Comment: Ronald Gordon has brought renewed sense of optimism to Hibs

Hibs fan and Evening News journalist James Delaney looks forward to a new regime at Easter Road under new owner Ronald Gordon

Tuesday, 2nd July 2019, 7:02 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd July 2019, 8:02 pm

"So when is Mbappe signing?"

Like thousands of Hibs fans, any murmurings of a takeover bid instantly conjured up images of the Hibees brushing aside the likes of Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain on our inevitable canter to the footballing stratosphere.

And who can blame us? Through near extinction, to crushing relegations and numerous cup-final heartaches before reaching the promised land ... we have been put through the ringer more than most.

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Ronald Gordon has taken the reins at Easter Road, heralding a new regime at Hibs

The early signs from Ronald Gordon are good. Wiping out our debt six years ahead of schedule is not to be sniffed at and the fact he has been courted by the current ownership set-up suggests he is not in this to make a quick dollar.

A seven-figure investment in Scottish footballing terms is likely to yield some kind of return, especially if it is invested in the playing squad. The new owner is not coming into a club that needs vast improvements to its infrastructure.

The post-Scottish Cup winning buzz was enough to carry most fans through some of the tougher moments last season - if I ever have to watch that performance at Kilmarnock in December again, I will have to assume I’m being tortured - but this has brought a renewed sense of optimism ahead of the first full campaign under head coach Paul Heckingbottom and his assistant Robbie Stockdale.

As Neil Lennon’s incarnation of Hibs proved, it is easily possible the men in green-and-white can be regular challengers for the European spots and with Celtic having something of a wobble over the summer, Aberdeen being forced to retune their squad and Rangers, well, being Rangers, the gap between the Hibees and that clutch of teams is narrowing.

Unfortunately, however, pessimism comes free with every season ticket at Easter Road and Scottish football is littered with examples of clubs opening themselves up to outside investment, only for everything to come crashing down very quickly.

Our neighbours across the city are a shining example of just how badly wrong investment from outside the typical Scottish footballing sphere can go, although I have been assured Mr Gordon has no access to a submarine.

I wasn’t born when Sir Tom Farmer rescued the club from oblivion in the early 1990s, but I do remember the absolute malaise that surrounded Easter Road following our relegation to the second tier in 1998.

I also had the misfortune to be right behind the goal in the Famous Five stand when Hamilton sent us tumbling in a similar direction in 2014, and can vividly recall the furious calls for Rod Petrie’s head that followed.

It is clear that both men have enshrined themselves in the history of our club. Sir Tom in particular ensured there is still a Hibs to write about when it looked like we would be wiped off the footballing map, while Petrie, so often the public target of the Easter Road faithful’s derision, stuck around when it would have been easier to walk away.

The heights Hibs reached in May 2016 were like nothing any of us had ever experienced and both are well entitled to claiming some responsibility for getting us to that point.

Three years later, we have a behind the scenes structure that has bought into the future of the club, a team boasting club legends on the pitch and a passionate, enfranchised support backing an exciting management duo.

We can dream of an Easter Road with filled in corners boasting a surround-sound tannoy system that allows fans in every area of the ground to hear Matthias De Ligt is coming on to see out the 5-0 win over Hearts, sealing our first top flight title in almost 70 years.

But for now, I'll take evolution over revolution.