Driven Hibs kid Oli Shaw passes two tests in one day

Oli Shaw made his Hibs debut against Montrose last weekend. Pic: Ian Rutherford
Oli Shaw made his Hibs debut against Montrose last weekend. Pic: Ian Rutherford
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Life suddenly moved into the fast lane for Oli Shaw, the Hibs kid enjoying a day he’ll never forget.

If passing his driving test at the first attempt wasn’t enough to be getting on with, the 17-year-old topped that achievement as he made his Easter Road debut only a few hours later.

And it more than made up for his disappointment the previous day when, having scored for Hibs Under-20s in a match against English side Brentford at East Mains, he was taken off at half-time.

Little did he know at that point what lay in store, coach Joe McBride simply telling him the “gaffer” Alan Stubbs wanted to see him in his office. The youngster said: “I was honestly a bit annoyed at being taken off because all you want to do is play. I’d scored a goal and was hoping to add to it.

“I didn’t realise why I was being taken off, I didn’t know I was going to be in the squad for the League Cup match against Montrose the next day. Joe told me to go and see the gaffer, who told me I was in his squad for the next day.

“That was great news in itself, but even then I didn’t think I would even be on the bench, never mind making my debut.”

There was, however, the small matter of the next morning’s driving test, one of the big moments in any 17-year-old’s life, but one which Shaw, son of former Airdrie, Dunfermline and Falkirk player Greg passed with flying 
colours.

He said: “It went smoothly. I’d obviously had a few lessons since my birthday in March. I didn’t let the fact I was going to be in the squad a wee bit later worry me at all. The test was at 9 o’clock and by half-past it was all over and it was a great feeling to be told I had passed it.

“One of the boys then picked me up to go an join the rest of the squad.”

But it wasn’t until 90 minutes before kick-off Shaw learned he’d actually be among the substitutes, one of five teenagers placed on the bench by Stubbs as he contended with a lengthy list of absentees, summer arrivals James Keatings and Dan Carmichael yet to find full match fitness as has his latest signing John McGinn, while Farid El Alagui and Martin Boyle continue to recover from knee operations.

Knocks picked up during the Petrofac Training Cup defeat at the hands of Championship rivals Rangers ruled out both Dominique Malonga and Jordon Forster although the situation was eased very so slightly as another new boy, Marvin Bartley, made his debut.

Even so, four of those teenagers – Shaw, Jordan Sinclair, Aaron Dunsmore and Callum Crane – hadn’t enjoyed a minute of first team action between them, a situation that changed as first Shaw and then Sinclair were given the nod by Stubbs, the former getting the last quarter of an hour as he replaced Alex Harris and his young team-mate a six-minute cameo in place of Sam Stanton.

Shaw, from the Barnton area of Edinburgh, said: “I tried to stay relaxed when I was told I’d be on the bench, but at the same time thinking positively hoping I might get a wee chance. I’ve only been full-time at the club for two months – if that – so it was quite incredible to find myself going onto the pitch, but obviously the gaffer must have felt I’d done well enough in the under-20 games to give me that opportunity.

“It was something I’ve dreamt of since I was a young boy and for it to come true so soon was fantastic. Passing my driving test was great, but it didn’t in any way match up to making my debut. It would only have been topped if I’d managed to sneak myself a goal as well.

“Then to have Sinky come on to the pitch as well was brilliant. I’m sure both Aaron and Callum would have been wishing that it had been them, but both of them were just pleased for the two of us.”

Shaw and Sinclair joined another teenager in action, Scott Martin having started his first match against Rangers the previous week and not only held his place in the team but marked the occasion by claiming his first goal for the club, Scott Allan and Jason 
Cummings adding second half strikes to ensure a comfortable win and a berth in the second round against Stranraer.

A fan of the Easter Road club, Shaw said: “I actually joined Hibs from Hearts when I was 15. Everyone has been telling me getting that chance is what it is all about and the fact Scott Martin isn’t much older than Sinky and myself shows the 
opportunities are there at Hibs if you work hard enough.”

Revealing the No.51 shirt he wore had been taken home to be framed and hung on the wall, Shaw was also the first to admit that as Stubbs’ squad is strengthened over the coming few weeks with the return of those much more experienced players who have been absent up to this point will, inevitably, see him and the other kids involved at the weekend fall down the pecking order.

But at the same time he’s determined to ensure he remains very much in Stubbs’ thoughts. He said: “Having had a wee taste of it just makes me want to work even harder to get in among it all again. So it’s a case of getting back on the training ground, getting my head down and putting in the work which, hopefully, will see me get 
another chance soon.”