Tag Archives: SPL

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.

The moronic Butcher didn’t step back and look at the damage he’d already done but carried on axing members of our squad before anyone had time to take it all in.  Thankfully he was booted not long after.  Farewell Butcher and Malpas, clown and sideshow act.

Things didn’t just look bleak, they looked finished.  There was a chance Leeann Dempster might not come to Hibs because of the relegation but she stuck true to her word and came in at, in reflection, the perfect bloody time.

It was a truly dreadful time for Hibs and the loyal support.  The Jambos at work were in ecstasy.  Having been mocked by us for all their shenanigans in the weeks prior, they ripped us up.  (Aye that would never come back and haunt you Jambos, shower of dafties).

The weeks to the start of the new season were fraught.  Many, many fans pledged their support simply because of it being the club that they love.  I was one of them.  Bucking Championship but how could I walk away?

In a few shorts weeks we had to appoint a manager and get a team together.  We started the season light on bodies and that did for us.

Look at us now though.  We’re still in the Championship, yes, but look at us.  We’re Scottish Cups winners.  We, as of writing, still are the holders and we will be all the way up to the weekend of April 22/23 and possibly beyond.  In May 2014, the idea of being Scottish Cup winners two years later was just ridiculous.  The idea that a year later, in March 2017, we’d be heading to the semi-final again…that would have seemed ludicrous.

However, the idea that we’d still be in the Championship in 2017 was not even in consideration.  So that we are is a concern and one we can hopefully fix in the next six games.

I say the next six games because that’s the amount of league games we have between now and the semi-final with Aberdeen.  The first is, what could potentially be a toughie, Dundee United at Tannadice.  It is a must win.  In fact that, and the following five, for me, are must wins.  A potential 18 points there.  That would sort the league out and leave us free to concentrate on the semi and then, potentially, the final.

Six games, six weeks to get the head in the right place and win the league.  There’s no need to concentrate on the Cup, we’re there, in the semi.  Falkirk are only 6 points behind us.  We all know Peter Houston will be wanking into a sock about that.  When we face them at Easter Road on the 25th of this month let us be further ahead.  Let’s hope they’ve dropped points and not the other way around.

Stubbs rebuilt us and Lennon has carried that on but even he is a bit puzzled as to the performances of late.  I think everyone is.

A stinking mid-week performance in Paisley hasn’t helped but, to give St Mirren credit, they are playing well and Jack Ross has boosted the side with confidence.  The players clearly believe in him and their performance against Celtic in the first half of the quarter-final at Celtic Park shows just how far they have come in a very short time.  They made Celtic look ordinary and, of course, they went into the tunnel at half time 1-0 up. A lovely goal by Harry Davis.

They didn’t do much wrong in the second half either, only Celtic upped it and the bringing on of Roberts at half time for GMS changed the way they played.  St Mirren should be proud of what they did in that 90 minutes.  Brendan Rodgers said they were the best domestic team Celtic had faced all season.  Take from that what you will rest of the SPL (means you’re crap, Rangers).

Rangers will be over-confident after their 6-0 win over Hamilton at Ibrox.  They’ll believe they can beat Celtic in the semi’s.  Delusion (they call it confidence) is in abundance at the moment.  OK, but they’ve forgotten they make the trip to Celtic Park next Sunday in the league.  Let’s see how that goes.

For me the league must take priority.  Forget the cup now.  Forget all about it.  We’re not even in it.  It’s only the league we must concentrate on.  I have written before that we cannot do another season in this league and I don’t believe we will.  We’re the best team in this league by a country mile and we’re better than some in the SPL as well.  So we should be up there next season and challenging.

I finish this post with a poll.  I’ll vote League with no Cup because going up is the goal but my word, we sort this league out before this semi and this could be a very magical season.

GGTTH