THE hairs on Ivan Sproule’s neck stood up on end as Easter Road erupted into scenes of absolute bedlam at the end of Hibs’ 1-0 win over Hearts last Sunday.
Now the Irishman is desperate for the club’s fans to turn their home ground into a deafening cauldron of noise every week as he reckons the atmosphere for Sunday’s William Hill Scottish Cup clash – a match won by Hibs thanks to a late strike from David Wotherspoon – was one of the best he has experienced over his two spells in Leith.
He believes that the players feed off the passion coming from the stands and is keen to see Easter Road bounce on a regular basis to benefit the team.
The 31-year-old said: “We have waited a long time for that win. I have experienced it before in my previous spell with the club, so I know how much it means to everyone involved with Hibs.
“The supporters and the club as a whole needed that victory. I thought the lads fought hard for it and deserved the win.
“It was a special, special atmosphere in the stadium. The noise and the passion in something that I would like to see back at Easter Road week in, week out. The place was really rocking, you could just about see the stands bounce.
“The players loved it, so let’s hope it can continue and that we can push on from what was a really good win for us.”
It certainly was one of the best atmospheres that Easter Road had seen in some time and Sproule felt the game itself had been great entertainment, even if the football had been below recent standards.
He added: “These are the games that you want to play in and it is always a fantastic spectacle. Even if you’re a neutral, they’re great to watch.
“The game on Sunday maybe wasn’t the greatest of football games, but it would have been so entertaining watching to see how it was going to go, there was so much at stake for both sides. It all made for a great 90 minutes.”
The Irishman has been forced to make do with a seat on the bench for much of this season but, while he admits that he has been frustrated by his lack of game time, Sproule knows that manager Pat Fenlon would find it difficult to change a successful side.
The Easter Road outfit are riding high in second place in the SPL and now have a place in the last 16 of the Scottish Cup at the beginning of next year to look forward to.
Sproule went on: “Obviously I would prefer to be playing, but I have spoken to the manager and I am speaking to him on a regular basis. I am being patient because the lads are winning. We are sitting second in the league and we are into the last 16 of the cup.
“You can’t really complain too much. I want to be playing football, but I am not silly either.
“Hopefully over the next few weeks I can get myself back into the starting line-up and get a bit more football under my belt. At the end of the day, I want to play for Hibs and I am giving 120 per cent in training.”
While Sproule came on for the final 20 minutes of Sunday’s win over John McGlynn’s side, with the likes of James McPake, Tim Clancy and Gary Deegan missing out altogether because of injury.
Still, there was a clamour of players, fit and injured, on the park after the final whistle as they all rushed to celebrate what was a much-desired win.
“The players took a lot of criticism after the cup final back in May, and rightly so,” Sproule recalled, “but I am sure a few of them would have wanted to put a few things to bed. This is a really tight group of players and a group of lads who really want to do well for one another.
“Everyone wants to play their part and I think that everyone just wanted to show our appreciation to the fans for the way that they have stuck by us.
“I think the result on Sunday was our way of giving them something back and hopefully this is just the start.”
Hibs return to league business against Inverness on Saturday and Sproule knows that his side will have to put just as much effort in at the Caledonian Stadium if they want to head back down the A9 victorious.
“We got a great win against St Johnstone in our last league game and should have a bit of confidence from the cup win, but we’ve got to make sure that we build on it. We know how difficult a place Inverness can be to play.
“I don’t know how he does it, but Terry Butcher certainly gets the best out of this players.
“We will have to be focused and determined if we want to come back down the road with all three points against a very, very good Inverness side.”