IN his playing days he was known as The Quiet Man but perhaps a more apposite sobriquet would be The Green Man, considering that Pat Stanton played for only two clubs: Hibs for most of the time, and Celtic for a little while. Green is the Stanton colour and still is.

A fervent Hibs man through good and bad times, he turns up regularly at Easter Road to help out with the corporate hospitality, and he will be at Hampden today hoping that the team closest to his heart finally lays its Scottish Cup ghost. Even so, Stanton confesses that he still has a soft spot for Celtic, the team who gave him a kind of Moravcik-style conclusion to his career.

Having watched the other green lot from the other side of the pitch, and seen them collect tophies galore, Stanton often wondered if he could be a winner but, like any player past the 30 mark, he did not imagine for a second that he would discover that sensation with another club in his twilight time.

However, the game has not been blessed with many Jock Steins and it was the great man himself who saw in Pat the ideal addition to the side that was trying to maintain success as the Lisbon Lion squad broke up.

Stein had once tried to sign a youthful Stanton for Dunfermline but the son of a Hibs fanatic had eyes for only one dressing room. When Jock became manager of Hibs, it was he who switched Pat into defence.

After Stein moved to Celtic, Stanton was reinstated as a midfield man but his talents as a defender were never forgotten by that encyclopaedic brain and, as Pat turned 33, he was startled to learn that Stein wished to take him to Parkhead where he made him a back-four man again. ''Big Jock said to me 'We are losing too many daft goals; it will be your job to end that','' recalled Stanton.

He must have done all right, as he was part of the Celtic side that lifted the league-and-cup double in 1977. ''When you turned 30 in those days, you reckoned you were near the end of your career, so for me to end up with that double in my final year was something special. Of course I am still a Hibs supporter but I look for the Celtic result every week after I know how Hibs got on.''

He joined up at Parkhead at a time when Kenny Dalglish was blossoming, when the teenage Roy Aitken was already in the team and when young Tommy Burns was making the breakthrough . . . and Bobby Lennox was still accelerating past defenders.

One unexpected legacy of those two years at Parkhead is the continuing support for Celtic of his older son, Patrick. ''I made the mistake of taking him to our games at that time and he is still a Celtic fan. It just shows that taking kids to the game can be the starter for a lifelong support.''

Patrick, 29, lives on the other side of the border in South Shields and watches Sunderland most of the time but he did phone his dad on the night Hibs beat Livingston in the cup semi-final. ''Dinnae you bother going to Hampden on May 26; Celtic will be there,'' he warned.

Stanton senior, not to mention his other son, Kenneth, who follows his dad's football faith, will ignore that advice. Patrick would not have expected anything less.

For Pat, while Eddie Turnbull had great knowledge, Stein had to be the best all-round manager he has known. ''Jock had a great insight into people and never asked you to do anything that you were not capable of. He also knew how to use the press to suit himself. Jock was one of the first to realise the amount of free publicity you could get in the national back pages. If you wanted to sell a car it cost you money but you could sell your team on the back page for nothing.''

The year 1902 is etched in the recesses of the Stanton brain, just as it was in that of his father and in every Hibs fan since who will go to Hampden today and any who won't. It was then, of course, that Hibs last won the Scottish Cup which, for those who can recall some of the quality sides they have had, is scarcely credible.

''I can remember the first final I saw, when my dad took me to see Hibs play Clyde and they lost 1-0. Hibs were red-hot favourites. I can still see the disappointment on my dad's face . . . and that was in 1958,'' says Stanton who readily acknowledges that it is a mystery why teams of the calibre of the Famous Five era failed to lift the trophy at least once.

What annoys him a great deal more is that the Hibs teams with which he was associated in the sixties and seventies were good enough to collect it, too. ''It wasn't as if we were lambs going to the slaughter in those days. We were more than capable of winning it.''

Even so, it did look a little like his initial description in 1972 when he was in the side that was trounced 6-1. ''Billy McNeill scored in the first minute and it just got worse,'' he winced, before adding, more as a plea than a statement, ''but that is best left in the past.'' He prefers to recall his own success, when Celtic beat Rangers 1-0 in the final of 1977.

Stanton is not pessimistic about his club's prospects today. As a man who has also managed the club but resigned in despair as resources were denied him, Stanton admires what Alex McLeish has achieved to date. ''Alex has bought well,'' he said, ''Sauzee is an important part of the team, obviously, but so, too, is John O'Neil. He has been a very valuable player. The defence has been very steady, if you forget the final games when it was all about end-of-the-season stuff; at least I hope so.

''They have come a long way in a short spell but the depth of pool was shown up a wee bit in the closing weeks. Sauzee is a really influential character about the place. He has been around and any young player at Easter Road looking at the way Franck conducts himself on and off the park should be saying to himself: 'If that is what it takes to get to the top then I will have to do do that, too.' ''

Stanton fully accepts that Celtic are odds-on favourites but is positive enough to argue that Hibs can win. ''Of course they can, if they think they can win. The only thing they have to be careful about is not chasing things in the initial stages. They have to get themselves settled in the game and then, when they have established that, have a go.

''If they do that, they can then sow seeds of doubt in Celtic who, if they run into a bit of resistance, might have to think about things. Hibs have to ask questions of Celtic because the pressure of winning the treble is on them.

''What we can't have is Hibs coming off the park at the end not having had a go. I know from my experience that a cup final lasts seconds. Before you know it, it is over and you start saying to yourself that you wish you had done this or that. By then it doesn't matter.''

''My advice to the Hibs lads would be to enjoy it; don't think about the occasion because that will take care of itself.''

Stanton, naturally, recognises the talent of Henrik Larsson and the danger he presents but is also eager to emphasise how much the Paul Lambert-Neil Lennon double act counts for Celtic. ''They tidy up things and keep everything working but I think that one or two in the Celtic defence will have their vulnerable moments.''

He has unstinted admiration for Larsson, pointing out that teams who mark him tightly invariably find that he slips the net with devastating effect. ''He will sit tight for a few quiet minutes and then, suddenly, he is off on a run and you are done. It doesn't matter how long his hair is; he is still a great player.''

Stanton harbours a deep desire to see Hibs fans emulate the Hearts celebrations when they collected the cup in 1998. ''It went on for three days or so and Hibs supporters just went into hiding. I think if Hibs win this time, the celebrations will be quite something. I know Celtic are going for the treble but it wouldn't do any harm if Hibs won the cup, would it?''

It seemed like a rhetorical question; let's treat it as such.