A SLICE of Colin Calderwood’s crack Nottingham Forest team of 2007-08 will be spread across the Easter Road pitch, dugouts and stands tonight as Hibs host Celtic in the Scottish Communities League Cup quarter-final.
Hibs striker Junior Agogo is set to be the only one to take the pitch, with his current boss Calderwood at pitchside next to Celtic supremo Neil Lennon, whose injured players Kelvin Wilson and Kris Commons will watch from a seat among the crowd.
All five played a part in re-establishing Calderwood’s Forest in the second tier of the English game, winning promotion to the Championship thanks largely to a freescoring Agogo.
The Ghanaian striker hit 17 goals and was supplied by the likes of Commons and Lennon from midfield, while Wilson shored up a miserly defence.
“It’ll be good to see them and have a bit of banter,” said Agogo. “We’ve had some fun times, good memories. We had a really good team at the time, so it will be good, and for the gaffer, too. And for Lenny as well, because I played with him for a bit.
“In football your paths cross more times than you’d expect. I’m sure we’ll have a laugh before the game, but from kick-off we really want to get to the next round of the cup.”
Calderwood froze Lennon, right, out of his side after the ex-Hoops midfielder returned to attend to family matters north of the border four months into the season. Lennon played just two full games for Forest thereafter and transferred to Wycombe Wanderers, where he finished the season before hanging up his boots. Agogo recalls the Celtic manager for his fine leadership skills.
“He came to Forest as a big-name player with a big reputation, and it was great for the boys,” said Agogo. “He was always encouraging the lads and trying to get us to play one-touch more often. Some of the boys took it on board. He played with Willo [Wilson] and Kris Commons and took them to Celtic when he got the job, so obviously they made an impression on them.
“There’s a lot of that team gone on to great things, such as Grant Holt, who’s now captain of Norwich in the Premiership.”
At 32, Agogo is in the twilight of his own career but continues to adapt to change. His latest job, played out during the weekend win at St Mirren, saw him perform in a midfield role behind Garry O’Connor and Leigh Griffiths, whose brace signalled his first goals for Hibs.
“I thought I did alright, playing just behind the front two in midfield, and I did it to the best of my ability,” said Agogo, who has scored once in ten league games this season. “I more or less do it in training, so I just had to take it onto the pitch.
“Gaz and Leigh are doing the business up front and as long as I can chip in with a few and create some . . . it’s a collective effort. Gaz has been on fire since the beginning of the season and I’m sure he’s going to get a lot more goals for us. Leigh’s been doing the right things in training. As long as you’re doing that, you’ve got to be patient and it will come. You’ve just got to believe in yourself. The boy shoots from anywhere anyway, so he’s obviously got loads of confidence.
“Personally, I just have to keep doing the right things in the right areas, keep working hard. Your time will come, it’s the law of averages.”
Agogo did not feature in Hibs’ early-season SPL home loss to Celtic and he will hope his goals-to-games ratio “evens up” in time to inflict pain on some familiar foes this evening.