The current thread on "why do you support Hibs" caused me to recall an article I wrote some years ago on that very subject! Here it is again and obviously not bang up to date!
When I was young my Daddy didnít take me down to Easter Road or sit me high up on his shoulder. He wasnít a football fan and neither were any of my older siblings and so it was left to me to make up my own mind about which team I would follow. My pals at that time were, unsurprisingly, a mix of Hibs, Hearts and Rangers and Celtic fans.
At the age of eight I was invited to join my mate Jimmy Clark and his Dad in attending a Hibs game at Easter Road and I grabbed at that chance. I recall little of the match but I have vivid memories of climbing what seemed like hundreds of stairs and upon reaching the top, looking down and seeing thousands of people surrounding the greenest, smoothest area of grass I had ever witnessed. Suddenly there was an almighty roar and I stood entranced as the home team took to the park. They wore emerald green shirts with white sleeves, white shorts and green socks and they looked absolutely bloody fantastic. That was it; I was in love with Hibs, with Easter Road, with my newly found fellow Hibs fans and with a big striker by the name of Joe Baker who scored two great goals to help the Hibees win that day.
As I grew older I started to go to the games with my pals as Jimmyís Dad no longer needed to look after our welfare but as I look back I realise just how indebted to him I am. Were it not for him I might have ended up a Jambo or a Hun and that does not bear thinking about! One thing I do wonder though is whether my love for my team would have been so intense had it not been Hibernian? Guess Iíll never know but if I had I would have missed out on the tremendous stories Jimmyís Dad told us as we travelled to the games. The Famous Five, the League Championships the European nights and the beating of Barcelona and Real Madrid all, I suppose, meant my dewy eyed view of Hibs started way back then and despite the failure of my Club to recreate those fantastic days I remain as dewy eyed as ever.
The Sixties were fairly lean in terms of success although some fine players wore the green and I knew that better times must be just around the corner. Along came the Seventies and Turnbullís Tornadoes and I was in heaven. A number of truly great players, fantastic football, unforgettable European nights and a trophy or two, if not the League title, or Scottish Cup. Surely success was on the cards and better times must be just around the corner?
Into the Eighties and that enigmatic Manager Alex Miller whom, I freely admit, was never a favourite of mine as I truly believe he drove fans away with his negative style. Oddly, however, he brought into my team a number of quite wonderful players and so surely better times must be just around the corner?
The Nineties were little better although a League Cup win under Miller had us all thinking corners had been turned. Such thoughts were soon dismissed when we went to Ibrox and lost to an average Rangers team by, of all scores, 0 Ė 7. Did Miller resign? Nope, he blamed his players and soldiered on but his days were numbered. Now that heíd departed, surely better times were just around the corner?
Jim Duffy was a man out of his depth and made the fatal mistake of bringing First Division standard players to Easter Road. The result of that folly was him losing his job but Hibs becoming a First Division side despite the valiant attempts of Alex McLeish and his players to avoid the drop. On the day Dundee United ensured our relegation I cried like a baby. I felt as though someone I loved had died. There is no logical way to explain why this should be and all I can offer is that I am a Hibby Ė you all know what I mean Iím sure.
Big Red tried his best to bring quality football to Easter Road and for a while he succeeded because he had a strong backbone to his side in the shape of Sauzee, Latapy and Paatelainen. The First Division was an exciting dawdle but Big Red struggled once weíd returned to the SPL and soon forgot his personal pledge of staying as long as we wanted him by leaving and going to Rangers. In turmoil the Club foolishly elevated Franck Sauzee to the Managers chair and then had him vacate it again just 69 days later. That episode generated more ill feeling towards the Club I love than anything before or since in my Hibs supporting days but I will not dwell on that here.
With Franck gone we had Bobby Williamson installed. His record was pretty good on paper but he soon came under pressure from Hibs fans who demand to see passing football that stayed away in droves refusing to pay to watch his kick and run tactics. Now we have Tony Mowbray and I do believe better times are just around the corner. I know Iíve said it before, Iím sure we all have but this time I actually believe it.
The Inter Toto affair was a huge disappointment for many. Losing to such a poor side has hit many fans really hard and the criticisms are being aimed at all but the new gaffer Ė for now. We are a really demanding bunch and have little patience when it comes to our demands for smooth silky football not arriving quickly enough. Already we are being written off in some quarters as relegation fodder and this by people who were not actually in Vilnius! Its early days and both Mogga and the players will have learned a great deal from the two games played, as well as getting actual match practise without facing some non-League outfit in a meaningless friendly. Some have criticised those who blame lack of fitness. Physical fitness is an issue but match fitness is the real issue here. Weeks of inactivity mean the touch suffers, the brain needs to experience game situations again and on top of that thereís a new gaffer asking different things of you since you last played.
All those years ago when Jimmyís Dad took me to see the Club he loved I little realised that many years later my own love for that Club would be as strong as ever, despite the lack of any real success but hey, surely thatís just around the corner isnít it!