Kevin Thomson today admitted he was heartbroken to see his Hibs career end having been part of “one of the poorest teams in the club’s history”.
The midfielder was one of 11 out-of-contract players and three loanees axed by boss Terry Butcher only hours after a penalty shoot-out against Hamilton Accies resulted in the club being relegated to the Championship, where they will join Rangers and Capital rivals Hearts.
After surrendering the two-goal lead they’d earned in the first leg at New Douglas Park only a few days earlier, Thomson became the first player to miss from the spot after extra-time couldn’t separate the sides, with 18-year-old Jason Cummings also seeing his effort saved while Accies converted all four of theirs.
Relegation prompted a furious reaction from fans, with around 600 gathering outside Easter Road to demand the heads of both chairman Rod Petrie and Butcher, and today Mike Riley, chairman of the Hibs Supporters’ Association, continued the calls for a “complete clearout” with plans being drawn up as to how they will go about seeing their wishes met.
Thomson, who only featured intermittently under Butcher, was joined in heading for the exit door by former skipper James McPake, Alan Maybury, Tom Taiwo, Ben Williams and Paul Cairney along with youngsters Paul Grant, Bradley Donaldson, David Gold and Dean Horribine while loan players Duncan Watmore, Danny Haynes and Daniel Boateng all returned to their parent clubs.
Butcher met with Petrie and new chief executive Leeann Dempster, who doesn’t officially join Hibs until June 1, to begin laying plans for the future which, obviously, include putting together virtually an entire new squad with current captain Liam Craig having also been told he’s free to find another club despite having a year to run on his contract.
Thomson, who only played eight times, half of them as a substitute since Butcher succeeded Pat Fenlon as boss in November, insisted he’d like to think he’d repaid the manager when he did play but, he conceded, Hibs’ death warrant had been signed by performances over three or four months, not simply the play-offs.
The 29-year-old said: “We have been rubbish, it’s been a massive under-achievement for everybody but I can only take my hat off to Hamilton and say over the course of the two games they deserved to win and we got what we deserved.”
Thomson revealed he’d never taken a penalty in a shoot-out before but insisted on taking the first to “lead by example” only to see his shot saved by Accies goalkeeper Kevin Cuthbert.
He said: “When Maurice Malpas was asking who was taking penalties I was picking up a drink and I never heard anyone other than Liam Craig and someone else, only two names. I said I would go first, there were a few tired bodies, we were nervous, you could see that by the way we played, and I wanted to stick my chest out and take responsibility.
“It’s broken my heart to be part of something that’s led to the club being relegated. Everybody knows what the club means to me, I am sick telling people I am Hibs daft, it’s in my family. Now being part of something that’s going down as one of the poorest teams in the club’s history is heartbreaking.”