A big thank to St. Patrick’s Branch members Mark, Susan and Stu for their contributions.
JUST BACK…….FROM THE BRINK
A personal account of last nights game
Ooooft, that was too close, whilst we had lots of possession it didnae look like we were going any further in this Cup. Two wonder goals in the last ten minutes (and a no bad other one) saw us through in the end. Nid’s team were ok, their first goal was well worked but they wasted time and paid the price.
Onto Hibs, well we still cannae score in a barrel of proverbials, ok we scored three but again we should and could have scored many more. The 5060 who turned up on a cold August night were rewarded in the end, but by Sauzee we made it hard for ourselves.
Onto the team….
Oxley – Disnae inspire me with confidence if I were honest although I am not sure he could much with either goal?
Gray – Made captain for the night and whilst the Man of the Match went to the tricky Toffee Kennedy, Gray was my Man of the Match, putting in a great shift, especially as a winger the last 15 minutes!
Forster – Did well enough but is fragile, especially at both goals and the ten minutes around it.
Fontaine – He will shirley get better, still thinks we play football like it is played down south, will get up to speed I hope.
Booth – Not as effective as he was Saturday but does attack well, especially first half.
Harris – Looked like a scared wee laddie too much, which is a pity as he is a good player and will shake it off, despite the pathetic shouts from the fannies that claim to support our team.
Robertson – Other than the last 15 minutes when Scott Robertson played like we know he can, he looked like Liam Craig in a Scott Robertson mask. Must do better Scott, we know you can!
Allen – Started brightly and showed some ability but tired badly, he and Robertson switched holding roles second half pretty well I thought?
Kennedy – Jinked, overlapped, nipped and skipped around players, some better balls when on the right, did well, almost as well as Gray
Handling – I am not going to lie, I have never thought Handling good enough. Best polybag blowing about the pitch, his four year contract must be based on a dodgy photae he has of Rod and Leeanne. Must man up and do better, plays like he is wearing a tutu.
El Alagui – Huffed and puffed for the first eighty minutes, then was wonderful for the last 10, scored a good header, followed by a beauty, an absolute, Alan Gordonesque (look him up Under 40’s) stoatir, both from crosses from Gray! Needs a prolific partner though. The boy can header a ball, he really can, watch and learn fitba players amongst us.
Cummings for Harris – An early change that did make a difference (you are learning Alan). I like the laddie, but he still goes backwards with the ball, that is a confidence and I am sure Stubbs knows he can improve him.
Stanton – Came on for Handling and whilst placed to the right, in fact did all his best work through the middle, but then we know that, helped by both Robertson and especially the excellent Gray. BUT, lets not forget Sam’s goal, that was better than the fantastic goal from Alagui, a 25 yarder, sweet as a nut in the top corner, what a goal. Keep Sin the middle and watch him go Alan.
Alan Stubbs – I see what you are trying to do Alan and I like it, but then I am biased. OK, we don’t have the players the school of science do, but learn from your mistakes and move on. Just chap the Dempster and Petrie door and tell them straight, we need a ball winning midfielder, a striker and a back up defender by Monday.
Referee – Spanners like that are what you get when you get relegated. Useless.
Crowd – Poor but that is what you get when you get relegated, charge SPL (or whatever its called) prices and dinnae sign a marquee player, serves ye right Hibs, I would have let under 18’s and OAP’s in for nowt.
Dumbarton – Plucky, but lets be honest, pretty average when at their best, Strung 10 minutes of passes together, wasted more time not playing football.
Moving forward – get rid of Petrie, Farmer and Forsyth, sign the players above, one of whom we might have heard of and keep working that game plan Alan, its not always pretty but its better than the pish we have suffered for many a year.
PS Liam Craig has lost his place…………………………right.
LEITH LINKS – August 2014 Update
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth”, said Mohammed Ali. Well, it is in this spirit that I am delighted to bring you an update about Leith Links, the fund which aims to help children AND support Hibs.
Since June 2013, over £12,000 has been raised by the Hibee family, which is an outstanding effort. This season alone, we are on course to purchase 140 Kicks for Kids season tickets (up from 22 last year!) and the befriending scheme, set up to support the excellent Multi Cultural Family Base’s ‘Scoring A Goal For Inclusion’ programme, is off and running, meaning ten kind Hibs fans have volunteered to sit with primarily Black, Ethnic Minority children so they can learn about our proud, rich history, which St. Pat’s so superbly embraces and upholds. Additionally, Lorraine from MCFB is going to send me details next week of a wee boy who has progressed to Edina Hibs and he is absolutely delighted.
New Direct Debits and standing orders continue to be set-up, meaning we’ve over £300 coming in every month AND have a look at our auction of a signed Manchester United top on ebay (http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/251626115633), which was kindly donated by a supporter of Leith Links who lives in the US of A.
Our website has had nearly 65,000 unique ‘hits’, we have 1,320 ‘Likes’ on Facebook and 720 followers on Twitter, for those of you ‘into’ social media 😉 On that note, a fellow branch member kindly assists with the website and along with those of you who have set up said payments, provided advice, have allowed me to wax lyrical about the fund, the support from St. Pat’s has been tremendous.
Whilst there is no doubt the performances on the park need to improve, the fans off it are definitely ‘Premiership’ class. The backing and response from the Hibs fans, and St. Pat’s in particular, has been nothing short of magnifique, as Franck would say, so thank you, long may it continue and GGTTH.
STU’S VIEWS – EARLY SEASON
It’s the time to begin and to say ‘hello’, as we rake over the glowing embers of another white-hot Derby Day, with a sadly all-too-familiar result from the past few seasons. I’d eagerly hoped for more positive circumstance to begin this column of course, laptop at the ready, but win, lose or draw, here it comes.
As a word of introduction, I’ve been around The Bounce forever and there’s a good few on the good ship that know me and many more that don’t. Don’t mind me though, I’ve kindly been asked to contribute a few words via a regular column here on Jamie’s excellent front page. You’ll be aware that my opportunities to view Hibs games ‘in the flesh’ so to speak are more limited than some, given my geographic limitations but notwithstanding that, my eye on Hibs is otherwise via the small screen and the internet. Perhaps as important as that are a good few views synthesised from the Hibs community, including a lot of friends who are of the faithful. Watching Hibs from a distance actually offers quite a different perspective. Aside from its frustrations, it’s a viewpoint that nevertheless often allows the most interesting and salient trends to emerge and come into focus I always think – a chance to observe clearly what is really happening around our club. You’ll maybe have to take my word for that.
I should talk then about the latest edition of the Edinburgh Derby, Sunday 17th August 2014. I should also warn that I don’t really do match reports – you can read those everywhere in any case and probably in more comprehensive form than I would produce. Several sizeable issues though materialised from the ashes of Hibs’ 2-1 defeat though and I’d like to concentrate on those for the purposes of discussion.
Like others, I’ve watched carefully over the close season attempting to understand how the club propose to turn around the dreadful events of 2013-14 under the hapless Butcher and Malpas. The club as, we know, is under major upheaval and change, though not enough for some – a group I’d align myself with. Nevertheless, it’s been encouraging observing the diligent and often refreshing work carried out thus far by manager, Alan Stubbs and new CEO Leeann Dempster. There’s some new impetus certainly but the overall changes that many of us would enjoy have not transpired as yet. That’s another story though, as they say.
In truth, my current feelings are that Hibs have only brought in ‘just enough’ players – and certainly no more – that they felt they could get away with for the coming season. I have a sense of them testing the water to see how results go before opening the cheque book again. I accept that there’s still time to bring players in and also that there have been attempts to do this. I’m less clear about what the club are prepared to pay for quality, notwithstanding the lack of allure when persuading players to join a Championship team. I understand budgetary limitations too but unfortunately the club have lost the trust of many on that score, including me. I simply do not believe their protestations. That’s the consequence their lack of clear and transparent communication has had on me. I dare say I don’t just speak for myself on that point either.
To balance things, it has been really promising to witness the style that Hibs have adopted under Stubbs and the ex-Everton man should be commended for this. Even during the hurry-scurry of today’s derby –traditionally a game not conducive to sweet, passing football – there were many more signs of a controlled method of play – at least before the desperation set in. If Hibs adhere to this template I feel good things will come BUT it needs the commensurate level of investment in the playing squad. Many talk about quality and of course that is paramount but there is also a distinct lack of numbers. A good example of this was today, when even at this early stage of the season, Michael Nelson, a player unwanted, unloved and not the answer to Hibs’ needs was necessarily drafted in to the side for this huge game. I offer no disrespect to Michael who got through a decent and dependable ninety minutes’ work today but I expect this lack of investment to keep this set of circumstances of a threadbare squad operating throughout the season. Even with a suitable replacement for the big stopper coming in – perhaps a centre back who can play the ball out of defence in respect of Stubbs’ football philosophy – there is so little cover. And to paraphrase, Nero fiddles while Rome burns…
As always when offering criticism to Hibs, I’ll be very happy of course to eat my words if the remaining open window days sees say, three experienced players coming into the Holy Ground. In the meantime I remain cynical.
A little about today’s game and two of the main talking points were Robertson’s sending off and general display and skipper, Liam Craig’s poor penalty miss and slightly fiery episode at the end of the game. Firstly, I have to state that whilst recognising Robertson’s strengths, his superb engine, persistence and ability to get forward and score a goal or two he’s not a player I’m that taken with. This is due to his poor passing ability, both long and short. His slightly niggly style is one you either love or hate but sometimes, as in today, that can come back to bite, in this case with a double yellow card sending off.in a big game. It seems as though manager, Stubbs was the only person watching proceedings at Tynecastle that didn’t see that one coming. I guess sometimes you can be just too close to events…
Craig has been much lambasted by Hibs fans after a poor season last term and after today’s somewhat lame, off-target penalty attempt that will no doubt continue. I have some reservations about the player but refuse to put a world of hate on a player who has missed a spot-kick – poor though it was. I do believe there’s a decent free-scoring midfielder in there. Psychologically however, there appears work still to do on his behalf by the new management team.
It was interesting to note towards the end of the game that both he and Lewis Stevenson began to lose their temper a little over some predictable opposition time wasting. I’m all for showing some passion for the team, and heavens, Hibs have been criticised for a lack of that for time immemorial but for me, I’m afraid Craig completely forgot his responsibilities as Hibs’ leader on this occasion. This will only add fuel to the fire of the many who state that he shouldn’t be anywhere near the captain’s armband.
With experienced players such as Craig and Robertson running into disciplinary problems it again begs the question regarding squad cover. Much has been made of the younger element at Hibs and it has been a little disappointing to see Sam Stanton go off the boil to a degree. Such is the way with young players though and they need to be treated delicately and sensitively at times – in a way diametrically opposed to how they were treated by the previous managerial incumbent and his assistant if accounts are accurate. I like both Stanton and Harris and in the latter’s case I believe he was treated abominably last season. There was no protection to any of our young players last term in fact, witness Cummings over the second leg of the play off. One never knows what to believe regarding the behind the scenes stories but some of them, even if they only hinted at the truth, were horrific. Luckily the previous management team was with us for only a brief, yet painful period. I’m sure the damage they did, which appears extensive and considerable, can be righted by the current staff. This sort of treatment can turn a young player’s career one direction or another at the seminal stage, it can be pivotal in their development. My own view is that Sam needs a couple of games on the bench and I’m hopeful that, suspensions notwithstanding, Stubbs will take this course of action. I’m confident that our new manager is the type of character that can communicate with him and help him retain his confidence and maintain progress. Dealing with young players appropriately and with care appears to be a handy tool in the new manager’s kit.
So, in ending, I recognise that for some supporters, even small signs of improvement (and those certainly exist after such an abject season last time around) will see them ‘buying into’ the ‘new’ Hibs. That’s all fine and well but I’m afraid we’ve walked this road many times and I need to see more – much more. To be cautious yet constructive is something we should perhaps aim for, especially after the Butcher debacle. Today’s result and performance is a curt reminder to all that Hibs are not remotely equipped, yet, to challenge at the top of the Championship. It remains a work in progress. Whichever way round you view it, it takes investment in good players to be successful. It really is as simple as that. Whilst I like Alan Stubbs from what I’ve seen and appreciate some of the backroom changes additionally, I remain cynical. Faithful, died in the wool Hibs I will always be but I’m still, sadly, a non-believer at this stage I’m afraid. I’d dearly love Hibs to prove my prognosis inaccurate.
If you’ve managed to stay with this Hibs train of consciousness, thank you for reading, I’ll be back soon enough. As a now dearly departed top Scots manager once simply said to me – ‘keep supporting’. I’ll do the same.