Right now the wounds are still raw from Hibs’ harrowing 7-0 annihilation at the hands of Malmo. They are being written off left, right and centre, with fans now fearing the worst for the upcoming campaign.
As they bid to get Thursday’s humiliation out of their system in time for next Sunday’s SPFL Premiership opener with Motherwell, Pat Fenlon’s beleaguered bunch can at least take heart from the fact the Easter Road side’s last seven-goal trouncing was followed, just 48 hours later, by a derby victory.
On 30 December 1995, Alex Miller’s Hibs came back from Ibrox after being obliterated by a Paul Gascoigne-inspired Rangers. Gordon Durie, the former Hibs striker, scored four that day 17 and a half years ago, with Charlie Miller, Gascoigne and Oleg Salenko netting the others against a Hibs side who, at that point, were one of the strongest in the country outwith the Old Firm. Aside from the scoreline, that match was perhaps most notable for being the day Gazza was booked for playfully flashing the yellow card at spoilsport referee Dougie Smith after it had fallen out of his pocket.
“This has been the most embarrassing day of my life,” lamented Miller after the game, sentiments similar to those of Fenlon the other night.
Yet, incredibly, just two days later, the Hibs players were able to rouse themselves to win a New Year’s Day Edinburgh derby at Easter Road. Not only that, but they did it after Hearts, who were building up a head of steam under Jim Jefferies, had taken an early lead through Neil Pointon. Hans Eskilsson, the hapless Swedish striker, should have put the Jambos two up when he spurned a sitter, and he was made to pay as Hibs came roaring back to win the game 2-1 thanks to goals by Kevin Harper and Michael O’Neill.
It was quite a turnaround and Fenlon must hope the current Hibs players can conjure up the same strength of character to begin the process of putting things right next weekend.