Forgotten Hibs full-back Callum Booth today admitted he hopes he can jog new Easter Road boss Terry Butcher’s memory by helping Raith Rovers have a season to remember.
The 22-year-old is on a season-long loan at Stark’s Park after being frozen out of former manager Pat Fenlon’s plans, but with 18 months of his Hibs contract remaining, he believes he is in a “win-win” position in Kirkcaldy.
Booth, who rose to prominence at Hibs under Colin Calderwood in 2011 and impressed at left-back, hasn’t played for Hibs since the Easter Road outfit’s League Cup defeat by Queen of the South last year. He was farmed out on loan to Livingston by Pat Fenlon just days after that loss and this season was immediately sent to Raith for the start of the current Championship season.
While Booth insists he is enjoying his time in Fife – they are third in their league and have two trips to Easter Road to savour, the Ramsden’s Cup final against Rangers and a Scottish Cup fifth round tie with his parent club – he admitted he still hopes he can catch Butcher’s eye over the coming months.
“I’m lucky enough to have another year after this one on my contract at Hibs, but at the moment I’m not really thinking too much about it,” Booth told the Evening News. “I’m focusing on doing well for Raith until the end of the season and we’ll reassess things then. That’s all half-a-year away and a lot can happen in that time.
“I honestly don’t know if anyone from Hibs has been across to see me play this season. Terry Butcher is just in the door at Easter Road and will undoubtedly have plenty on his plate for the time being, but I’m sure he’ll have someone check on me. It’s not as if he doesn’t know me. I played against Inverness Caley when he was there.”
In fact, one of Booth’s finest moments in a Hibs shirt came in February 2011 against Butcher’s Inverness. Hibs won that match 2-0 at Easter Road and Booth scored the second goal, a 25-yard strike into the top corner. That is in the past, however, and for now, Booth is enjoying life in at Stark’s Park.
“At the moment, I have a manager who has faith in me and I definitely feel I am getting back to my best,” continued the Stranraer-born youngster “I’m enjoying being at Raith, so much so I’ve actually moved over to live in Dunfermline.
“It’s a good club. All the boys are brilliant to work with and we’ve got so much to look forward to this season – the final of the Ramsden’s Cup, a Scottish Cup match at Easter Road and we are handily placed in a league. If you don’t win the title, but make the top four, there’s a play-off place, so promotion to the Premiership is a possibility.
“The way I look at it, I’m in a win-win situation.”
Incredibly Booth is the only member of the Hibs Under-19 league and cup double-winning side of 2009 still under contract at Easter Road although, as he pointed out, “I’m not even there,” a striking example of just how quickly the make-up of a football club dressing-room can change.
He said: “It’s quite incredible to think of what’s happened. There’s really only Paul Hanlon, Lewis Stevenson, Danny Handling, James McPake and Ross Caldwell and a few of the younger boys left. It’s quite scary to think things can change so quickly, but that’s football. Everyone has his opinions and the old manager had his although it was all a bit strange.
“When a new manager comes in, the first couple of weeks in training are crazy. The tackles fly in with everyone keen to impress and then it calms down a bit, but a new boss does have his own ideas and unfortunately for me I didn’t seem to fit into his [Pat Fenlon’s] plans.”
Booth admitted, however, that even the nature of his departure was somewhat surreal, that League Cup shocker at Palmerston Park almost like a las chance for himself, Pa Kujabi and Sean O’Hanlon who, like him, didn’t pull on a green-and-white shirt again.
He said: “There had actually been talk of me going out on loan to Livingston, but Ivan Sproule was suspended for the cup game – I think they only realised at the last minute. I came in, but it didn’t work out for me. That was the Tuesday night and on the Saturday I was playing for Livingston against Falkirk.
“I didn’t really have any contact with the old manager after that. I was training every day with Livingston as they are full-time, whereas when I’d previously been on loan at Arbroath and Brechin, I’d train with them once a week and spend the rest of the time at East Mains.
“I finished with Livingston and was at Raith for the first day of pre-season training. I only really went back to Hibs to sign the paperwork.
“Since then, Raith have had a good start to the season. As I’ve said, we’ve got a lot of big games to look forward to and I’ll see what the future holds next summer.”