Harry McKirdy: 'I hope the Hibs fans won't judge me on my debut... it's been a long week'

There are 51 minutes on the clock as the bleach-blond head of Harry McKirdy is bobbing on the Easter Road touchline, ready to make his debut in green and white.
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As the deadline day signing darts onto the pitch in place of the unwell Ewan Henderson there is a swell of noise from the three stands housing Hibs fans.

Here he is; the maverick entertainer whose reputation on and off the park precedes him and who might just make the Easter Road side that little bit more dangerous in front of goal.

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There was one clear-cut chance, a stooped diving header from a Chris Cadden cross that flew just over Sam Walker’s goal and another half-chance that he sclaffed into the side-netting.

But, as stand-in boss Jamie McAllister said, there were flashes of what McKirdy can bring to Hibs.

“When the ball comes off my head, I don’t really know where it’s going. I was praying for it to hit the back of the net but I think it hit someone in the crowd. I’ll try to keep it down next time,” he says afterwards, more softly-spoken than his on-field persona suggests.

"I would like the fans not to really judge me on my first day because it’s been a very long week and, having been suspended the last few weeks, it’s just nice to get back on the pitch.

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“Once I get a full week’s training and get some rest, I’m hoping I can bring energy, goals and assists.”

Harry McKirdy applauds the fans at full timeHarry McKirdy applauds the fans at full time
Harry McKirdy applauds the fans at full time

Quiet confidence from the new arrival, who endured a tumultuous transfer deadline day as his move dragged out, and an anxious Friday as he waited for FIFA to green-light his signing clearing him to play against Kilmarnock. But, he insists, he was never really worried.

“I’m not quite sure what time I got to bed on Thursday, to be honest. It was a long 48 hours, put it that way. I’m happy now that I can focus on football instead of the other side,” he smiles.

“I didn’t really know what was going on, I just hoped it would go through, and it did. So I’m happy to be here, looking forward to that full week of training and settling in. It might have crossed my mind that it could fall through, but I was confident that everyone would agree, because everyone wanted the same thing.

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“Hibs wanted me to come in and Swindon wanted to cash in on me, so I felt it would get done.

McKirdy reacts after his diving header flies narrowly over the barMcKirdy reacts after his diving header flies narrowly over the bar
McKirdy reacts after his diving header flies narrowly over the bar

“It was a long day. It’s hard to take your mind off it. But everything worked out in the end, thankfully.”

Indeed it did, but what was it about Hibs that got the juices flowing?

“Just look at the reception I got. I’ve only been here a couple of days but the city looks good, everyone I spoke to had only good things to say about it. It just feels like the right step forward in my career.

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“The fans have been good with me since it looked like I was signing – and that was the reason I wanted to come here and play. Hopefully I can give them more reasons to cheer than I did in my first game.”

McKirdy’s time as a youth at Aston Villa came in useful as he asked John McGinn for advice on the move while he has reunited with a former Villa Park colleague.

“I played with Jake Doyle-Hayes when we were younger and it’s good to have him here. We had a good run of games, grew up playing with each other.

"Hopefully over time we can get that relationship back together and help the team win games.”

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The Londoner is available next weekend to face Dundee United at Tannadice but he will be forced to sit out the matches against Aberdeen and Ross County on Saturday September 17, and Saturday October 1 as he serves the remaining matches of a suspension incurred during his time at Swindon.

By now everyone knows the story – McKirdy is sent off for two yellow cards while at Swindon, leaves the pitch, goes radge, and ends up in the referees’ dressing room hurling a protein shake at a wall that gets on the match officials’ clothing.

Result? A three-match ban and a £1500 fine on top of the suspension incurred by the red card. But he’s trying to put it to one side, apart from the obvious.

“Look, we all make mistakes. I understand I crossed a line. That’s in the past now. As long as I learn from it. I’m looking to keep my head down and make headlines for the right reasons now,” he says, with quiet determination.

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“That was my first ever red card, so no, I haven’t had disciplinary issues in the past. I don’t really want to say anything about it but, if you watch the red card, I’ll let you make your mind up on it.

“We all make mistakes. Everyone. This is in the past. As long as I learn from it, we’ll have no problems.”

A whirlwind few days for McKirdy but a promising start, given he barely trained with his new team-mates and only got the green light to play less than 24 hours before kick-off

“There was a little bit of uncertainty, but I was always ready. It was nice to get 40 minutes, and I’d trained with the team just a little bit on the Friday,” he adds.

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"I’m going home disappointed from the first game, even though we won, because I felt like I could have done better, and felt like I should have had a goal or two.

“But, I’m getting chances, and I would be more worried if I wasn’t. I will take those chances. It’s just a matter of time.”

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