Tag Archives: alan stubbs

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.

 

Henderson to deliver….

Lately, when I’ve been feeling a little low or in need of a general feel good moment I have fired up the Scottish Cup Final of 2016 and watched the last few minutes.

It’s Henderson to deliver…and David Gray has scored, the Captain! Hibs are on the brink of history!

Still get a thrill from watching it.  The corner, the header, the reaction.  What a day.  What a weekend.  I still can’t properly explain it to people.  I’ll say “it was just…amazing.”

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We’ve only bloody won it!

“Stokesy’s on fire, your defence is terrified!”

A chant that pretty much tells the story of last Saturday.  Anthony Stokes hasn’t over impressed me since his signing but if I had any doubts about him they were gone on Saturday.  Stokesy was saving the best for last.  He was like a man possessed and Rangers couldn’t pin him down.  He wanted that cup on Saturday and he was going to get it.

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Hibs in the play offs. Here we go, here we go, here we go!

Here we go, here we go, here we go! Into the play-0ff quarter-final we go.  Not ideal but it is what it is and we have to deal with that.

Hibs did nothing wrong on Sunday.  We won the match and on a different day we’d have been dancing about like Carlton.

Sadly, Falkirk won theirs to and they finished second but on goal difference only.  Which made us third on goal difference only.

It was the players I felt for, they really pushed themselves on Sunday as they have for the majority of the season and I thought they didn’t getting the ending they deserved.  However, every single one of them will fight tooth and nail for promotion, I have no worries about that.

pink lady

Missing

So, a twelve-thirty kick-off so Rangers could manage a draw at St Mirren Park live on TV it was.  I’ll admit to hitting the snooze button more than once in the morning.  Then when I did get up I had the usual rush and left the house half awake and roasting hot hoping that I’d packed everything I needed.  This included a pack of already sliced Pink Lady apple which was definitely in my bag when I left the house.

The steward at the ground asked me to open my rucksack and asked what was in my bag.  Water, soda water with orange in it, trousers…then he felt my bag asking if I had any cans in it.  I assured him not and then he said he’d have to smell my bottles.  I though in the name of the wee man, I am bursting for the latrine. So I handed him my bottle of soda water and orange whilst warning him that it was fizzy and had been in my bag, too late, he’d started to opening it…he asked me to finish opening it whilst wiping liquid from his hands onto his jacket.  I opened it and he sniffed it. I doubt he smelled anything, only my lip gloss.

Next was my Britta filter bottle.  You know the type, filter goes in the lid, fill it with water and Bob’s your uncle as you drink it it gets filtered.  Genius.  So I was a bit concerned when he asked to smell that.  I’m sure if I wanted to sneak in a bottle of vodka I wouldn’t pick a Britta filter bottle but hey ho.  Once I’d packed up my bag again he thanked me, more than once.  Honestly, I was working Sunday, so not sure why I would be sneaking drink into the ground.  I wouldn’t anyway though sometimes I advocate bars in the ground…

Anyway.  Sir Alan of Stubbs started off with a team that had Jason Cummings on the bench and a start for hatrick hero James Keatings.  Conrad Logan kept the gloves and Liam Fontaine made a start as well.  Niklas Gunnarsson also kept his start as well.  He’s a player I really value.  He’s fast, he works hard and he sneaks about so while teams think they have him covered he just pops up elsewhere and does the job.  Like today when he scored our opener in the 67th minute.  He is the one player I would say is mostly unlikely to score, yet he does.  Not always but he’s capable.

Iain Russell moan

Moan of the Match Iain Russell

Man of the Match went to Hibs Liam Henderson but Moan of the Match should go to QotS’s Iain Russell.  That lad moaned about absolutely everything.  Still, he got a good telling off from the West stand with the best shout being “Shut up you!” which everyone agreed with.  That was after Russell said “hey you” to the linesman, “he was pulling my shirt”.  Stop greeting lad, he should have pulled the shirt over your head and given us all peace.

Jason gave us our second goal thirteen minutes after he replaced Fraser Fyvie.  A lot of people are doubting JC at the moment but I can’t.  This is a lad that has visibly grown as a player under Stubbs.  He tries his absolute hardest everytime he’s on the pitch and now he’s fighting for his place he comes on as a sub and works hard.  He makes mistakes, show me a player who doesn’t, but he knows what he’s being asked to do and he does it more often than not.

I’m an Oxley fan but I’m glad Conrad Logan has the gloves at the moment.  Showing Ox that he’s not automatically first choice means he needs to up his game to get back into the starting gloves.  Conradge hasn’t had much to do in the last two games but he’s eyes on the game all the time and never loses concentration, a very good thing going into the play-offs.  I would stick with him.

So here we go.  We’ve all paid our money and we’re about the get on the Hibernian Play Off Rollercoaster.  We need to beat Raith at Starko Parko and then again at Easter Road and then go on to play Falkirk home and away.  I know wins aren’t necessary in all the games it would be nice.  We don’t need extra minutes in both fixtures before the final.

green rollercoaster

The Hibernian rollercoaster, jump on for an exciting ride!

As for the Pink Lady apple pack I never saw them again.  I searched high and low but that little packet of apple slices has gone.  So I do apologise to the person who will find a packet of fusty apple slices in the next few days…

Anyway, back to the football.  I believe we can do this.  It’s not beyond us.  But we have to get behind the team and support them.  We have to let them know we are there and there is no better way of doing that than filling Easter Road on Saturday.  I don’t think asking £15 is a lot to ask for.  Get behind the team! My seat is booked and paid for.  I won’t let them down and I’m sure they won’t let us down.

The Hibernian rollercoaster never stops.  Pay the money and get on! It’s a helluva ride!

 

All aboard the Hibernian rollercoaster!

It’s a new week and a new Hibernian riddle.  Well, not really.  We’re used to it but there we go, exciting game and a WIN (yes, it’s true) against Rangers last Wednesday night at the Leith San Siro and then a game to cure insomnia on Saturday against Morton in Greenock.

Not to forget the POTY awards on Sunday evening.  I can’t remember who I voted for in each category but I’m sure it was all the lads that won.  If it wasn’t then…meh.

Number 1 Easter Road

Toot toot! Number 1 tae Easter Road

Last Wednesday I was running late for the game.  Bit ridiculous really since I was off that day and should have all the time in the world to prepare but you know…time to catch up on other stuff, bit of research and all that and of course, get to Easter Road at a reasonable time.  Noooooo.  I will point out that my bus got caught in traffic.  You’d think that sitting in the West Stand I would get a limo provided but apparently this doesn’t come as part of the season ticket.  Bit ridiculous but I’ll let it slide.

And so, as the bus, the No 1, signalled left to turn onto Easter Road I spotted them.  The deluge of Rangers supporters descending on Easter Road (the street).  Their buses had obviously been delayed somewhere along the line which meant that, yes, I was going to fall in step with the fans as they marched towards their south stand seats.

Getting off at the second stop in Easter Road I surveyed the situation.  I could travel via the non-Rangers route of Albion Road therefore adding time to the journey or I could do what I always do, nip through Bothwell Street and over the bridge into Albion Terrace and back onto Albion Road from there.  This would involve being amongst a hundred or so Rangers supporters.  That was fine.  I am stubborn and have no fear (apart from peas) so I wasn’t about to let the Rangers supporters put me off my normal route.

To be fair to them, they never said a wrong word to me about being Hibs.  They sang their songs, they waved their flags and in fact a few of them shared a laugh with me about getting caught up with them.  Therefore proving that not all their fans are monsters.  This is something we know, of course.

Upon arrival at my gate I peeled off from them to find two policemen looking at me.

“I’ve no idea how I ended up among that lot!” I joked with them.

Only one of them got the humour and replied that he’d wondered that as it was like they parted as I arrived at the gate.  Funny moment.  And why not?

kitten

Gunnarsson gets a start?!

So, into the game.  I nearly had kittens earlier when I saw the team line up and Niklas Gunnarsson had a start.  This guy has had a tough time in getting into the teams first eleven but here he was and deservedly so.  And he would prove this as the game went on.  Mr Wallace, previously free on that wing now had a challenge.  Good.

Jason Cummings, partially redeemed Villian of the Scottish Cup Semi Final of the Saturday before with his missed dink penalty during the match but winning penalty in the shootout, scored in the fifth minute against Rangers.  Jason loves an early goal but especially against Rangers and he didn’t disappoint.  Superb.

Foderingham had a goalkeepers nightmare that allowed for us to go 2-0 up. However we had our own as well and the game ended 3-2 for us.  It was a game that had controversy as do all games now but needs discussed at a later date.  Officials are not up to the job and this needs to be acknowledged and I doubt it will be with the SFA not wanting to know.

One of my favourite calls at the moment is “just because he goes down doesn’t mean it’s a foul!”.  Football is a contact sport, collisions will result in someone falling, it doesn’t mean that a foul has been committed but refs are blowing their whistles too quickly – some of them are – or are responding to the ever popular claim by player.  This annoys me a lot, the claiming and not paying attention to the game.  If the ref is going to blow his whistle then he will blow his whistle and he should NEVER be influenced by the players.  He might get a word in his ear from a linesman, which is fine, but if they are reacting to players claims then that is wrong.  I’m not saying this does happen but it sometimes looks like it.

White male caucasian young adult on bed with head on pillow with eyes wide open staring off into space at the camera. Afraid of the dark.

I can’t sleep.  I should watch the highlights of our game with Morton.

Anyway, back to Hibs.  Saturday at Morton was one of those games we should have won and done so comfortably but after hammering Rangers we had something of a sleep in Greenock.  A shame because a win would have put us on the front foot going into Tuesday’s game against Dumbarton.

It was freezing in Easter Road on Tuesday, the weather is all over the place.  I dodged a couple of hail showers.  Anyway, back went on the several layers of clothing, so called my Winter Football Clothing.  The week before I sat in Easter Road with a hoodie on.  And trousers of course.  This week it was the thermal tights, big woolly jumper and three in one jacket.  And the white Nikes, of course.  I had chips at half time, it was so cold they were freezing by the time I finished them.

Tuesday night wasn’t about the weather though, it was about the game.  Mr Stubbs made a few changes from the Morton game.  John, McGinn, Martin Boyle and James Keatings all made starts along with hero of the moment Conrad Logan.  It proved to be a successful move as Keats scored a hatrick and Stokes put the cherry on the cake to make it four nil the final score.

There was, of course, controversy over Keats third goal as it was given as an own goal but match referee, Don Robertson, reviewed this and awarded the well deserved hatrick to Keats the following day.

Hibs went into Tuesday’s game aiming to cut the goal difference with Falkirk and with four goals that’s just what we did.  Leaves us with a task on Sunday but we’re up for it.

Conrad Logan also did do his bit in the game as well.  While not facing the same pressure as he did at the semi-final he made a cracking one-on-one save as Dumbarton’s Calum Waters thundered towards him.  It was crucial not lose goals on Tuesday and the big felly made sure we didn’t.  I didn’t realise how noisy he is though.  Oxley likes a shout or two, Logan is constant.  It’s not a negative thing, it means he is watching the game and keeping players informed all the time.  Can’t be a bad thing, can it?

So the league finishes on Sunday with kick-off at 12:30pm so that the pointless game between St Mirren and Rangers can be shown on TV.  Terrible to be sitting at lunch time on a Sunday to watch the last game of the regular season.  I’m a traditionalist me, Saturday at 3pm.  Though I do like the weekday floodlit games.  Sunday at half twelve, nah.

It is what it is though and we have to win the game by a good margin.  We want to firmly take second place.

There’s a small part of me that’s glad we’re in the play-offs.  Naturally I would have preferred to be automatically promoted but that didn’t happen and when I think about it because we’re in the final of the Scottish Cup it’s possibly going to help us.  While Rangers face three weeks without a comepetitve match we, instead, have those matches.  Finishing second would be perfect.  Rangers went off the boil the moment they won the league and being beat 1-0 by Livi shows that.  They’re not preserving energy, they’ve just stopped.  With a three week lay off and only a bounce game with Spurs to give them proper match time it’s going to be tough for the bread man to keep them focussed.

Alan Stubbs has a different problem.  He needs to make sure we’re not tired and we’re fired up for the final.  We will be.  I don’t think it will be a problem and I’m glad we’ve no time off because that hasn’t done us well this season.  We seem to be better when the pressure is on.

Season ticket

Go on, buy one!

Season tickets are on sale at the moment though the early bird option has gone.  Now, though, there is the chance to purchase a ticket using a different payment plan with four payments.  Worth it if you’re wanting a ticket for Hampden as the first wave goes to season ticket holders.  Of course, it means you’ll be able to stroll into the ground for each league home match next season and have access to Behind the Goals before matches.  You get to have your own seat for cup games and first choice for tickets for big games not at Easter Road.  The best thing about a season ticket is confirming your support for Hibernian.  There can be nothing better than that.

So there we are.  A waiting game until Sunday and to see where we place.  Fingers crossed it’s second but if not we’ll battle for promotion and we’ll battle to bring the Scottish Cup back to Easter Road.  Never say never.

From two-nil to Conrad Logan, a week with Hibs

Here we go.  Time to try and figure out Hibs again.  As if there’s any solving that enigma.  Hibs fans have been through every emotion this season and it’s not over.

We're back

If only

Sitting in Easter Road on Tuesday night I thought “we’re back”.  We played exceptionally well for the most part and, of course Jason scored via a Falkirk lapse and then a penalty later in the game.  It was Jason’s 100th game for the club and it was fitting that he should get the two goals for the win.  Because it was going to be going to be a win, surely, with 85 minutes gone and 2-0 and with Hibs playing like they hadn’t in a few weeks.

I personally don’t believe Mark Oxley is to blame really or even any of the rest of the players, I think Falkirk simply got lucky and thankfully they didn’t get any luckier.  We snatched a draw out of the jaws of victory.  To be optimistic, at least we got one point instead of none.  Though we should have had three.

However, it was what it was.  The Falkirk fans had a good old sing-song leaving Easter Road with a good old rendition of “Two Nil and you F***ed it Up!”.  We can hardly complain about anyone else singing it as it was recently in our repertoire but still, it was bloody annoying to hear it being sung by another set of fans against us.  As they headed away from Easter Road a small part of me hoped their buses broke down on the way home or their trains were delayed…

Leaving Tuesday behind, where it belongs, we went into the weekend not on league duty but Scottish Cup duty.  A semi-final against Dundee United who we’d already seen off 3-0 in the League Cup earlier in the season.

Sfa

Dinosaurs, we know who they are

Hampden bound, yet again.  I know the SFA like to have the Scottish Cup semi’s in Hampden but there was a case this weekend that some semi-finals could be held at another neutral ground, say Tynecastle.  A very empty Hampden is an eerie place to be.  Whereas Tynecastle would have been a sell-out with an electric atmosphere.  Much like Hibs’ League Cup semi-final against St Johnstone. Not that the atmosphere was bad at Hampden, but it might have been better at a sell out ground.  These things need considered.  If not by the dinosaurs then by the clubs.

Anyway, semi-final time.  Twelve-fifteen kick-off.  Arrrrrgh! Who decides these things? Well, TV companies but you know what I mean.  Back in the day if you read 12:15 as a kick-off time it meant someone had made a typing error.

So, Hibs started out well.  Dundee United looked like they were in for a pasting.  Well, that’s what we hoped.  We were all over them and then our dreams were answered.  Just before the half hour mark a Coll Donaldson hand ball gifted Hibs a penalty.  Jason stepped up.  Sure footed these days, this was a cert.

Only it wasn’t as Jason attempted a Panenka style dink that he hoped would drop over the goalkeeper but instead dinked over the bar.

Antonin-Panenka-001

King of the Dink

Now, Alan Stubbs has said he could have strangled Jason after that but for the fans it was a hero to zero situation.  What was going through the lads mind? He’s been accused of thinking only of himself and not the club but I don’t think that’s the case.  He’s grown as a player and a person under the guidance of Alan Stubbs and I’m sure a few other people.  I personally didn’t think he was only thinking of himself, I just thought he made a naive mistake.  The time for practising those shots is at East Mains not in a Scottish Cup semi-final.  However, if he’d scored it he’d have been a hero.  Such is the fickleness of football.

Instead though, that honour went to Mr Conrad Logan.  Signed in March on a two month deal he was really unheard of after the signing.  Otso Virtanen remained the back up goalie in our matches with no hint of Logan replacing him.

Oxley, thanks to losing a contact lens, found himself with a suspension from the semi-final (work that out SFA) so Mr Stubbs had a problem coming into Saturday’s game.  Play the faithful back up keeper, young, not that much experience.  Or play the out of shape player who hadn’t played for sixteen months and came to Hibs as a free agent after being released by high-flying Leicester City last season when they weren’t so high-flying.

Logan has had lots of loan spells throughout his time with Leicester.  He’s never really made his mark on the game down south so a spell up north in Scotland wasn’t a bad choice for the now thirty-year old (twenty-nine on his Hibs debut). Keen on getting time between the pipes he came to Hibs for a short contract.  Out of shape and a long way from ideal fitness it might have came as something of a surprise that he was picked over Virtanen for the semi-final at Hampden.

What a choice though.  Many, and I include myself, thought “what the f***?” when the lad walked out the tunnel and I was wrong to think that.  A few extra pounds doesn’t cloud an excellent goalkeeping mind and that is what Conrad Logan has.  His mind is sharp and he reads the game so very, very well.

He made three excellent saves during the ninety minutes but his shining time would come in the penalty shoot-out.  While Jason scored the winning penalty to take Hibs through to the final (and almost deleting his error) Conrad Logan made two excellent saves that denied Dundee United penalties and gave Hibs the advantage.

Safe hands

Safe hands

In doing that Conrad Logan made himself a legend after one match.  Clearly showing Stubbs that he can do the job between the pipes when he’s far from fit.  One wonders what he might be like when fit.  Unbeatable? Hopefully.  Logan knows his mind and we have to hope that this a performance he can pull off again and again and that he’s not a one hit wonder.  He’s given us every indication that he’s the real deal and, I’m sorry Ox I am a fan, but I’d put Logan in the net on Wednesday against Rangers.  It’s not a slight on the regular keeper, he’s good, but Logan deserves his chance.

Stubbs was vindicated in his choice of keeper as Conrad the Cat read Dundee United’s shots and then saved the penalites.  Logan became an instant hero for Hibs fans and as much as we celebrated Jason scoring the winning penalty we were celebrating the big lad on his skill and altheticism.  It isn’t wrong to say that The Cat won us the game.

So what now for Hibs? We have Rangers at Easter Road on Wednesday in what could be a rehearsal for the final but is actually crucial for us in the league.  It’s a must win really and we have to take the chance and hump the Rangers.  Hopefully we’ll finally realise that Wallace on the left wing is a haunt and take him out.  If not, we’ll struggle.

However, I remain, as ever, optimistic so come Wednesday night I’ll be in Easter Road at kick-off with all the hope I always have.  Enjoy the game.

And of course, we’re Hampden bound again.  GGTTH

 

 

 

Anyone know what’s happened to Hibs?

I wrote a blog on Saturday evening when I was still really angry at Hibernian and, reading back over it, I’m glad I didn’t publish it.  It was just a full on rant that would have done no good at all.

Still I’m left wondering what the heck has happened to Hibs in the past few weeks? We were The Unbeatables, seeing off competition left, right and centre whether they be from the Championship or the Premiership.  Aberdeen came to visit us in the League Cup, they were in great form mixing it up at the top of the Premiership but we sent them packing 2-0 and out of the cup.  This was the Hibs we wanted.  Not afraid, tough, in tune with each other and just looking downright fabulous.

biff_o

Dealing with Premiership teams

It continued, Dundee United BIFF, St Johnstone BASH.  Then the Scottish Cup.  Hearts at Tynecastle.  Two-nil down.  Ten minutes to go.  All over surely? Nope.  Thanks to Jason Cummings and Paul Hanlon we were still in it and taking Hearts back to Easter Road where we would beat them 1-0 BAM.  The season was lining up perfectly. How could it all go wrong?

Sunday 21st February.  One-thirty kick off at Easter Road and a nice 3-0 win over Alloa (yes Alloa).  Perfect.  Home for Sunday roast.  Three days later, under the floodlights, after the final whistle sitting in disbelief.  What had just gone on? Greenock Morton had just clobbered us 3-0 in our own home.

The mixed bag opened up.  Inverness punted out the Scottish Cup over two legs, defeat by Ross County in the League Cup Final, league losses.  Nothing going right.  Then the straw that finally broke this camel’s back, Alloa beating us 1-0 (added to Falkirks win).

I’ll admit to being a positive fan, trying to see the good in everything but I’m still left shaking my head.  What the hell has happened? Four points out of the last twenty-one available.  FOUR! That’s almost unthinkable considering the unbeaten run we went on.

searching for answers

Searching for answers

Everyone is searching for answers.  No one is finding any. This would be a case that would break Mulder and Scully.   Though, when you look back on it, yes we were winning games but not by great margins.  In the form we were in we should have been tucking away teams in the championship with ease.  Would it have been wrong to ask for us to be putting Alloa away five or six nil? I don’t think so.  The fact is, as good as we have played in all these matches, we were not scoring enough goals.  Not for the want of trying, it just wasn’t happening.

Our lone striker really is Jason Cummings.  Dress it up any other way you want but he is.  We’ve got Stokes in there, trying to impress Ronny (but isn’t).  El Alagui who has struggled to return to fitness after a tough injury and who was missing from the squad on Saturday after limping off in the first half against Livingston.  This is a pity because I feel he could shine for us.  We’ve got Martin Boyle who struggles to get a start, the same with Dagnall and Keatings.  Why?

Why doesn’t Niklas Gunnarsson get a start? He came on at Tynecastle when we were two nil down and, for me, he woke the team up again.  He changed it.  Not afraid to power forward, he’s tall, he has speed and strength and he knows what he needs to do.  Yet week after week he sits on the bench barely managing to get on the pitch and when he does the clock is at nintey minutes.

I’m not second-guessing the team selection, I’m not in the dressing room before a match but I do, as a supporter, wonder.  I’m not calling for the head of Alan Stubbs because he doesn’t deserve that.  He is still the best thing to happen in the coaching side of the club for a long time and he has changed a losing, negative mentality that hung around at the club for a long time, into a winning, positive mentality.  We needed that at Easter Road and at East Mains.  Do I think we’ve lost it again? No.  I think most people in the camp are baffled at the moment but they’re still positive.

It has been suggested that the team have been on such fine form for so long they have simply ran out of steam.  They’ve played a lot of football, no one can deny that.  Not so long ago we were in three competitions and playing lots of matches.  Yet we had a fortnight’s break recently and that didn’t revive us.

All I can do as a supporter is keep my trust in the team and the coaches and everyone else involved.  We’re not out of the chance of promotion, we’re just looking like we’re going to have to do it the hard way.  I just hope this is a seriously small dip in form and we’ll rise again to finish the job.  What this season has taught me is that anything is possible and to keep backing the team that gives me pride and pain in almost equal measures.

Season ticket

Renewed. Despite being fizzing.

The season ticket is renewed and I have to admit, I’d follow Hibs if they dropped down leagues as well.  They are my team, I follow them.  I just want them to be the best though.  To give the supporters reason to cheer.  They’ve been doing it all season, let’s not end it now.

As for supporters, there’s a Catch 22 situation going on.  The club want people to come back in their numbers and people would if there was reason to.  Hibernian do well, supporters will return but in the club’s mind, Hibernian will do well if the supporters return.  There’s two sides and I can’t argue with either.  The club wants people to return but people want more.  For the game against Falirk on Tuesday supporters purchasing tickets will pay £22 to watch the team that got beat by a relegated Alloa on Saturday against the team above them in the league.  It’s at this time of a season, bad or good, any club should drop its prices and get the fans in but that’s another blog altogether.