Hibernian footballer Lewis Stevenson spoke of his home town pride after being honoured at the Kirkcaldy and Central Fife Sports Council Awards last Thursday.
The 29-year-old full back, a former pupil of Balwearie High School, scooped the Fife Free Press Group Sports Star of the Year Award for 2016 at the annual ceremony held inside the atrium at Fife College’s St Brycedale campus.
The award, voted for by FFP readers through the newspaper’s website, fifetoday.co.uk, followed a year in which Stevenson helped make history by being part of the Hibs side which lifted the Scottish Cup for the first time in 114 years.
Lewis, who is also the longest serving player in the current Hibs squad, held off competition from Rio paralympian Derek Rae, British GT racing champion Jonny Adam, and Women’s FA Cup winner Emma Mitchell, of Arsenal Ladies, to claim the prize.
“It was nice to win the award – there must be a few more Hibs fans in Kirkcaldy than I thought!” Stevenson told the Press.
“Football is a popular sport as well, so maybe that’s why I won it, because based on the achievements, it could’ve been anyone.
“It’s great to be recognised by my home town because I’m proud of where I come from and always keep an eye on how the Rovers are doing.
“The awards night came to my attention last year when Stevie Ray won it because I follow him in the UFC. It was a really good event and made me appreciate all the different sports that people from Kirkcaldy are involved in.”
Lewis played the full 90 minutes at Hampden last May as Hibs defeated Rangers 3-2 to bring the Scottish Cup back to Easter Road for the first time since 1902.
“I don’t think the memories from that day will ever be repeated in my football career,” he explained. “It was a day I’d dreamed about ever since I signed for Hibs and it was an amazing feeling to be part of history-making team.
“It was just more relief than anything else. There had been so much pressure on the club, and it was building each year, so as you can imagine, after waiting 114 years, and a couple of recent defeats in finals, there was a huge weight on our shoulders
“It wasn’t until the next day, with the open top bus, and you see around 150,000 people on the streets that it actually started to sink in.”
To further cement Lewis’ place as a club legend, he is the first Hibee in history to have won both national cups, following his man of the match appearance in 2007 Scottish League Cup final.
“I didn’t know that until after the Scottish Cup final, and it’s nice to have that little bit of history,” he said. “I’m sure there will be many more Hibs players in future years who will win both, but it’s nice to be able to say I was the first.”
Stevenson recently made his 350th appearance for Hibs, but with his contract up for renewal in the summer, it is still uncertain whether he will reach 400.
“When I first signed for Hibs aged 14 I never thought I would get to that number of games,” he said. “I try not to think about the future too much but I’ve loved my time at Hibs and would like to stay as long as possible.
“I’ve been here such a long time that I think it would be a shock to the system if it comes to an end but I just want to finish this season on a high by winning promotion and getting the club back to where it belongs.”
Stevenson grew up supporting Raith Rovers - so could he return home to play for them one day? “I went to school just over the railway line, so who knows what will happen in the future,” he said.