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.
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?
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.
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 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.