Andrew Shinnie knows that a return to English football would be of financial benefit but having experienced the legal high of a derby win, he says there are some things that money cannot buy.
That’s why rather than jump at the chance to return south in the summer, the on-loan midfielder would consider a permanent move to Hibs, especially if the Easter Road club achieves the aim of promotion, setting up the prospect of four head to heads with rivals Hearts and a host of other big games next term.
“It’s a brilliant club and I love it here. You saw it on Wednesday, that was unbelievable, the atmosphere out there. That’s as big as a lot of clubs down south could give you. Down south gets built up quite a lot, obviously people go down there and financially it is big difference but I’ve been at a lot of Championship matches, they’re decent games but nothing like that atmosphere, that was unbelievable.
“That [fixture] should be in the top league of Scottish football every season, it’s a great advert for the Scottish game although it obviously wasn’t on television. It should be in the top league and I love it, I wouldn’t not extend my stay here, I would like to stay here but I’m not going to think about that until the summer.
“I was at Birmingham, which is a great club, and we had some really good games. I didn’t sample the Villa derby, which would have been good but the games were good and the atmospheres were okay in most of the games, but nothing compared to that.
“Easter Road is a great stadium and when the fans are like that, it’s a tough place for teams to come. For a lot of financial reasons players go down [to England] but not a lot of teams can offer you that I don’t think.”
The Birmingham City player, who had insisted that a recall clause was omitted from his contract to ensure he could see out the full season on loan in Leith, has made 20 appearances for Hibernian, 16 of them starts, and while he would have preferred even more, he was delighted to come off the bench on Wednesday night as a fifth-minute replacement for the injured Chris Humphrey, and contribute by setting up goals and scoring in the 3-1 triumph.
“You never know the team really until just before the match so I was disappointed because although I thought I would get on, I’d always wanted to start one of these games. I know I didn’t start but because I got on so early, it kind of felt like I did. It’s not easy because the game was so fast and it’s hard to get your breath but we were brilliant and everyone gave everything they had and it is a great result.”
Agreeing to join the club in the summer, he had watched YouTube footage of last season’s Scottish Cup triumph and the scenes at the end of the fifth-round win over Hearts had made a particular impact on the 27-year-old. He said the fans’ response that night helped convince him to swap Birmingham for Edinburgh and he was delighted the clubs were drawn in the cup again.
“I loved it. It was everything I thought it would be and I was buzzing after the game. I had watched videos of last year and they sung Sunshine on Leith after the Hearts game last year and I thought it was unbelievable. Watching the lads walking round, I was jealous so I’m now so glad that I have sampled that and been a part of it. Near the end [of Wednesday’s fixture] I was thinking it might happen again. I was glad I had scored and then to win and walk around the ground as they were singing after the game was unbelievable. I was just glad I got that chance.”
Now Shinnie wants to add to the experience and help Hibs to successfully defend the Scottish Cup, as well as secure a return to the top flight.
“We have a big chance. That was a big game and the next round will be a tough game as well because Ayr have shown that they are a tough team to beat. But it is a decent tie for us and if we are on our game we should be able to go through and then we are into a semi-final so this was a big game. Hearts are a top-tier team but we showed that we should be [in the Premiership]. For now we are not and that is our own fault. That was a big win but the league is our priority this season.
“But why not do both? I don’t think a lot of teams will fancy playing us. We need to keep up that level of performance and get back to winning ways in the league because we have stuttered and we’ve had a couple of draws in recent weeks but teams make it difficult. But the season could be really good.”
And, while the outcome could influence where he plays his football next season, he says he is happy to wait until the dust settles at the end of the current campaign and then consider his options. “I’m just working hard on my football and that will take care of itself. I want to have a really successful season, I want us to win the league, I want us to go for the cup. We’ve got a chance so I’m going to get my head down.”