Hibs new boy Scott Robertson today admitted he’s hoping to ride the crest of a wave at Easter Road after seeing his hope of carving out a career in England disappear in the shifting sands of Blackpool.
The former Dundee United player admitted the six months he spent with the Seasiders proved to be the most tumultuous period of his career, as he became bewildered and bemused by events at Bloomfield Road.
Signed by Ian Holloway on a two-year deal, the twice-capped Scotland player was sure he had made the right move in swapping the SPL for the English Championship last July. He looked on in astonishment, however, as his new boss added two further midfielders to his squad in the same week, taking the number chasing a limited number of places in the middle of the park to ten.
While admitting he possibly hadn’t done enough to earn a place in Holloway’s team, the 27-year-old insisted having so many players vying for a shirt was also a major factor, although Holloway assured him his chance would come.
Crystal Palace, however, came calling for Holloway before that opportunity arose and it was the same story under his successor, Michael Appleton, who lasted just two months before being lured away to Lancashire rivals Blackburn Rovers.
Robertson’s torment finally came to an end when caretaker boss Steve Thompson – who had been Holloway’s assistant – recognised his plight and gave him the option to leave, paving the way for the remaining 18 months of his contract to be torn up so allowing him to join Hibs as a free agent until the summer of 2015.
As he looked forward to a possible debut against Ross County in Dingwall tonight, Robertson, who began his career at Dundee, said: “I’d never really been at a club that has been like that before.
“It was a little bit confusing, Ian Holloway signed me but I was probably the seventh midfielder there and then he brought in [former Hibs player] Isaiah Osbourne and Tiago Gomes so there would have been ten of us.
“I never really did enough to earn a chance but probably the fact there were too many players meant the opportunity never came about. I spoke to the manager on several occasions and he just told me to be patient and my chance would come eventually. But his chance came and he left. Then the new manager [Appleton] came in. He said he had never really seen me play or heard much about me but he liked what he had seen in training so he’d be happy to give me a chance.
“But I picked up a wee knock, was out for a couple of weeks and by that time he had a settled team and I never got a look-in. Then he left and Steve Thompson came in charge. He sympathised with my position and understood it. He said if I wanted to leave, it would be okay as he didn’t know what was happening at the club.
“He told me it was up to me if I wanted to stick it out or to get back playing, so when this opportunity arose I thought it was too good to turn down.”
Now, having gone from playing 41 games for United in the season before making the shift down south to making just one appearance for Blackpool – a 3-0 defeat away to Cardiff in September – Robertson admitted he was “excited” at the prospect of kick-starting his career in a green and white shirt, adamant he’s joined a totally different Hibs side to the one he faced last season.
Revealing he had options to remain in England but found the pull of home too strong to resist, he said: “To go from the position I was in at Blackpool to being in contention tonight makes me very excited. I think if I’d stayed down there for the rest of the 18 months of my contract I’m sure people would have forgotten me.
“I didn’t feel I was going to get my chance and I didn’t want to sit about collecting my money and not playing.
“Now I’ve got a two-and-a-half year contract from a manager who has maybe been interested in me in the past and now I’d just like to think I will get some game time and show the Hibs fans what I am capable of.
“Hibs are in a better position in the league than they were when I left so you can only assume the manager has done a decent job in turning the team around as there’s been a lot of other players who have also come in. I was surprised at how Hibs struggled last season, I couldn’t understand why. But the league never lies, you end up where you deserve to be but hopefully it’s going to be a much better finish this season.”
Robertson faced tonight’s opponents four times as a United player, including a Scottish Cup final, and was never on the losing side, while Hibs and Ross County have met on just as many occasions with the Edinburgh side having never won, a fact the new boy admitted he’d dearly love to play a part in changing tonight.
Pointing out he had lost to the Staggies in his time with Dundee, he said: “I’ve played 13 or 14 reserve games this season although they are not of the same intensity, don’t really mean anything and aren’t quite the same as first team matches. But if the manager asks me tonight I will give it my all for however long that is and whether it’s from the start or coming off the bench.
“I’m just looking to get some proper football again.”