Hibernian ended 114 years of pain to win the Scottish Cup in a classic final at Hampden that should help turn around the fortunes of the Easter Road club.
An injury time winner by David Gray secured a 3-2 victory, re-wrote the history books and turned a growing mood of resignation into one of optimism for next season.
Finally ending the hoodoo that had become one of Scottish football’s longest-running jokes will instil belief in the Edinburgh club which had been sapped of confidence following defeat to Ross County in the League Cup final and to Falkirk in the Premiership play-off final.
Positivity will now swirl around success-starved Leith for the first time in years. Putting a trophy in the cabinet will compensate for an imminent third successive season in the Championship and provide a springboard for the team to win the division.
Hibernian will have the added bonus of qualifying for the Europa Cup, entering the competition at the second round stage and providing the prospect of some glamour ties for the long-suffering fans.
The result may also encourage manager Alan Stubbs to stay – although this achievement will also raise his attractiveness to other clubs. It should in any case give him greater bargaining power in attracting transfer targets, while galvanising a squad that managed to avoid ending the season empty-handed.
The match sadly ended with ugly scenes of fighting as exuberance got out of hand, but the police were able to restore order quickly.
It meant, however, that the Rangers players – who complained of being assaulted by Hibs fans – had to be given their finalists’ medals in the dressing room.
The post-match events cast a shadow over a great occasion. With ten minutes remaining, the trophy appeared to be heading to Ibrox for the 34th occasion until the Hibs striker Anthony Stokes scored his second goal and the captain followed up with a powerfully struck header that claimed the spoils.
Andy Halliday’s long range effort in the second half added to Kenny Miller’s first half equaliser after Stokes had given Hibs a third minute lead.
Hibs, who last won the trophy in 1902, had the best of the first half hour but Rangers came back into the game and appeared on course for their third trophy of the season.
Apart from the goals, Stokes saw a shot rebound off the post and Miller crashed a header against the bar.
Fans spilled on to the pitch at the end and mounted police had to keep order in scenes reminiscent of the 1980 Cup Final. The Scottish Football Association condemned violence between the supporters and said it would instigate an inquiry.
Hibernian are the first club from outside the top division to win the Scottish Cup since East Fife in 1938. Alan Stubbs became the first English manager to lead a club to victory in the Scottish Cup since Reg Smith brought the trophy back to Falkirk in 1957.