Hibs: The Last Three Years – Part One

I wasn’t sure what to write about given that I wasn’t in Ayr on Saturday and haven’t really seen much footage of it.  It was a good win.  A good shut out for Ross Laidlaw and the team.  It’s also landed us on 70 points, not Hearts nor Rangers have 70 points this season.  Only Livingston (78) and Celtic (94) have more points than us across the leagues.  Pretty good.  Aberdeen could reach it but no one else will.

Anyway, I have a strange feeling at the moment.  While delighted to be receiving the Championship Trophy on Saturday coming, I’ve also got a little sense of loss.

It’s nothing to do with going out in the semi of the cup.  I coped with that.  As most of us did.  It’s more to do with feeling like we’ve just said goodbye to three incredible years.  We’re moving on and a new chapter is opening.

The relegation was a sore day.  A very sore one.  On a day when Malpas tried to fight with fans in the crowd and Hibs threw away a two goal advantage at home.  It was just awful.  A truly devastating day in the history of this beautiful club.

Then there came hope.  Leeann Dempster could have changed her mind about coming to the club, we weren’t in the prem any more and she could have walked away.  She didn’t, she saw there was work to be done and I’m glad she wanted to take on the task.

Picking Alan Stubbs was a good decision.  I glance at my replica Scottish Cup almost every day and thank Leeann for not landing us with Ian Cathro.  We’d have probably been in league two by now if she had.

There was a feeling amongst Hibs fans that this might just be the kick up the arse we needed.  We DID need to rebuild and we did HAVE to have a good look at ourselves.  We’d partied about Hearts getting relegated yet we’d slipped down with them.  Time to get the mirror out and have a good look at ourselves.

We had competition in the league.  Hearts had been relegated as well and Rangers were floating about.  In my heart I wanted us to go straight back up but in my head I was saying we might not.  We had to rebuild literally from scratch.  It would have been a fairytale to have gone straight back up but it didn’t happen.

It was a season of mixed fortunes.  Some memorable wins over Rangers including the 4-0 win at Easter Road Christmas present on the 27th of December.  Wins over Hearts as well.  Silly losses to Queen of the South and Raith Rovers.  Stubbs was doing well.  He’d brought in our current captain, Sir David Gray, Fraser Fyvie and Liam Fontaine who are still with us as well as Malonga, Farid el Alagui and Scott Allan.  Malonga did well but didn’t settle properly although has the club in his heart.  Farid was unlucky with his injury and Scott Allan was great for us, would have flourished with us but chose the money and headed along the M8 to Celtic.

His Celtic career never took off and he’s out on loan to relegated Rotherham.  If ever a footballer chose to finish his own career it would be him.  Too big for Championship Hibs.  Look at us now, you probably should have stayed, Scott.  Of course, I don’t blame him entirely, he just had the wrong advice.  A money hungry agent, no doubt.

We finished that season second in the Championship.  Disappointing? Yes.  We went through the playoff and lost.  Dreadful.  Yet we’d gotten to the quarter final of the League Cup and the semi final of the Scottish Cup.  Was it really that bad a season? We’d come a long way under Alan Stubbs.  We couldn’t really complain about that.

Season 2015/2016 was a biggie.  Liam Craig moved on, the captain hadn’t impressed.  Malonga was on his way.

The in door opened and James Keatings crossed the city to join us, Martin Boyle joined us on a contract, Marvin Bartley arrived from Leyton Orient, John McGinn came to us from St Mirren and we welcomed him with open arms, Dylan McGeouch made the move from Celtic and then the signing of Darren McGregor.  Life long Hibs fan, he’d been released from Rangers.  We brought him home.  He belonged at Easter Road.

Just some of the amazing deals that would be done that season.  Stubbs was preparing for a huge season.

There were some stupid losses in the league that season.  A 2-1 defeat at Dumbarton right at the start of the season.  A 1-0 defeat at Ibrox not long after, that should have been our game.

We picked up Liam Henderson on loan from Celtic in August and he would be ours for the season.

For the second season running we went out the challenge cup early but that wasn’t our focus.  Our focus was promotion but somehow, as we focussed on that we ended up going on two cup runs, the League and the Scottish.

On that run we punted teams from all leagues aside.  Hearts would have us at Tynecastle and then go two nil up in the Scottish.  Paul Hanlon and Jason Cummings would take the party back to Easter Road where Jason would win the tie.

We would be in the League Cup Final only to be defeated 2-1 by Ross County.  Annoying, yes.

Our league performances faltered and closing in to the Scottish Cup semi we lost our keeper to an apprent contact lens ban.  We were stuck with a goalkeeping nightmare.  Until Conrad Logan hit the radar.  Suffered a bad injury, unfit but available, Alan Stubbs said yes.

How we love that Stubbsy said yes.  Clearly unfit, Logan took to the Hampden pitch for the semi final against Dundee United.  He was mocked.

What Conrad Logan showed was that you can be unfit but if you have a clear footballing mind you can win.  He was like a cat around his goal. He had a keepers eye and he showed that in the penalties. He was class in a fairly large glass.  Hibs were in the final.

Hibs hadn’t been able to account for themselves in the league and finished third, another year in the Championship.  However, we were in the Scottish Cup Final against new promoted Rangers.  We knew how to beat them.  We just had to do it in this game.

Anthony Stokes, a loan player from Celtic since January, had failed to woo me in five months.  I could see no reason why this would change on the 21st of May 2016.

On that sunny day in May, almost a year ago, Stokes ran out at Hampden with one clear goal in mind – Beat Rangers.  It was written all over him and it leaked out to his team-mates.  Nothing showed more intent than his two goals, the first at three minutes and his second to level the team as they’d gone behind to Rangers.  2-2 at eighty minutes.  It was headed for extra time.

Then it happened.  At 90+2 Liam Henderson drifted in a corner that club captain, David Gray headed into the net.  Hibs were on the brink of history.

A footballing miracle.  Hibs had dumped that 114-year hoodoo. We’d won the Scottish Cup.  At last, at last, at last.

Hibs fans ran onto the pitch.

 

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  1. Pingback: Hibs: The Last Three Years – Part Two | Gemma

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