A JUBILANT Pat Fenlon today dedicated his first Edinburgh derby win to the Hibs support and urged them to “come back and see us again.”
Easter Road housed its biggest crowd of the season as David Wotherspoon’s deflected shot ended a 42-month wait to beat Capital rivals Hearts, sending the Scottish Cup holders out of this season’s competition barely six months after they trounced Fenlon’s side to lift the trophy.
Now Fenlon has his fingers crossed that those fans disenchanted by that 5-1 hammering at Hampden in May will be encouraged to return, insisting the more who do so, the greater his chance of bolstering a squad which has confounded everyone by climbing from second bottom place in the SPL table to second top.
The number of Hibs fans turning up at Easter Road has been slowly but surely rising in recent weeks but, pointing out there were some 4000 more at yesterday’s game than had witnessed the first derby of the season in Leith, Fenlon hopes most, if not all, of them will be back for the visits of Motherwell, Ross County and Celtic before the end of the year.
Fenlon’s coffers could also be boosted by a cup run and the Hibs boss has his fingers crossed the support will see the win over Hearts, Hibs’ first since Derek Riordan scored the winner from the penalty spot at Tynecastle in May, 2009, as further proof that his side are worth going to see.
He said: “There was a big jump in our support from the first derby but the important thing is can we entice these people back to the club? If we can do so on a regular basis it means we can make the team better, that’s what we have to try to do and the more that come back the better.”
Although it was his first derby win in five attempts, Fenlon refused to bask in any personal glory, insisting the victory belonged to the supporters as he pointed to the pain they had suffered only a few months
He said: “To be honest, it’s not a personal thing. I don’t get personal over football, the big pleasure I got out of the game was realising the fans have gone away enjoying it because May was a horrible day for everyone involved in the club.
“It’s not payback for that, but when the whistle goes you remember the people after the Cup final who were so devastated, it’s more to do with that then myself.
“We will enjoy it, of course, but it is only part of a process for me.
“I am the manager of a fantastic football club and if I can get results for them [the fans] and they enjoy it, then great. In relation to me it’s not really relevant. I am delighted for them, the pleasure I get out of it is I know people have gone away delighted and were going to enjoy the night and the week. They have the bragging rights for the first time in a long time and they are entitled to it, that’s the pleasure I get out of it, to be honest.
“I look on it as the next result and we move on.
“We are in the hat for the next round which is great and it is also important as it will help the club financially.”
Adding “I hope so,” when asked if the victory and the possibility of an extended run in the competition could help provide the funds for him to attract new faces next month, Fenlon added: “If we can get as many fans back on as regular basis as we can then it’s all revenue coming into the club which can only help, whether in relation to getting players in or other things within the club.”
Meanwhile, Hibs medical staff were today assessing the ankle injury which saw leading scorer Leigh Griffiths stretchered off with more than 30 minutes to play although the on-loan Wolves hitman returned to join his team-mates in the celebrations which followed the final whistle.
Fenlon said: “Leigh has had a bit of a problem with his ankle over the last three or four weeks but we will see how it is. It was a big day for him, he is a supporter and it probably meant more to him than anyone.”