Dean Gibson keen for Hibs Women to build on positive first half of the season as he makes club pride claim
This time four months ago, Hibs Women were still to play in front of a record-breaking 5,512 fans at Easter Road, and more than 3,500 supporters at Tynecastle.
Dean Gibson’s side resume their SWPL season on Sunday, hosting Celtic Women at the Tony Macaroni Arena, and later this term they will take on Fran Alonso’s side at Celtic Park – another chance for the women to play in a big stadium.
"It takes clubs to do that, for this sort of thing to happen,” the Hibs boss says of playing matches in large arenas. “I think clubs should be proud of what their women’s teams are doing.
"And it’s not just Hibs and Hearts. Celtic and Rangers are already doing it but you’ve got Motherwell who are doing more; Hamilton, who I think are one of the better-run clubs in terms of what they’re doing.”
Supporters who predominantly follow men’s teams are often urged to show similar backing for the women but Gibson insists it can work both ways.
"I think clubs should be more proud of their women’s teams, and allow us to showcase what we can do, and that will attract fans,” he continues.
"For the first derby at Easter Road, I think it was a figure of around 65, 70 per cent of the fans who came to that game had never been to the stadium before, so we attracted a different type of fanbase to the club.
"The more we do that, the more it might attract them to the men’s game and they might start to sell more tickets. I think it works both ways. We are good for the clubs, and the clubs are good for us, and the more we do that, the more success it will bring.”
Hibs ended the first half of the season with a second successive derby win, beating Hearts 3-1 at Tynecastle, and should have resumed action last weekend against St Johnstone in the cup, but with that match postponed, the Hibees restart their season with the visit of the Hoops. Celtic have won the last two encounters by a single goal and Gibson is eager for his charges to go one better in the second half of the campaign.
"People will probably look at the first half and say it’s very similar to last season; we’re sitting fourth where we’re quite comfortable.
"We’re not really touching the teams above us, but the sides below us aren’t really touching us, either,” he explains.
"What I will say is that, apart from the Glasgow City game, we’ve looked like winning the games against the top teams – Celtic, Rangers. We’re a lot more competitive on the pitch. We’re just into the second round of fixtures now and we are confident that we will take points off those teams this season, moreso than we were least season.
"I think it’s been a positive first half to the year and it’s up to us to go and kick on now and continue it, and we’ll see what happens.”
Hibs are without Eilidh Adams through injury although it is hoped the forward will be back in action in the next couple of weeks, while academy graduate Rosie Livingstone could feature, having been promoted to the senior squad this week.