Hibernian

Hibs: The Last Three Years – Part Two

From Part One;

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.

What an amazing moment it was when the final whistle blew and 114-years of waiting became no more. We were Hibs, we were the Scottish Cup holders 2016.  It was ours.  If anyone expected our fans to stay in their seats they need to re-evaluate the passion that we have for our club.

In England, promotion and cup wins (particularly against difficult opponents) always bring on a surge of fans who are merely on the pitch to celebrate.  They are there looking to thank their favourite player and hopefully get a selfie with them.  They are taking pictures to remember that incredible day.

In Scotland, fans coming onto the pitch seems to consitute a “riot”.  At least, that’s how the media portrayed it and the SFA didn’t say it was anything else.  Perhaps if The Rangers fans remained in their seats (or left the ground) then less would have been made of this.

Hibs fans had to put up with headlines claiming that all of The Rangers players had been assaulted.  Despite evidence to the contrary there has not been one apology to Hibs or Hibs fans for this claim.  The article remains on line. 

The Rangers wanted an apology from us but thankfully they never got it.  Rod Petrie was right when he said we were exuberant and that we entered the pitch with no malice.

Yet, almost a year to the day we broke our hoodoo, Police Scotland and the SFA are treating this as if it was the worst moment ever in football.  It was not.  If The Rangers fans had not entered the pitch it would have been a beautiful moment.  There was no The Rangers players attacked, not one.  Not one person has been charged with attacking a The Rangers player.  Hibs should be given an apology at least.

Anyway, despite the attempts of certain parts of the media and the official organisation, Hibs fans  – and players – were euphoric.  114-years is a long time to wait for a cup but it’s what

Petrie explaining things, namely exuberance and no malice

Hibs had done and now it was over.  No one was taking that away from us.

Leith partied until the early hours of Sunday morning.  Fans waited at Easter Road for a chance to applaud the returning heros.  Then they’d return to pubs and carry on celebrating.  House parties erupted.  This was our moment, we’d taken our chance and we’d done it.

Of course, Leith wasn’t the only area that partied, across the city, the country, the world people celebrated but the home of the club bounced that night.  I woke with bruises I have no idea how I got and I didn’t even stay out that late.  We just celebrated.

Sunday May 22nd.  Another huge day.  The cup would be paraded from the city chambers to Leith Links.  This was something that we’d waited on so long that it was never going to be a quiet event.

Estimates said that over 100,000 Hibees attended the parade and I feel privileged to be a mere one of them.  I was with the bus most of the way.  I loved it.  The players singing our songs.  It was a huge afternoon.  I can write the words I feel about winning the Scottish Cup but, in print, I’ll never be able to fully describe it with the passion it deserves.

However, as much as we loved it there was a harsh reality to face up to.  Stubbs left us and we loved him and would never stop but now we had a challenge to bring in a new manager (or head coach).  This appointment would going to be a big one because the season 2016/17 was always going to be about promotion.

In June 2016 Neil Lennon was unveiled as the new Hibs head coach.  There were mixed reactions to this but one thing couldn’t be denied – Neil Lennon is a winner.  He knows how to win trophies.  His appointment created something of a seethe from certain fans of other teams.

Lennon would bring in Grant Holt in June 2016, Andrew Shinnie on a season long loan from Birmingham City, Brian Graham from Ross County on a free and Israeli goalkeeper, Ofir Marciano in August.  Marciano’s arrival was held up by red tape but finally he was able to begin his season long loan from Ashdod at the end of August.

Injuries would leave us struggling a bit mid-December.  Neil Lennon did what anyone else with connections would do, he used the emergency loan rule.  Social media went into a melt down, fans forums exploded (you know the fans I’m talking about here) and as Kris Commons was secured on a short term emergency loan we would be accused of cheating and a whole host of other things.  However, in his five appeances for us he scored two goals and filled the gap we had perfectly.

Chris Humphrey joined us on 31st December 2016, his Hibernian career would halt in February when a calf injury saw him out for weeks, only just returning to training in the last fornight or so.

Brian McLean signed at the beginning of March on a short contract.

The second social media meltdown happened at the end of February 2017 when Neil used his contacts to secure Efe Ambrose on loan until the end of the season.  Lenny perfectly within his, and our, rights to use the emergency loan rule in this way.  The entire season the goal has been promotion but niggly injuries were leaving us weak at times so Efe and his triple-back flip celebrations were more than welcome.

We played some tiresome football all season but the results were coming in.  Too many draws but the points were building up nicely.  Enough to keep us ticking along.  We had some concerns about Dundee United, Falkirk, Raith Rovers for a while and Morton when they had a surge.  They would all, in their own way, slip.  Raith Rovers right down to second bottom of the league (currently).

Going out of the league cup as early as we did was a disappointment but it gave us a run of just league games which was helpful.  A couple of challenge cup games and we were out of that leaving us with just the league to play for and…the Scottish Cup.

We were still celebrating the 21st of May when we joined the Scottish Cup on 21st January 2017.  Bonnyrigg Rose at Tynecastle, and 8-1 win for us.

Shinnie scoring the third goal at ER helping to put Hearts out the Scottish Cup Feb 2017

The draw was made for the fifth round. Hearts at Tynecastle…again.  Hearts, of course, thought they would win it.  Hearts of course were wrong but we wouldn’t win it either.  The match could hardly get going thanks to a terrible pitch.  Everyone struggled.  This one finished 0-0 and, in a repeat of the year before we would take Hearts back to Easter Road and we’d beat them.  Jason setting the tone with his goal in two minutes.  Holty added on 37 and Shinnie on 67.  Hearts would get one back three minutes later but the work was done, we’d put Hearts out the Scottish Cup AGAIN.  It was bliss.

The support gained an extra boost and the song became “Here we go, two in a row”.  The song had been sung before but it gained momentum.  Sung everywhere we went whether it be home or away, league or cup game – it joined our ever growing songlist.

The feeling of belief was rife.  Easter Road felt charged every home game and the large travelling support did everyone proud, singing their way through matches.  For months it had felt great to be a Hibby and that feeling was getting better and better.

We beat Ayr United in the quarters at Easter Road on the 4th of March.  Something of a relief as we’d only managed a draw at Easter Road with them a mere month before.  We’d set up a semi-final against Aberdeen at Hampden (Easter Road West if you prefer).  Happy days.  Our third Scottish Cup semi in three years.  We’re liking the Scottish Cup these days.

However, business to be done before then.  The league had to be won.  Really done and dusted before the semi final.

We did it by the skin of our teeth the week before the semi, on Saturday 15th of April.  We needed to win and we needed St Mirren to either beat Falkirk or hold them to a draw.  In previous years I would have rolled my eyes, Hibs never get that sort of luck so Falkirk would probably hammer St Mirren.

There was a nervous energy around Easter Road.  We were doing our bit, 3-0 in 48 minutes with QotS not looking like they were coming back but we were focussed on what was happening at the Falkirk stadium.  St Mirren had gone ahead twice and Falkirk had levelled twice. Our final whistle had gone but barely a soul moved in Easter Road.  Don’t get a late winner!

Then it came through, final result 2-2 at Falkirk.  HOORAY! We’d done it, we won the league, we won the league!  Sunshine on Leith! We’re going back up to where Hibs belong.

There not really much to say about the semi.  We lost.  It was a fantastic cup run full of great times and two in a row would have been fabulous but it wasn’t to happen.  We’d achieved our season goal and got automatic promotion.  Job done.

To go back to what I was saying on Part One, it’s strange feeling I’ve got because we’ve had three cracking years really.  We’ve rebuilt, we’re strong again.  This is a Hibs I enjoy watching.  A lot has changed, attitudes being one thing, but just overall we’ve spent three years in the Championship focussing on everything that was wrong and making it right.  We’re not perfect but we’re ready for the new challenge next season.  It feels like, as much as Leeann, Stubbsy and Lenny (and everyone else behind the scenes) have helped rebuild the club, that the fans have contributed just as much to bringing this club back to the Premiership.  The outstanding support, the increase in ST sales, the travelling support, all there boosting the team and showing that if you give us something, Hibs, we will give you a whole lot back.

Saturday 6th of May 2017 we’ll run out at Easter Road for our last game in the Championship.  We’ll hoist the Championship cup high and we’ll celebrate – again – the achievements of the last three seasons.

We’re back where we belong.  Next season is going to be a biggie.  Fixtures due out Friday 23rd June.

GGTTH

Can’t forget We Are Hibs by Graeme Hunter

 

 

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.

 

Scottish Cup magic ends but the pride in Hibs goes on

“Here we go, two in a row”.

We sung it and we sung it proud because from the very start of this seasons defence of our cup win we believed we could do it.  And why not? We, as a championship team, had won it last season leaving premiership teams in our wake as we headed to the final to break our 114 year Scottish Cup drought. Continue reading

Third Time Lucky! Hibs are the Championeeeeeees! 🏆

What.  A.  Day.

What a day Saturday was.

Finally, after three long years, Hibs have gained automatic promotion from the Championship to the Scottish Premier League.  We’ve done it.  We’ve actually done it.

What a journey it’s been just over the last three years.  Another bumpy ride on the rollercoaster that is Hibernian, but I wouldn’t choose any other rollercoaster to ride. Continue reading

Boring Hibs while SFA show they haven’t a clue

You pretty much don’t have to attend a Hibs game at the moment to know how the script goes.

Hibs turn up, league leaders, really needing a win just to be safe and come away with a draw or a boring win instead.  Or, in the case of St Mirren, a loss.  As league leaders we should be blowing away those below us in the first forty-five, if not then in sixty-minutes but we’re not, we’re like a gentle breeze. Continue reading

Square go’s, red cards and a frustrating Hibs display

Never particularly like to start a Hibs blog with comments about refereeing but I am this time.  Nick Walsh had an absolute nightmare of a game on Wednesday evening at Easter Road.  Completely inconsistent throughout the entire match and then, in injury time, Kudus Oyenuga took out Jordon Forster in a complete leg-breaker of a tackle.  Seconds later, Darren McGregor comes over to him.  Now, Nick Walsh is standing in between McGregor and Oyenuga when the heads came together, in a “let’s go then” challenge, not a headbutt.  However, Oyenuga decided to play for a BAFTA, took a moment to think and held his head and fell down. Continue reading

Efe little thing is gonna be alright 🕺🏾

It’s another Saturday and it’s another visit to Easter Road.  How would it play out? No one knew.  It’s Hibs, it’s anyone’s guess.

I had thought about doing this blog as a vlog, something I am keen to try out, but I have a case of the hiccups that’s driving me insane.  I’ve tried the drinking the glass of water from the other side thing, didn’t work.  Held my breath, didn’t work so here we hiccing go. Continue reading

Consistenly inconsistent, but that league title is ours

If there’s one thing you can be entirely sure of with Hibs it’s that they’ll be inconsistent.  It’s the only thing they are consistent with.  Not that it’s a new thing.  Most Hibees will have seen this and may feel the same.  What the hell happens to us?

At least once a season, usually about this time of year, we have a spell where we just…I don’t know.  Do you ever get that weird feeling when your sugar levels drop and a lethargy over comes you? That seems to be what happens with Hibs.  Something similar anyway.  It’s like a lethargy shrouds us and we just lose it. Continue reading

Red cards and handbags at Tannadice but Hibs win, the league is ours

In all honesty I have no idea where to start with this blog.  After watching Dundee Utd v Hibs I am under no illusions who is the better team (Hibs – natch) but what a game.  What a refereeing disaster.

I’ll admit to nerves going into this game.  Hibs Cup performances of late have been off the park but our leagues games have not been great.  Scrappy, perhaps. Continue reading

Cup romance must wait, Hibs need to woo the League

‘Here we go, two in a row’.  It’s got a nice ring about it.  The cup romance is still with us.  We’re still in love with the whole experience.  Having failed to win it in 114-years we now face the fairytale of winning it for the second time.  Oh what a time to be alive.

I don’t like bringing this up but I’m sure every Hibby remembers Sunday the 25th May 2014.  We remember all right.  After an absolute shambles Hibs were relegated from the SPL to the Scottish Championship.  I remember the feeling of being absolutely lost.  I remember the tears running down my cheeks, the scarves flying from above me onto the pitch.  The boos.  I saw other people crying, children and adults.  Old timers too. Continue reading

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