Hearing the sound of the full-time whistle being blown yesterday rounded off a perfect few days on a personal note. I had the pleasure of spending the weekend with some of my closest former team-mates, taking in yesterday’s victory over Dundee United and also having a fantastic evening on Friday at the club’s Hall of Fame awards dinner.
It was a great opportunity to catch up, share a few jokes and reminisce about our playing days spent at Easter Road. Listening to old stories from the 50s and 60s right through until the present day reinforced just how many talented players have donned the green and white of Hibernian. When the likes of Barcelona are being mentioned within the same conversation as Hibs, it underlines the special European nights we as supporters all looked forward to in great anticipation.
I always relish dinner nights arranged by the club as you wake up the next morning with a list of facts you never knew existed. While in the company with of the great John Fraser, who spent many years alongside the master tactician that was Eddie Turnbull, Fraser told me a tale from the time Hibs defeated the mighty Barcelona at Easter Road. He recalled that some of the visiting players were so incensed by the referee’s decisions that night that they proceeded to kick the dressing room door several times over. I suppose they left their mark in some way, but it certainly wasn’t on the park as Hibs recorded a famous victory.
As I sat watching the present Hibs side record their seventh victory of the campaign yesterday, a precious three points which has taken us to the top of the SPL, we needed to stand firm to see out the match after losing what can only be described as a sloppy goal. This gave Dundee United a lifeline in a game they had offered little in the way of attack up until this point. The visitors certainly put us under pressure in the latter stages and might have snatched a point.
But the players didn’t seem to panic on the field despite United enjoying a lot of possession late on. We have to take into consideration that many of the players from the current crop are still largely inexperienced at this level of football but this is a testimony to the progress shown at the club.
The pressure of us being at the league’s summit is something we’ll have to live with but I think we can handle it. Let’s enjoy where we are and keep playing the football that is collecting us the points. Expectations will continue to rise but we must maintain our focus on the job in hand. We are beginning to see the confidence throughout the team and if we can continue to keep picking up victories both home and away, this could be a very promising season for everyone connected with the club.
Pat Fenlon has forwards in both Leigh Griffiths and Eoin Doyle who are proving ruthless in front of goal at the moment with 17 goals between the pair at this early stage. They are providing a formidable combination and complement one another to great effect. Our midfield, on the other hand, know how to dig in but also display the quality to offer a threat in the final third.
I still have my concerns over our defensive frailties. Of course there has been a vast improvement from last season but we must stop gifting goals to the opposition. Simple errors are proving costly and this was once again evident in yesterday’s match. We must make teams work for their rewards.
Next up is an away trip to face United’s neighbours Dundee on Tayside and it is a game we can go into with confidence. Dundee are, however, beginning to show signs of a recovery with four points collected from their last two league fixtures so we must be wary of this. However, we are in the position we are in on merit and must go there looking to pick up another three points if we are to keep our impressive run going.