Stephen Dobbie: I should have done better at Hibs

Stephen Dobbie scored to make it 1-1 in the 2004 League Cup semi-final against Rangers. He is pictured below playing for QoS
Stephen Dobbie scored to make it 1-1 in the 2004 League Cup semi-final against Rangers. He is pictured below playing for QoS
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You don’t need to tell striker Stephen Dobbie he failed to hit the heights when he made the switch to Hibs in the summer of 2003.

Plucked from Rangers after being deemed surplus to requirements at Ibrox by then manager Alex McLeish, the 20-year-old made the move east without any trepidation to team up with Bobby Williamson’s young guns.

However, his time at Easter Road was not as successful as hoped and it was at Palmerston Park where Hibs next pitch up on Saturday that Dobbie finally made his mark as a prolific goalscorer and earned a big move south with Swansea City in 2009.

“I still keep an interest in Scottish football,” the striker who spent two seasons in the Capital before leaving for St Johnstone in 2005, said. “Having the teams I played for as well as Rangers and Hearts in the same league, I always look out for their results and see how they’re getting on.

“It’s of course a big loss for the SPL having the two Edinburgh clubs in the Championship but it’s an exciting league this year for sure.”

Recalling his days when funky, bleached blond hair was a trademark of the Easter Road side as much as the traditional green-and-white kit, Dobbie admits he didn’t make the most of his opportunity in Leith.

“When I signed for Hibs there were a lot of up and coming young players like Garry O’Connor, Derek Riordan, Scott Brown, Kevin Thomson; so we had a great team at the time and maybe I didn’t do as well as I perhaps should have. We had a good [League] cup run and were unlucky in the final against Livingston in 2004 but I enjoyed my time there under Bobby Williamson before leaving for St Johnstone.”

A not so productive spell in Perth ensued before relaunching his career in Dumfries to the extent he is now considered one of the club’s true greats of the modern era.

Now 31, Dobbie said: “Queens was the best time I had in Scotland. I loved my time there and loved playing at Palmerston. I scored a lot of goals and the fans really took to me which always helps. Obviously Swansea came and had a look at me and I had a good run until the end of that season before I got my move.

“But with a new manager still to come in, it does take time to get their own stamp on the team. Jim [McIntyre] was at Queen of the South all last season so he had prepared them for this year and they’ve had a great start. I would sway more to Queens to get the victory over Hibs on a personal note but it should be a good game.”

Now plying his trade on loan at League One outfit Fleetwood Town from Crystal Palace, supporters of the Welsh club will forever be indebted to the striker for scoring in the 4-2 victory over Reading in the 2011 play-off final at Wembley that secured the Swans’ promotion to the English and Welsh top flight for the first time.

“I’ve enjoyed every minute of my time down in England,” he said. “You’re always going to get somewhere to play with having so many clubs. Making the move was the hardest part. But learning from the likes of Brendan Rodgers and Ian Holloway, training every day with them and the players around you, it brings your game on a lot. I’m nearly 32 now though so I don’t know if I am going to get any better!

“I played a few games against Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and at Man City’s ground, but scoring the goal for Swansea in the play-off final to get them promoted to the Premier League was the biggest thing I’ve ever experienced.

“Having 90,000 and my family and friends there was just fantastic. The streets of Swansea were lined with thousands so you just can’t describe how amazing it was, but it’s one of those things you’ll keep in your memory forever and be able to show your kids and grandchildren.

“Fleetwood are an up-and-coming side and it’s round about the Blackpool area where my family lives so it was a good option so I’m happy.

“I’m here now and I hope I’ve still got a few years ahead of me.”