First things first: thank Sauzee for the return of Hibernian business. After all the Champions League nonsense, and the ever-so-worthy-but-still-a-bit-shit wummin’s World Cup, it felt good to watching the Hibs again.
Today I was attending with ma Uncle Bob, who has been a regular at Gayfield since he was 8 or 9 (approximately, by his own reckoning), giving him 67 years service to Arbroath. A season ticket holder, he’s been going up and down from Silverknowes every other week as long as I’ve been alive and then some. That’s dedication for ye; and I’ll just add that to the shaming of the “ah’ll no be back till Petrie’s gone” crew. Anyhoo, had a wee sunbathe and a cheeky Peroni in his back garden on a braw summer’s afternoon, soup, mince, and creme caramel off Auntie Magret, then we set off up the road.
Pre-match, stopped for a swift lager at Tutties Neuk, and it already appeared that a healthy Hibs contingent had made the pilgrimage to the northern shores:
Full marks for the hairdo for Sideshow Bob in the foreground there.
Suitably refreshed, it was time to scoot over the road to join the 1,000ish strong crowd, of which a very healthy proportion was of the Hibernian persuasion. It was a fantastic evening, and I must say, it’s a great wee ground, with a great view over the back, and an excellent playing surface, too.
Using my 20p teamsheet, it was time to decipher who was taking the field. I’ll start with the ratings for the first half lineup (unsure of formation):
SDG – Jackson – Hanlon – Mackie
Squirrel – Campbell – Murray – Horgan
Paddy Martin – oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. An evening to forget for the young goalie. You could perhaps say “could’ve done better” for the Red Lichtie’s first goal, but bloody hell – the next two were horrorshows, one with his head and one with his feet. Left the Arbroath players with an empty net to shoot into for goals 2 and 3. On my way out the ground, someone said to me “that first team goalie shirt weighs heavy” for a kid who’s apparently performed well at development level. Rocky and Maxwell have zero to worry about on this showing, though.
Sean Mackie – solid, unspectacular. A decent outing.
Paul Hanlon – was Paul Hanlon. Didn’t do much wrong.
Adam Jackson – The first of our new guys: very tall, with a lolloping stride. He looked not bad, but I don’t see him dislodging a fit Daz (on this showing – which is the disclaimer for everyone here, given that it’s game 1 of preseason).
SDG – The pick of the back four, and offered more than Mackie in an attacking sense. Great to see the SDG-Boyler axis reinstated, their understanding is obvious.
Ben Stirling – wow, he’s a big lad. Couldn’t work out whether he was in the middle of a 3, or at the base of midfield at first, but it became obvious as the half wore on it was the latter. The best of the 3 young lads in midfield, for my money. One to watch.
Martin Boyle – how good was it to see him back? Lively, pacy, intelligent, direct, he was pretty much what we’ve come to expect from him…
Daryl Horgan – …and you should be looking across the park at the Squirrel on the other wing for your own benchmark, Daryl son. Didn’t do much wrong, but didn’t really make an impact either.
Fraser Murray – I thought he was anonymous.
Josh Campbell – …as was this lad. Neither him or Fraser really affected the game.
Christin Doidge – Hmmmm. I have to say, this was the most concerning outing. Don’t get me wrong, he didn’t look bad, but there was a lot of running about with not a huge amount of end product. Got himself in areas, etc, etc. First touch not great. Absolutely HONKING penalty, which the Arbroath keeper didn’t have to work hard to save comfortably. Jury out at Aggie Towers.
As for the first half, it was pretty forgettable. A shocking foul on SDG after about 20mins was the most interesting thing that had happened by then. Their goal from Doris was from a simple ball over the top, but it’s not like we’d been under the cosh. They always looked dangerous, though. My favourite moment was ex-Gunt Thomson getting proper TELT on about 42 minutes while taking a throw-in – if he’d forgotten he is a Hertz ****, he’s been reminded tonight.
Roger – Daz – Hanlon – James
Allan – Mallan – Newell
Moon (trilaist) – Flo – Shaw
Martin – see above
Steven Whittaker – for all the stick he gets, you can see he’s got class. Saw a lot of the ball, and used it well. We could have worse squad players than Roger.
Daz – was Daz. Him and Paul together just look … right.
Paul – see above
Tom James – I thought he looked good, very composed, very good feet. A wholly satisfactory debut.
Mallan – along with the next guy on the list, instantly turned us into a more formidable prospect. Intelligent, pinpoint passer of the ball, and a class above the rest.
Allan – welcomed back raucously by the Hibs crowd. If anyone was in doubt about which Scott Allan was returning, that question was answered tonight – it’s the one we all wanted. All action, all football. Our best move of the night thus far occurred on about 60mins, when he and Mallan combined, culminating in a shot from Tom James. Then unlucky from Moon, again from an Allan through ball. Great comedy moment when we could clearly hear him shout at a static Moon “GO! Ye can fuckin run ye know!” Then BOOM, welcome back – Scotty crowned his return with Hibs’ first, a worldy from the edge of the box into the top corner. Believe me, it stayed hit. Will be a huge player for us this season.
Joe Newell – unfortunately, I can’t be as effusive about this guy. Played more central than I was expecting, and seemed to struggle. Looked a bit lost. Another one who will need to find his feet, as opposed to hit the ground running.
Ryan Moon – I don’t think he did his chances any harm: looked lively, always wanting to be involved, and scored our second with a good far post header.
Oli Shaw – He’s a tidy footballer, but I just think he lacks conviction when big moments come around. I’d honestly prefer to see him loaned out.
Flo – okay, I have something to say here. Touch a bit off, but did more in his half than Doidge did in his, and Shaw has done in his entire Hibs career. However, it seems some Hibs fans have already made up their mind about him, because he gets absolutely slated for the exact same errors that Shaw doesn’t. Have a word, guys, eh? On tonight’s evidence, he’s still the most accomplished looking forward on the books, but he was still desperately trying to fashion himself opportunities. Very nearly did score, but just couldn’t stretch his legs far enough – or perhaps misjudged the ballspeed? Anyway. I’m glad he’s still at Hibs.
Kosivar Sadiki – on for Paul. Never heard of him?? Nothing much to say, because to be honest, he was rarely tested.
But for the goalkeeping howlers, we win the game 2-1 quite comfortably. Allan’s goal was the blue-chip moment. Arbroath were decent, but a couple of heavy-handed moments for a friendly. We should scud them at ER in a couple of weeks, though.
I enjoyed a steak pie and two coffees for £4 (unfortunately, the steak and black pudding pies were sold out). I had a great outing with ma uncle on a braw summer’s evening. I am feeling pleased that the metronome of my life, the Hibs, are back, and I’m looking forward to another thrills and spills-laden season with all y’all.
Here we, here we, here we fcukin go!