Bring me sunshine - new Hibs boss can’t wait for definitive Easter Road experience
Nick Montgomery proclaims his love of Hibs terracing anthem as he talks looking forward to his first Easter Road experience
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He’s watched the videos, spoken to those who’ve experienced it first hand, even learned the words of what he calls ‘one of the most special songs in world football’. The prospect of joining Hibs fans in an emotional sing-along of Sunshine on Leith is all the inspiration Nick Montgomery needs to go all-out for glory as head coach.
One of the first things the former Central Coast Mariners boss did, when offered the chance to take over at Easter Road, was immerse himself in YouTube clips of a terracing anthem that has earned Hibs supporters global praise. And Montgomery hopes that he’ll soon be able to demonstrate his own singing style – enthusiastic, rather than tuneful – as part of the choir.
“I’ve watched that numerous times,” he said, when asked about the unofficial club hymn of Hibernian FC. “It makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. I’d love to see it in real life now. I’ve visualised it. But you need to win some big games to get that - and that’s what I aim to do. I know the words, yes! I’ll be joining in for sure. Even if I’ve not got a good voice!
“When I got the job, I had a look. It’s a famous song and The Proclaimers are a famous band. They have great music and I’ve always been a fan. Actually seeing the fans singing the song and the players talking about it ... David Gray is on my staff and I’ve spoken to him about it as well. That must drive the boys on to win big games because it’s probably one of the most special songs in world football.”
Montgomery is excited about today’s home debut as boss, with St Johnstone the visitors. Claiming to be only ‘pretty sure’ that he played at Easter Road for Scotland Under-21s a couple of decades ago, the 41-year-old Englishman took an opportunity to sit in the empty stadium last week – and imagine what it’ll feel like to be roared into the technical area today.
“I’m big on visualisation,” he said. “I had a look around and imagined the place rocking. I’ve seen clips on YouTube from big games when the fans are in full voice.
“I’m looking forward to being there and feeling it this weekend. I’ve walked into many stadiums in my career and, when they’re empty, you can hear your own voice echoing.
“But I’ve been in a lot of games with big crowds. I know the crowd here is fantastic, the supporters are passionate and I can’t wait to get out there and for the boys to put on a performance.
“When you’ve been a player then the full focus is on the game. It’s that surreal thing where the crowd’s there but, when you are playing or coaching, it’s noise on the outside. But in big moments you obviously take that in and suck the energy - and that’s the good thing about being at home with a big fan base behind you.”
Taking a totally immersive approach to the new job, spending long hours at the training ground and trying to get a grip on all aspects of his new home, Montgomery looked shocked when asked how much down time he’d enjoyed since his arrival last Monday, grinning as he asked: “What’s down time?
“It’s been full on learning. Meeting players and staff and getting a real grip on everything. But the last couple of days leading into this game have been pretty relaxed. You have to immerse yourself in the city and club.
“I’ve watched the women’s team training, I’ve watched the youth team training. I think it’s important that you have a real understanding of the set-up at the club and realise how big the club is.
“It’s a massive club and there is a really good structure in place. You know when you come in it’s a big club. But once you get in the door you can take time to appreciate how big it is, the history of the club.
“Walking around the stadium, I was just trying to learn everything about the club. I won’t sit here and tell you I know everything already because I don’t. But I’m trying to get to know everybody.
“I met the ground staff last week – and told them to get some water on the pitch, make sure it’s ready for a big week! I’m remembering most names. As time goes on, hopefully I will know everybody.
“I’m giving information to the players every day on the training ground, doing video analysis. We’ve tried not to overload them but give them as much information as possible, so there is no doubt about what is needed during the game.
“Everybody else is giving me information, so they’re probably overloading me! I just keep nodding and saying: ‘Yeah, OK, I’ll speak to you next week about that.
“I’m not even two weeks into the job and they say it takes 21 days to adapt, physically and mentally, to a big change and a new environment. So I think that gives me 10 days more to do that.”