Alan Stubbs today insisted he’ll be more excited at taking a seat in the away dug-out at Vale of Leithen’s tiny Victoria Park than he was making his debut as a professional football player.
Stubbs will take charge of Hibs for the first time as they face the Lowland League outfit on Saturday and, he admitted, it will be a moment which will provide an everlasting memory in a career which has spanned Bolton Wanderers, Celtic,Everton, Sunderland and Derby County.
The new Easter Road head coach said: “I’ve never been to Innerleithen, but it’s a day I’m going to remember for the rest of my managerial career as it will be the place where it will all have started.
“It’s somewhere that’s going to remain in my mind for what, hopefully, is going to be a successful career in management, the first time I’ll have been in charge of a football club. I am more excited about Saturday than I probably would have been for my professional debut.
“This is the start of something really exciting for me. As far as I am concerned, it’s a fresh start for the football club, a chance for us all to work towards finishing as high up the league as we can, to get back into the Premiership as soon as possible.”
Saturday’s match (kick-off 3pm) also promises to be a red letter day for cash-strapped Vale of Leithen, one of the oldest football clubs in the Borders and only two years away from their 125th anniversary, chairman Jack Diamond admitting the fact Stubbs will be making his first appearance as Hibs’ new head coach an added attraction, one which he hopes will fill the 1300 capacity ground.
Such is the interest, Sky Sports television cameras will be in attendance. Diamond said: “The match is attracting great interest locally, in Edinburgh and further afield with it being Alan’s first match in charge of Hibs who have been terrific with us.
“We’ve got our own financial situation to sort out but we’ve also got ambitions, to start thinking of getting ourselves into the Scottish League proper.
“If we can get a capacity crowd of 1300 then I will be a very happy man.”
Meanwhile, Stubbs disclosed he allowed Northern Ireland internationalist Ryan McGivern to become the 16th player to leave Easter Road since the end of last season after the 24-year-old had revealed to chief executive Leeann Dempster he was attracting interest from clubs in England.
Former Manchester City player McGivern, who had another season of his contract to run, has joined Port Vale on a two-year deal.
Stubbs said: “Ryan had made it known to Leeann before I arrived that he had had some offers from England.
“At the end of the day, it was my decision to let him go. I want players here who are committed to Hibs and are ready to fight for the cause.
“I don’t want anyone who is thinking of moving, I want everyone focused on the first game of the season and focused on what we are expecting of them this year.”
Elsewhere, Kilmarnock have signed former Hibs midfielder Paul Cairney on a two-year deal.
The former Queen’s Park and Partick Thistle midfielder was released by the Easter Road side following their relegation to the Championship.