Tag Archives: rangers

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.

 

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

When Exuberance Won…

Sigh.  Another day and another “woe is me” statement from Ibrox.  Poor old (new) Rangers.  What on earth did they do to deserve such a tough run of luck? No one there can understand it.  They got beaten in the Scottish Cup Final on May 21st when it was their right to win it.  Every player and official was assaulted on the pitch when a vicious Hibernian crowd ran on to the pitch intent on causing as much violence and desruction as possible.  Everything that has happened to Rangers since has been Hibernian’s fault. Continue reading

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.

Stubbs and team will look forward and not back

It’s not been the best end to the year for us Hibby’s.  Seventeen game unbeaten run ended by Rangers on Monday, Fraser Fyvie given a two match ban for simulation and dropping to third in the league on goal difference.  Not great and I have to admit, if this had happened any other year it would have killed us.

Not this time though.  It is hard being on a long unbeaten run high and suddenly it comes to a screeching halt.  You literally have to “go again” and I firmly believe that Hibs will do that.  We’ve made too much progress since the ropey start to the season and we cannot let that go to waste.  Certainly Alan Stubbs has no intention of letting the heads go down.

“We move on .. we are not going to be deflected. We have been fantastic, seventeen unbeaten. It was going to happen eventually but I can assure you it is not going to affect us. We have a really good dressing-room so there’s no reason for me to think anything untoward – I won’t let them anyway.” – Alan Stubbs

So we must look at what we have achieved.  The unbeaten run of 17 games.  That’s an achievement in itself.  All credit goes to the coaches and players for achieving that, for coming out every match and giving everything and getting results.  Even achieving them with a couple of poor performances.  Annoying to have this run stopped but there’s no reason why we can’t do it again.  We already know we can do it.

The football has been mostly fantastic.  Passing is accurate, we can score from set pieces and from creation.  Literally anyone in the team has the potential to score so we don’t rely solely on the strikers.  This is a team who know how to play exciting football without using unnecessary tactics, we tackle well, we want the ball we take it.   We’ve also got positivity in the dressing room, something which has been missing from there in a long time.  Stubbs began it in his first season with us and carries it on now.

The proof of that is how the players responded after Monday’s defeat at Ibrox.  Disappointed, yes, but determined to put it behind them and carry on, build up another undefeated streak, score goals – and we do need more goals – and keep the positivity going.

Liam Henderson remains puzzled about what when wrong but insists the team won’t dwell on Monday’s defeat.

“It was a sore one, but it’s finished now. We’ll sit down and try to pin-point what went wrong. I couldn’t put a finger on it, I thought we played well, played some nice football. It was a really open game and I’m sure the neutrals thoroughly enjoyed it.

“We won’t dilly-dally on it, we’ll analyse it, and each of us will see where we can do better and try to improve for the next game.

“We are a strong unit and we’ll bounce back. These things happen in football. You’ll always lose a game, but I believe you learn more from losing than you do from winning. As I said, it was a good experience for me, but losing a game we’d hoped to have won did put a dampener on the day.”

Henderson was also referring to comments made by Rangers Kenny Miller which suggested he felt losing to Rangers would put self-doubt into some Hibs players.  He last played for Hibernian in 2000 and has no knowledge of the current Hibs set up.  Close to retirement, striker Miller has scored ten goals in 40 games in his latest stint at Ibrox.

Liam Henderson isn’t the only player to speak out about how the team are feeling after Monday.  November’s Championship Player of the Month for November, John McGinn, says confidence in the dressing room is not dented.

“If you put it into perspective one defeat in 18 isn’t too bad at all, we just need to try and put a similar run together. Our confidence has not been dented.

“We know it was just a minor blip in what was a really good run. We know we’ve got the players in here that can put together another run like that.”

He also lumped praise on our fans both home and away.
“They have been brilliant all season, they’ve come back in their numbers now and it has really given the team a boost.  The 900 that travelled to Ibrox were in fine voice and I hope they come along on Saturday and bring their pals.”

Take the whole season and look at it. It started badly but we overcame it. We went on a 17 game unbeaten run, firmly closed a gap that looked almost impossible and had Rangers believing the league would be wrapped up by Christmas. Confidence is high, our players are really shining. There’s many hours of football to be played and many points to be had. Let them be ours.

Now we face Raith on Saturday. It’s time for us to give someone a sore one and let’s hope that’s Raith at home in Easter Road. Get the points, get the goals and go again. We’ve lost ONE game since August, the first month of the league season. Let’s get behind the boys on Saturday and bring a pal!

GGTTH!

 

 

Hibernian: no shame in Ibrox defeat

The draw was made.  Hibs were to face Rangers in the first round of the Petrofac Training Cup.

Petrofac, Shake ‘n’ Vac, what the feck, (Ramsden’s was easier) the cup is nice to win but if you go out of it early doors you can’t really be disappointed.  Staying in just means more games to be played and for Hibs we’re better with less.

That’s not to take away from the eventual winners of the cup, it will be a deserved win and, of course, a cup.

However, this season has to be about the league for Hibs, there’s no two ways about it.  If we do well in the league cup and the Scottish cup well, that will be nice, but our focus has to be the league.

For Alan Stubbs, the fixture at Ibrox on Tuesday August 5th was his first in charge of a competition match.  For many Hibs fans who hadn’t been able to make it to the friendlies it was the first time to see the team in this new era.

A new era.  Not like the new era of Terry Butcher, taking over a tired team and telling them they weren’t going to be the future, but a new era where the boss comes in and looks at the team and says, we can do this and he actually believes it.  He believes he can take each player and make them work as part of a team.  Guess what? He did it.

The friendlies, for those who saw them, opened a lot of eyes.  My first was against Dundee United at Easter Road on Sunday 27th July.  Yes, a 0-1 loss but what a different team.  I have spoken about this in a previous blog but my jaw certainly dropped at the difference in attitudes.  There was a team out there, not 11 individual players.  Passing well, no hoofball.  Could it be taken into a properly competitive game? Remained to be seen.

It seemed a bit of a harsh start to the season, Rangers at Ibrox, but hell, if you’re going to have a match to test you then why not make it this one?  Not a league game so, in many ways, a good game to test your bottle, test your team and see how you come out of it.

First half, Hibs were nervy, they were not confident.  This was not unexpected.  Playing well in the friendlies is one thing, you can lose badly there but also test out your team.  Hibs didn’t lose badly in any of their friendlies but, in fact, gave fans something to look forward to.  Rangers at Ibrox in a proper cup, this was different though.

The old fear returned, during that first half, Hibs went down 1-0 to a Lewis MacLeod shot in the 14th minute and I am sure I am not alone in thinking here we go again.  Not pleased to think that about Hibs but as a long suffering supporter it was always going to go through my mind, as I’m sure it did for many other supporters.  Would the heads go down? Was that the match over for Hibernian? Last season I would have said yes, this season I wanted to say no.

While last season Hibs would have folded after the loss of a relatively early goal, this seasons team had different ideas.  They got themselves to half time without further loss and by playing some good football.

Whatever Alan Stubbs said in the dressing room at half time was obviously positive.  The team came out for the second half ready to fight and fight they absolutely did.  Passing well, taking care of Rangers in all respects and most importantly, Danny Handling hammered home the equaliser on the hour.  Confidence high, Rangers for the taking.  Hibs should have taken the tie and sown Rangers up.

Until the 79th minute.  Danny Handling’s tackle on David Templeton was risky, no-one would deny that, but he won the ball, quite why he was issued a red card when it was clearly a yellow card offence is anyones guess – plenty have theories – but there it stood.  At 1-1, with 11+added on time to go, Hibs were down to 10 men.

Another situation where Hibs teams of late would have folded, but this Hibs team said NO.

Rather than fold, Hibs readjusted.  While, with 11 men we might have been able to go on and score a winner, with 10 we didn’t concede, not in regulation time anyway and if that had been a league match we’d have left Ibrox with a point, only having given them a point.

However, extra time it was.  Ten men went in.  Ten? Well, if we count the 1,000 strong support for Hibernian we can say that we still had our extra man.  We battled on but Nicky Law broke our green hearts by making it 2-1 for Rangers while we had Robbo down on the ground with cramp, unable to clear it.  While not against the rules to score in that situation you can take from it what you will.  We weren’t beat 11 on 11, that’s for sure.

What should we take from this game?

Positive play.  Fight.  Determination.  Playing as a team, playing for Hibernian.  We played Rangers but we could have been playing anyone, Hibs went out there saying it doesn’t matter who you are, we’re bringing the fight to you, you have to beat us. Rangers did beat us but we made them do it.  We didn’t lie down.

We’re short of a striker, there’s fact in that but Alan Stubbs will see that and he’s not soft, he’ll be working on getting that sorted.

I’m pleased to say that my dad, a life-long Hibby and severely disillusioned, watched Hibs at Ibrox on TV and had confidence restored.  Not in the first half, has to be said, but in the second, he was pleased with the new style, calmer Hibs and felt we should have had at least four goals and saw them off easy.  If only someone could finish, and that is our problem.

We’re out of the Petrofac Cup but that’s fine.  We had a good run out, we saw what we can do in competition.  We’re not going to win every game, that’s the nature of football, but we’ve got a good chance.  Without these cup games it means we have less games and that’s a good thing.  A simplistic fixture list will be more beneficial for us in the long run.  We don’t need it clumped up by cup games when we need to concentrate on the league.

So now, it’s time to concentrate on the league for a couple of weeks before our first League Cup outing, also at home against Dumbarton on the 26/27th of August.

We can do this Hibernian.

And now…Alan Stubbs.  Utterly honest and refreshing interview with the Hibs boss following the 2-1 loss at Ibrox.