Hibs veteran delivers Old Firm warning to missile throwing fans

David Marshall at training yesterdayDavid Marshall at training yesterday
David Marshall at training yesterday | SNS Group
Former Scotland goalie making no decision on immediate future

David Marshall has warned fans not to put the special Edinburgh derby atmosphere at risk – by forcing clubs to restrict away supporters for the biggest game on the fixture card. The former Scotland goalie spoke out after being caught in the firing line, literally, during Wednesday night’s 1-1 draw at Tynecastle.

In a match that also saw Hibs playmaker Emi Marcondes hit with missiles while taking a corner, Marshall saw a rain of objects – including a metal corkscrew bottle opener – fly over his head as some in the away support targeted Lawrence Shankland during the delay before the Hearts striker equalised from the penalty spot. The ex-Celtic keeper believes the risk of injury could force capital clubs to follow the Old Firm lead by cutting visitor numbers or even banning away punters.

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Marshall said: “Both clubs don’t condone what went on. Some of the stuff thrown on could cause serious injury.

“It soured the fact that it was such a good atmosphere. The players love playing in it. The Edinburgh derby is huge and, with the attendance from both sets of fans that the Old Firm doesn’t get, it generates such an atmosphere. It’s hostile and good.

“But there’s a line that was crossed on Wednesday. It’s difficult to manage. It’s not Hearts’ fault or the stewards’ fault that people are chucking things on.

“Luckily there were no injuries. Hopefully we can put an end to stuff like that because the last thing we want is to see fan attendances and that atmosphere affected in any way.”

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On the pitch, Hibs dominated their city rivals and created enough chances to win the game. Regardless of the final result, the performance felt like another step in the right direction.

Marshall remains cautious, saying: “I’m not so sure it was a statement. But we are in a better place with the lads we brought in in January. Bringing them in for the training camp would have been ideal but coming in a bit later and managing to get them minutes was important.

“I wasn’t surprised with the performance at Tynecastle. It’s building up the fitness and it’s probably the strongest the squad has looked in a while. But it was pleasing to go into a big game and perform like that.

“We knew we needed to pick up a minimum four points between Aberdeen and Dundee. We did that. And it’s probably a similar week coming up.

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“We played well in the game against Hearts. That was a big plus for us and over the balance of play I think everyone agrees we should have won the game with the chances we created. It’s positive to go into a derby and perform so well.”

Out of contract in the summer, Marshall said he won’t be making any decision on his future until the season is over, explaining: “The club has to get the recruitment side right. There’s a big window coming up with the manager’s first summer window.

“I’ve a good relationship with him and the staff. It’s important we focus on the next few games, take stock in the summer and see where it goes. You never know.”

However long Marshall has left between the sticks for Hibs, the undisputed No. 1 is clear on what he’d like to achieve before finally bowing out, saying: “Well, being at this club the cups are huge. We’re surrounded by pictures here of David Gray scoring the winning goal in the Scottish Cup final in 2016.

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“And anyone that joins Hibs knows it’s a big thing. We obviously have a really tough draw in the next round, Rangers at home. But winning a cup is something that every player here aims to do.

“I think a club as a whole, moving forward we need to be challenging for third place and doing so consistently. We’re all close, Hearts and Aberdeen are the exact same, that should be the long-term aim for this club. It’s obviously going to be a stretch for us this season but going well in the cup and finishing in the European spots has to be the aim.”

Billionaire Bill Foley buying into Hibs is intended to give Hibs an edge in the race for Europe, with the American intending to make the latest addition to his footballing stable the undisputed third force in Scottish football. If last week’s AGM vote hasn’t exactly been the talk of the first team dressing room at East Mains, the players are aware of a potential step change in the profile of the club.

“I don’t know if it will affect the budget playing wise or be more for the training facilities,” said Marshall. “But to get that investment is big, I’m sure it will improve the place - and if it adds to the playing staff and allows the manager to add quality players that will be needed because I am sure there will be a lot of changes in the summer. We’re not too far away from competing for that third spot. I’m sure the investment is welcome, and it can only be good for the club.”

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