Hibs’ Grant Murray plans to storm Raith fortress he created

Grant Murray will make his first return to Stark's Park since leaving as manager. Pic: SNS

Grant Murray will make his first return to Stark's Park since leaving as manager. Pic: SNS

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Grant Murray called Stark’s Park home for six years, but on Saturday he’ll go back to the Kirkcaldy ground for the first time since parting with Raith Rovers some 18 months ago.

But as much as he’s looking forward to a return, Grant, now a part of Hibs boss Neil Lennon’s coaching team, insisted he’ll be focused on just one thing – helping ensure the Easter Road side return to winning ways.

However, having worked on making a trip to the Fife stadium an awkward one for any visiting side as both player and manager at Raith, the 41-year-old knows full well that the Capital side will face a difficult afternoon.

He said: “It was something John McGlynn instilled in us as players when he was manager there that it’s your place and you make it difficult for any visiting side.

“I haven’t had an opportunity to go back, but I’m looking forward to it. I had three years as manager there – I was asked to take over when John moved to Hearts. It was great for me and a tremendous learning curve as well being in charge of a full-time football club.

“It was new to me but I was 35 or 36, an experienced player and confident I could step up. The difficult thing was that one day you are travelling with your team-mates and then you are the one making the decision to leave them out on a Saturday, to release players and so on but I knew I had to do it.

“It was a great place to learn, dealing with the day-to-day stuff that a lot of people outside football won’t realise needs to be taken care of.

“The big thing was to 
stay in the league and 
then expectations are higher.”

Murray matched those heightened expectations, taking Raith to the quarter-final of the Scottish Cup including – whisper it - a win over Hibs in Edinburgh, before they were beaten by the eventual winners St Johnstone. He then guided Rovers to their first trophy since 1994, beating Rangers in the final of the Ramsden’s Cup at Easter Road.

The shock arrival of Hibs, Hearts and Rangers in the Championship made the following season difficult for everyone and towards the end of the campaign Murray lost his job after a run of five successive defeats.

He is, though philosophical about that turn of events, saying: “It happens month in, month out.”

Murray, however, wasn’t out of work long, offered the chance to work in Hibs youth academy by its manager Eddie May.

He said: “I’d come across 
Eddie a few times and we met by chance after I’d left Raith and wasn’t doing anything.

“He asked me if I wanted to come in and help in the academy. Obviously I have that Hearts connection, but that wasn’t a problem whatsoever.

“There’s maybe been the odd quip as you’d expect but I’d imagine I’d made my professional debut before a lot of the youngsters were even born.

“You are there, first and foremost, to work with the players and to help them improve and develop.”

When the academy’s head coach Joe McBride moved on during the summer, Murray was asked to take charge of the development squad but, on the arrival of new boss Neil Lennon and his assistant Garry Parker, he found himself also involved in helping with the first team squad.

It makes for a hectic life – he’ll be taking the Under-20s against Aberdeen in Peterhead tomorrow night – but Murry insisted he’s thriving.

He said: “I’ve been involved in full-time football since I was 16. I know what it takes to become a player and it’s no different as a coach. But you have to put the homework in, you are planning everything, from game to game, from week to week, month to month. You are always learning.”