friends back home who are of Scottish descent. One is a Celtic fan the other Rangers but now Hibs are their second team so I've managed to convert them.

"I have been with Tottenham and Colchester and involved in the FA Cup, so I know what it means to clubs in terms of prestige and finance.

"I was only 18-19 when I was at White Hart Lane and it was a learning curve for me. It was a wrench to leave but I wanted to make my mark in football. I did that at Colchester and coming to Hibernian is the next stage."

Most players are more likely to moan about too many fixtures but Brown has found the gap between games takes some getting used to.

After a hectic life at Colchester United, where he once played 62 games in one season, Brown now performs once a week at most for Scottish Premier League side Hibernian.

He said: "When I first came here I found it difficult to adjust because we were only playing once a week.

"In England I was used to two games a week almost all the time. You didn't have to switch yourself on, it was just games, games, games.

"I have got used to my working life in Scotland now and we have built up nicely to face Dundee United.

"We have treated it as any other game, there is no point in doing anything differently."

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter