It’s been described as the weekend that’s never ended and 119 days on since Hibs lifted the Scottish Cup there’s no sign that the euphoria which gripped the club with that historic win ever disappearing.
The trophy is currently being carried to 114 destinations – one for each year Hibs were left waiting to get their hands on the Cup. Midfielder Marvin Bartley and his team-mates find themselves feted by grateful fans wherever they go.
It all adds up, claimed Bartley, to Easter Road being the happiest place in Scottish football, the 30-year-old saying: “Since May it has been brilliant. Everyone is on the green train and it keeps rolling. It hasn’t stopped, it has been fantastic.
“Not just for the boys on the pitch, the fans and everyone here who does the hard work behind the scenes. It has been brilliant. I’ve never been in a dressing room like this and I haven’t had a start to a season like this in my career.
“I have been in some good dressing rooms before, but here right now, everyone is delighted. I know everyone says that, but they really are here, we’re all pulling in the same direction, even the boys who aren’t playing, we’re all in it together.”
If anyone feared a hangover going into the new season, that everything would go flat after such an achievement, those worries have proved to be misplaced with Hibs, now under the charge of new boss Neil Lennon, having clocked up five successive league wins to top the Championship table and live up to their billing as title and promotion favourites.
So good so far, but, insisted Bartley, there’s no room for complacency, not that Lennon will allow the slightest drop in standards.
He said: “When you are winning games there is no better feeling. But we can’t get silly with it. We need to keep going and grinding out results and that starts all over against Ayr United today.
“It’s up to us to continue that now because one loss and you know what it’s like in football, you start to beat yourself up and we can’t allow that to happen.”
Victory at Dumbarton, a ground where Hibs were beaten twice last season underlined their new-found ability to dig out a result, Lennon claiming he’d got as much satisfaction from the 1-0 win as the 4-0 demolition of Morton, leading Bartley to joke: “I’m glad someone got some enjoyment from that game.
“But I understand what he is saying. It’s a tough place to go, the pitch looked okay from the side but when we got on it the grass was long, basically just to help them which is fair play to them.
“A win is a win for me. The performance wasn’t great but we won the game and come the end of the season no-one will look back and say we’ weren’t great in that game. We’d take 31 more performances like that – although I’m not sure the fans would. They’d be pulling their hair out on the sidelines.”
Having made their best start to a season in 70 years and with the chance to make it the best ever with a sixth straight win today, Bartley revealed how Lennon is making sure his players don’t get carried away.
He said: “You can see him on the side of the pitch – well, he’s worse in training. He keeps us in check. He demands high standards at all times. I fall short of them sometimes and I hear ‘Marv, Marv’. It’s like being back home with my mum. It’s fine, I have dealt with it loads of times in my career.
“It’s not hair dryer stuff. He’ll shout at you really loud to get your attention. Then he’ll be like: ‘C’mon. And you’re like, yeah, okay’.”
However, with Lennon having also played the role of midfield enforcer, Bartley feels he, perhaps, comes under closer scrutiny. He said: “The gaffer played my position, that’s the problem!
“I could have done with a goalkeeper coming in as manager so I could tell them: ‘That’s what happens when you play there’. But he played my position so he takes no s**t from me. I can learn from him, he was a very good player in my position, he did a similar job in the teams he played in.
“It’s nothing personal, he just wants the best for everybody in every position. That’s just the way he gets his point across and who are we to argue. Everyone is working so hard on the training pitch.
“Before boys could have taken their foot off the gas and still think they were going to play. It doesn’t happen now, standards are so high. Everyone is putting their all in. You can’t train great every day but you can put the effort in, it makes a huge difference. And we are carrying that on to Saturdays.
“So for us it has been massively different, we’ve got five wins out of five in the league and long may it continue.”
Bartley insisted he couldn’t remember the longest winning run he’d enjoyed, although he claimed to have racked up 12 on Football Manager, adding: “This has got to be the longest. I’ve been on unbeaten runs, but never five out of five.”
However, as Hibs continue to re-write the script, Bartley insisted one thing will remain the same, the chances of him scoring a goal. Having claimed just nine in his entire career, he said: “I think the world would end if I scored a goal. What would I do? Probably pass out.”