‘You represent Hibs’ – Paul Heckingbottom urges fans to behave at Rangers match
Boss Paul Heckingbottom called on Hibs fans to be on their best behaviour ahead of the Ladbrokes Premiership clash with Rangers at Easter Road on Friday night.
The fall-out from the home 2-0 William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final defeat to Celtic on Saturday centred on the bottle thrown on to the pitch as Hoops winger Scott Sinclair prepared to take a corner.
Hibs chief executive Leeann Dempster admitted later that the stadium’s CCTV was unable to pinpoint the culprit.
Heckingbottom has only been boss of the Leith club less than a month but he is keen to see an end to the missile-throwing incidents, among other problems, which have troubled the Scottish game this season.
Asked for a message to the Hibs supporters, the former Barnsley and Leeds United manager said: “Yes, just behave. No one wants to see it.
“People can get carried away, I understand that, people may have been out for a few drinks before.
“I understand that but there is still a way that you have to behave at a football match.
“Just like I speak to our players about representing the club, our fans represent our club as well.
“We want to be the best football team on the pitch, as good as we possibly can be, and we want to be the best supported team off the pitch, as good as we possibly can be as well.
“Everybody should be doing all they can to stop it.
“The safety is players is paramount. Their sole focus is to do their job and perform as well as you possibly can.
“Not worry every time you go to take a throw-in or a set-piece.
“We want to get a grip of it. While we can appeal to people to behave themselves and be responsible we also need to get better ways to identify people and enforce penalties and bans.
“You want the best possible product on the pitch and off the pitch.
“You want as many people as you can attending, grow the sport in your country, make it appealing to fans and TV fans and part of that is behaviour.”
Heckingbottom, who won his first three games as boss before the defeat to the league leaders, is not expecting too many surprises from second-top Rangers, who are unbeaten in 10 games in all competitions.
He said: “They have hit a lot of form, scoring a lot of goals.
“I can’t imagine Steven (Gerrard) changing too much but he has got the capabilities to do that if he wants with the squad he has got and the players he has got competing for each position.
“But I don’t think there will be too much different in the set-up and how he approaches the game and I wouldn’t have thought too much difference in personnel.”