THERE can't be too many with Hearts sympathies who will admit they were glad they weren't there when the Tynecastle side earned a place in the Scottish Cup final, overcoming Celtic last week.
David Templeton would seem to be one of them, though.
The 23-year-old was an unused substitute in the semi-final at Hampden as he closes in on a competitive return from a persistent groin injury, but was just one booking away from missing the final against Hibernian. After the last-minute penalty from Craig Beattie, only Ryan McGowan joined in with the striker's topless dash past the Hearts supporters, with Marius Zaliukas, Rudi Skacel, Andrew Driver, Darren Barr, Danny Grainger and Suso Santana all acutely aware they were just one booking away from sitting out the final.
Barr later confessed that he made a conscious decision not to leave the field of play in case he picked up a yellow card. However, Templeton cannot say for certain that he would have been quite so sensible.
"Honestly, I think I would have followed Beats. You just get caught up in the moment in that situation and you want to celebrate with everyone," said the Hearts winger. "I would probably have gone right into the fans and everything so I'm kind of glad the manager didn't put me on. Obviously you want to get on during the game, but afterwards I was a bit relieved because if I had got on and received a yellow card I would have been really disappointed that night."
The former Scotland under-21 internationalist has not featured for Hearts since limping off against Motherwell on February 18. He is in contention to face Rangers tomorrow, as focus shifts from the Scottish Cup final back to the Tynecastle club's quest for European football.
"Everyone is delighted to get to the cup final, but as soon as the celebrations die down you have to focus on the next game – that's always your most important one," said Templeton. "We're looking forward to Saturday against Rangers and, hopefully, I can get back playing and get some minutes under my belt. I missed quite a lot of big games while I was out, so I'm happy to be back for the top-six matches and the cup final."
He is not alone in stepping into the first-team squad at the right time. Paul Grant has shown similar good fortune after he was promoted to become back-up goalkeeper for Hibs for the rest of the season. That will mean the teenager will be placed on the bench for the Scottish Cup final.
That is some progression given Grant started the campaign behind Graham Stack, Mark Brown and Calum Antell. Stack will play no further part this season due to a hamstring injury, while Antell's loan move to East Stirlingshire has forced Hibs to promote Grant. He will take his place on the bench against Kilmarnock on Sunday.
"It's scary just how quickly everything can change," he said. "I cannot wait for it to happen, that is what you work hard for. I'm gutted for Stacky and, originally, I thought he would only be out for a couple of weeks. I've travelled with the first team squad before and I've got a feeling about what it is all about."
Pat Fenlon, the Hibs manager, meanwhile, has confidence Brown to prove himself a worthy stand-in for Stack. "I said when I came in we had two very good goalkeepers," he said.