Jack Brydon reflects on 'surreal' year as Hibs defender makes first-team vow

Hibs defender Jack Brydon has reflected on a “surreal” 2021 in which he played with the Easter Road first team and travelled to Andorra and Croatia for Europa Conference League matches against Santa Coloma and Rijeka.

Jack Brydon is keen to continue his progress at Easter Road
Jack Brydon is keen to continue his progress at Easter Road

The centre-back was one of seven Academy graduates to sign professional contracts in January and since then he has impressed on loan at Stenhousemuir where, as a raw 17-year-old he kept the club’s captain out of the starting line-up, trained regularly with the first-team squad, and spent a second loan spell at Civil Service Strollers in the Lowland League to hone his skills under the watchful eye of Gary Jardine and Joe Mbu.

With that loan stint due to expire in January, and new manager Shaun Maloney keen to cast an eye over all his players, the 18-year-old has a chance to impress the new boss.

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Speaking to the Hibs website, the centre-back said: “When I joined the Academy, it was a dream come true and I’ve never taken it for granted.

Jack Brydon takes part in the pre-match warm-up ahead of the away leg against HNK Rijeka

“Now being with the first team has just taken everything to a whole new level. It’s still strange for me being with all the first-team players because as a little boy I grew up as a Hibs fan watching a lot of them from the stands.

“When you’re a Hibs fan you think the players are all superheroes. When they’re with you at HTC, they’re all really nice.”

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Brydon has two ideal role models in club captain Paul Hanlon and veteran defender Darren McGregor, both of whom won the Scottish Cup in 2016. The pair have been more than happy to help their younger colleague improve his game with extra sessions at East Mains.

“In training I’m mainly working alongside Daz and he’s helped me a lot. He’s talking me through games, showing me little things,” Brydon continued.

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"I’ve also been picking Paul’s brains and stayed behind after sessions with him to work on heading; he’s given me tips, too.”

Brydon was still featuring for the club’s under-18 side last season, chipping in with a couple of goals, but come the summer he got gametime in a pre-season friendly with Raith Rovers.

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“Before I came on, I felt good and ready, then when I went on the pitch and the fans were clapping, and I was on the same pitch as the first-team players, I almost had to throw cold water over myself to make sure it was all real,” he continued.

“You grow up as a Hibs fan, then you step out onto the field with those players, and you think ‘is this really happening?’”

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Brydon remains focused on one goal – breaking into the first-team squad and staying there – and knows exactly what he has to do to succeed.

“I never expected to be with the first team this early in my development. Now I have to stop feeling star-struck or out of place.

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"It’s been really strange, and I can’t believe it, but I’m loving the experience. And once the surreal feeling fades, I will hopefully start to feel I belong at this level.”