Hibs strikers Jason Cummings and James Keatings are running riot both on and off the pitch, scoring goals for fun to help Hibs storm to a 14-match unbeaten run while causing havoc in the dressing-room.
And that, claimed Easter Road team-mate Martin Boyle, is the spirit among head coach Alan Stubbs’ squad, happy to have a laugh but deadly serious when it comes to training and playing.
But, he revealed, Cummings and Keatings have proved to be the jokers in the pack, citing the day of the official club photo-shoot when the pair turned up sporting outrageous hairstyles as one of the few high jinks he could share.
He said: “They can be a bit of a riot at times, there’s a lot of fooling about. They’re either duelling against each other or causing havoc with everyone else. They keep you on your toes.
“On the day of the photo-shoot I think they put a bet on to do each other’s hair and to who would cave in first. But Taff [assistant head coach Andy Holden] is a bit old school and he was having none of it.
“It probably took about three showers for them to get all of the gel out of their hair. It’s all good fun, everyone is happy to come into training and there’s a really good team spirit.”
And that unity, insisted Boyle, extends beyond those who are enjoying a regular starting place to others, like himself, who have been forced to be patient and await the sort of opportunity he was afforded in the midweek victory over Livingston, his first start in six weeks.
The former Montrose and Dundee forward said: “I think the boys are happy, we are winning because we are a big unit here. We play for the team, it’s a joy to be part of a winning team. I know I haven’t had as many starts as I would have liked, but I’m as happy as anyone else if we are getting the three points at the end of the day.
“With the size and strength of the squad there are a lot of boys missing out. That just shows you how strong the squad is, we have two for every position so everyone if fighting for their place.
“You don’t go in thinking if you have a bad game you’re out. We all have a job to do on the pich and I think everyone has done extremely well. Even the boys in the stands are part of the team as well.”
In such circumstances it can be difficult for a manager to keep everyone happy but, Boyle insisted, Stubbs is doing exactly that. He said: “The manager has to take credit for making everyone feel part of it. He speaks to all the boys and everyone trains extremely hard.
“It’s hard to get into a winning team, everyone knows that. If the team are doing extremely well then there aren’t going to be many changes. But when you do get in you have to try and take your chance.”
Boyle helped Dundee to the Championship title two seasons ago but, the 22-year-old recalled, the Dens Park outfit never enjoyed such an extended run of success as Hibs.
He said: “When we won the league at Dundee we were always very inconsistent. We would win and then we would lose now and again. So I have never been on a run like this – hopefully we can keep that going.”
And the secret to remaining unbeaten is simple according to Boyle. “We just need to take it game by game. Rangers got off to a fantastic start but we’re on their tails the moment. We had a wee slip at the start but we are two points behind them now. Any team is capable of beating any other, but we’re just looking after ourselves.”
The past four weeks have been particularly rewarding for Stubbs and his players, winning the game in hand they enjoyed over Rangers when they defeated Falkirk, a success which was followed by another victory on the road against Raith Rovers before that decisive showdown with the Ibrox club, the three points gained that day narrowing the gap which has since been cut again with triumphs over St Mirren and Livingston – not to mention dumping Dundee United out of the League Cup.
A big part of that, of course, has been the goals of Cummings – he scored in seven consecutive games – and now Keatings who has netted five times in his last two matches.
Boyle said: “They’re both full of confidence so hopefully we can keep them fit and strong so they can keep going. Jason was on a great run and although it came to an end he’s not going to let that bother him.
“Keatsy has always had that ability. I played against him when I was at Dundee and he was at Hamilton and scorng for them. He obviously never got a lot of opportunities at Hearts, but when he played he scored. He was a bit unlucky but fair play to him for leaving to seek first-team football.
“He has had injuries but when he is fit and strong he’s shown what he can do.”
Boyle claimed to be unaware of any wager between Cummings and Keatings as to who might end the season as top scorer but admitted at the moment is money would be on Cummings given he’s presently on 13 to Keatings seven but added: “They’re a great partnership, they feed off each other. I’d probably put my money on Jason but hopefully they can both end up with 30 goals.”