Tag Archives: Grant Holt

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

 

 

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

Put it in the NET! And Bring Back Hendo…

Finally escaped to write this.

So, Saturday afternoon brought us Falkirk at Easter Road.  Despite Falkirk forgetting how to play football it was never going to to be a match-up to take lightly.

Falkirk are further down the league that they would want to be at this point in the season but it’s easy to see why.  For one I think they’ve had secret coaching sessions with Terry B****** on how to play Hoofball along with a few attempts at Head Tennis.  Houston seems to have lost the plot with this seasons Falkirk squad.  His problem though.

Ours is that we can’t get the ball in the back of the net.  Not consistently.  Saturday was very much testament to that.  With 18 corners and numerous other chanced it’s beyond me why were didn’t have a few on the scoreboard before half time.

Part of it is that Falkirk played defensive right from the kick off.  They weren’t playing to win, they were playing to not lose it, there is a difference.  They just tightened up even more after Taiwo was sent off for his insane two footed tackle on John McGinn leaving them with ten men from 23 minutes onwards.

When Hibs play football we play football.  We’re classy and we can tear through teams when we really want to and we did in parts on Saturday afternoon.  Some respect must be given to the Bairns ‘keeper Danny Rogers.  He pulled off a few decent saves that did deny us goals.

Yet something is just not right.

Grant Holt is fast becoming one of my favourite players.  His effort is amazing.  He put up with a lot today, a few fouls on him that the referee and lino’s seemed to have missed as if they were watching the other channel.

The game was feisty which wasn’t a problem at all, Hibs and Falkirk were close rivals all last season and it shouldn’t be a shock that it would remain the same this season.  Stubbs may be gone but Houston won’t have forgotten the jibes last season.  Beating Hibs on Saturday would have made his shiny bald head beam with happiness.

However, to win you need goals and Hibs ‘keeper Ross Laidlaw was a mere spectator for the majority of the game.  While Hibs didn’t score any more goals than Falkirk we did create many more chances and Danny Rogers goalmouth was a busy one.  Aside from Falkirk’s goal (and no, Marciano wouldn’t have saved it either) the groundskeepers would be happy enough that both ends only dealt with forty-five minutes of action.

We played well on Saturday, I would think that there would be very few people who would disagree with that.  The team have gelled.  There were a few loose passes but they looked like they were small communication issues rather than anything major going on.  We tried to play our football game but as soon as Falkirk got on the ball they just hoofed it about until we took it off them again.  Frustrating.

Frustration might be the word of the game.  Almost 100% effort for the entire match from the whole team, including the subs, and we just end up with a point.  It’s the story of Hibs and not just limited to this season.

How many times must we sit and watch a player who could take a shot then pass it out wide? Set play nonsense.  TAKE THE BLOODY SHOT! If you keep battering it in then you batter the defence, yet we seem to be running up, creating mayhem then dampening it down by passing out (almost literally!) and letting the opposition regroup.  Or, in Falkirks case, just group!

MOTM Darren McGregor has really proved himself in recent weeks.  On Saturday he was all over Falkirks apparent lone striker.  They started with a 4-4-2 with Baird and Miller upfront but they were generally called back to muck in with defensive duties.

El Capitano was a little off his game on Saturday.  Nothing major and he worked hard but there was something amiss from Sir David’s game.  Temporary I am sure.

I’m still not sure why JC is not getting a start.  Our top scorer and no one is showing any signs of wanting topple him from that.  Nineteen minutes at the end of a game isn’t enough for him.  He’s not being allowed to build up a strike force with anyone.  Jason needs fed.  He won’t pick up a ball at the halfway line and run with it, he needs service.  Probably more service than other strikers but he does need it.  Jason will score if Jason is given the right build up.

Can’t fault the team as a whole.  I’ve seen Lewis Stevenson questioned in the aftermath of the match yet Falkirk generally forgot about him for most of the match and he loomed around unmarked, especially in the second half.  Fonts didn’t have the game I would have thought he had but I would imagine he knows that.

I still think we’re missing Liam Henderson.  Probably my favourite on loan player of recent years.  He played his heart out for Hibs.  No one could deny his spirit and his love for a club he was only sent to in order to gain experience.  He became a hero with Hibs and if he never does anything else in his career then he was part of the Time For Heroes team.  He’ll never be forgotten for that.  And guess what? He wants to come back.  Get working on it Hibs.  If there’s one thing we know about Hendo it’s that he knows how to deliver.

GGTTH 💚