Callum Booth is delighted Hibs’ losing streak has been brought to an end – because he can now show his face beyond his front door again.
The Easter Road kid revealed he hardly ventured out for a week following the derby day defeat by Hearts – a tenth successive match without a win bonus for the Scotland Under-21 star and his team-mates.
But now the young defender can hold his head high after helping Pat Fenlon’s side clinch back-to-back victories for the first time this season, wins he hopes can help turn the Capital club’s fortunes around.
Having disappointed those who were looking for a Scottish Cup upset as they faced Second Division leaders Cowdenbeath, Hibs went on to win the relegation “six-pointer” against Dunfermline, results which, Booth claimed, have brought the feel-good factor back to Easter Road.
He said: “I think everyone knew these two games could make or break our season. We were all focused and perhaps up for it a little bit more because so many people had been writing us off saying we were such a bad Hibs team. A lot of people were thinking there might be an upset at Cowdenbeath so we knew we had to be at our best, to raise our game that little bit more.
“Dunfermline was another massive game, but having that win at Cowdenbeath behind us meant we perhaps had a bit more confidence. We knew the position we were in and that we had to get out of it somehow so hopefully that’s us turned the corner now.”
The 20-year-old is also hoping his own season has taken a turn for the better, confined to the sidelines for two months after being dropped and then having to overcome an ankle injury, his absence covering the period when Pat Fenlon took over as manager from Colin Calderwood.
He said: “The old manager dropped me to the bench for a couple of games which was understandable because I had not been playing brilliantly.
“Then I had an ankle injury which kept me out for a while and it took me two months to get back into the side.
“I think that happens to most young players. You go through a spell when you are on the sidelines, but maybe it was a good thing for me, letting me sit in the stand to see different things.
“I’ve been back for the last four matches and in three of them I have been quite happy with the way I’ve played. I was quite poor in the Hearts game, but while I still have things to work on I’ve been pleased with my performances.”
Last weekend’s clash at East End Park appeared to signal a “rebonding” between the Hibs players and their fans, a letter having been sent from the support to their stars stressing the need for everyone to pull together given the dire situation in which the club had found itself.
Around 4000 Hibs supporters made the trip across the Forth acting, according to Booth, as the proverbial “12th man”.
He said: “I’d never really thought it was true, but that was definitely the case. Coming out to see the away stand packed and fans being led round to another area of the ground was great. It really spurred us on.”
The fans’ response was a stark contrast to some afternoons at Easter Road this season when the Hibs players have left the pitch to a chorus of boos, a reaction which Booth can understand, although he insisted he and his team-mates still feel they’ve retained the supporters’ backing.
He said: “All fans are like that: when Manchester United go a goal down there is always some sort of reaction. Every supporter wants to see the best from their team and I think if they see you giving 100 per cent they will remain behind you.
“As a Hibs fan I’ve been to quite a few away matches myself over the years and there’s always been a great atmosphere. I’m not saying it’s bad at Easter Road, but there seems to be something about away days when the fans appear to be more vocal.
“It is disappointing, though, that we’ve got ourselves into this situation, but with two wins we can start to look forward and I am sure the fans will be out in their numbers again.”
Although he insisted he hasn’t been affected by the many negative headlines which Hibs have attracted in recent months, claiming he doesn’t read newspapers, Booth admitted he’s been well aware of the criticism.
He said: “I have friends and family who are Hibs fans so I know there’s been criticism and people writing us off but it doesn’t bother me too much. I just try to concentrate on my own game and not concern myself with what other people are saying.
“Where I live there are a lot of Hibs and Hearts fans. I didn’t go out for a week after the Hearts game. I got a bit of stick, but mostly it was banter.”