Jason Cummings has just one bit of advice for goalscoring goalkeeper Mark Oxley – don’t give up the day job.
As delighted as he was to see Oxley become the first Easter Road goalie in 26 years to find the back of the opposition’s net, his clearance having deceived Livingston No.1 Darren Jamieson, teenage hitman Cummings reckons his team-mate’s celebrations fell well below what is expected.
“I’d have had the top off if I’d done that,” insisted the youngster, then, giving the incident a little more thought before adding: “In fact, I’d have had the lot off. It was just unbelievable.
“I go out every time believing I’m going to score, so you always have something planned for when you do. Mark was obviously over the moon – the last thing you are expecting is to see your goalkeeper score from the other end of the park – but he needs to do a bit of work on his celebrations.
“He was looking more as if he was thinking ‘what have I done’. It was ridiculous, absolutely crazy, something I’ve never seen before and probably won’t see again in my career.”
Oxley’s moment of glory came just three minutes after Farid El Alagui had claimed his first goal for the Capital club, but Hibs failed to capitalise further and Alan Stubbs’ players were left hanging on after Declan Gallagher claimed one back for the West Lothian outfit who then passed up a couple of chances to snatch a point.
Nevertheless, it was a big moment for Stubbs’ team, their first win at home since mid-February and that, Cummings claimed, outshone Oxley finding his name up alongside that of Easter Road legend Andy Goram who had similarly left Morton goalkeeper David Wylie red-faced in the final game of the 1987-88 season.
The former Hutchison Vale kid said: “Mark was delighted and the fact it was 26 years since Andy Goram had last done it for Hibs shows just how rarely it happens. But the boys were obviously more happy with the points. That’s what it is all about. It’s a team game. Individuals score goals of course, but the most important thing at the end of the day is the team winning.
“We did have further chances to possibly kill the game off before half-time, but it’s still very much a matter of the team knitting together. It takes more than a game or two for everything to click, but I think you’ll see a greater chemistry between the boys with every match that passes.
“It’s a new team, new players have arrived and while it’s not quite 100 per cent yet, I think in the games against Rangers and Livingston we saw that it’s coming.
“We knew it was vital to get our season up-and-running, that’s what we were saying to each other before the game. It doesn’t matter how you get the three points, do that and everyone, players and fans alike, can enjoy their weekend.”
Such occasions were few and far between last season, Hibs’ chaotic end to the campaign leaving fans raging, their anger both during and at the end of numerous games plain for all to hear. But despite a nervy ending against John McGlynn’s side, Cummings insisted he and his team-mates had not sensed the crowd turning against them in the slightest.
He said: “The fans were good to us last season, but we didn’t give them much to cheer about. But right from kick-off on Saturday you could feel everyone was up for it, buzzing. The two quick goals had the place rocking and even when they scored you could still hear the supporters giving us their full backing which as a player is great to have.”
As much as he might ridicule Oxley’s unrehearsed step into the world of goal celebrations, Cummings admitted there was no arguing with the fact that the goalkeeper will, at least until Sunday’s derby against Hearts at Tynecastle, remain Hibs’ joint top scorer alongside El Alagui and Danny Handling.
It is, however, something he intends to address as he battles for full fitness having suffered a hamstring injury in only the second pre-season game against Berwick Rangers, the 21 minutes he played after replacing Paul Heffernan at the weekend being his first action since.
He said: “I’m getting up to speed. The wee tear I suffered put me two-and-a-half weeks behind the rest of the boys and, I have to admit, I felt a bit sluggish so I need to get back up to a level and hope to get more time on the pitch. But it’s going to be hard with Farid, Paul, Danny and Lewis Allan all fighting for the places up front.”
Cummings caught the eye in his first season with Hibs, scoring freely for the club’s Under-20 side, a fact which didn’t go unnoticed elsewhere with Swansea City, as the Evening News revealed, twice making bids to take him south to join their earlier captures from Scotland Adam King, Jay Fulton and Stephen Kingsley at the Liberty Stadium.
But today Cummings, pictured right, said he was more than happy to stay at Easter Road, Hibs having picked him up when he was working as a gardener after being released by Capital rivals Hearts, his reward for an outstanding season being a new three-year deal.
He said: “On a personal level I couldn’t have dreamt of last season going any better. I’d come in hoping to make a name for myself in the Under-20s and ended up a regular in the first team.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being at Hibs, I want to kick on and I see being with Hibs as the place to do that. I was aware of all the talk of Swansea, but I’m still a young lad and to be honest I don’t think I’m ready to move away from Edinburgh.
“It’s all about learning at this stage of my career. James McDonaugh [Hibs’ head of academy coaching, who has just left to become first-team coach at Falkirk] was different class when I was in the Under-20s, as were the coaching staff, the physios and everyone else.
“Now we have a head coach in Alan Stubbs who was one of the top youth coaches in England while he was at Everton so I am sure there’s lots more I can learn from him and his assistants Andy Holden and John Doolan.”