Why Young Player of the Year Josh Doig is no rush to leave Hibs after joining Scott Brown and Steven Fletcher in list of SFWA award winners
There seems little danger that the achievements and accolades of his first season in top flight football will go to Josh Doig’s head.
Anyone who doubts that hasn’t seen him busying himself with the more menial tasks around East Mains or chapping on the manager’s door when they are all completed, seeking permission to clock off for the day.
They also haven’t watched him blush brightly as he is questioned about the interest from some of the biggest clubs in England and abroad, or witnessed the boyish smile light up his face as he accepts the first in what is likely to be several accolades before the season is consigned to history.
For all his maturity during matches, there remains a heart-warming bashfulness about the overwhelmingly-positive response to those performances. One day he may attempt to hide his joy behind a more blase facade, he may even come to take it all for granted, but one thing is for sure, that day has not yet dawned.
Named the DoubleTree by Hilton Scottish Football Writers’ Young Player of the year, the teenager cannot wipe the grin from his face.
“I’m ecstatic about it,” he says, his words articulating something that the expression on his face had already conveyed quite clearly. What was more surprising was the follow-up line. “It’s the first award I’ve ever won.”
As part of a Hibs squad consistently aiming for better, there will, he hopes be more collective achievements, but, in his breakthrough season, being named the most impressive young Scot in the game will, apparently, take some time to sink in.
“I know all the other players on the list [Doig beat off competition from past winners Lewis Ferguson, of Aberdeen and Celtic’s David Turnbull, as well as fellow full-back Nathan Patterson, of Rangers] and there are a few others who weren’t there too, players I watched last season and before when I wasn’t even in professional football. I was idolising these guys and what they were doing at that age.
“To win the award over them, it’s shocking! Just to be put in the same category as these guys is a massive confidence booster.”
Looking back through the list of prestigious past winners, Doig’s face glows a deep pink as he realises he has been placed on the same pedestal. From Kieran Tierney, who remains a role model, as a left-back but also for the way he manages his continual development in terms of picking the right moves at the right time, to a number of former Hibs players, all of the past winners justified their early billing.
“I looked up the players who have won it, they’re all legends. Going back to Scott Brown and Steven Fletcher, to be put in the same category as them is unbelievable. I’m lost for words.
“I still don’t believe it. But I can’t take anything for granted.”
Having made his first team debut, for Queen’s Park, in League Two just over a year ago, he returned to Hibs post-lockdown and impressed sufficiently to be included in the first team bubble. Even then, few expected him to play as many games or become such an integral part of the starting line-up.
But, with over 30 games now under his belt, he says there is no rush to move on, despite attracting some very tempting suitors.
“It’s crazy because I’ve grown up watching all these clubs and for any of them even to show an interest…
‘Whatever happens happens. But as long as I’m playing football, whether it’s here, at Barcelona, or back at Queen’s Park, that’s what I want. I absolutely adore it here at Hibs.
“You can see with the likes of John McGinn...I know Hibs is a great pathway to go to higher places but it is still a massive club in itself. We could finish third this season!
“I don’t think there’s a better place than Hibs to develop as a player. I know that myself as I have come on so much. Being here is good for me.
“When I reported for pre-season I came with an energy and knew I had to try and be fitter than everyone and look like a mature player on the ball. I reaped the rewards on the first game of the season, and I have never looked back. That first game at Kilmarnock feels like yesterday, things have moved so fast.”
But if he ever feels slightly dizzy through it all, his feet remain planted on the ground as his own sense of self, combined with the good intentions of others, keeps him centred.
‘These awards are amazing but I have to keep performing. If I don’t then I’m not going to get anywhere
“My dad always congratulates me but knows not to do that too much and even if I have had a good game he’ll tell me what I could’ve done better. He’s not afraid to hurt my feelings, put it that way!
“He’ll bring me down a peg. Also big Potts [assistant manager John Potter] and the gaffer [Jack Ross] they are always showing me what I can do better. You can’t get on your high horse.
“I know myself I make so many mistakes. It’s about tidying up on them at a young age so I can get better but you do need to enjoy it too.
Having showcased what he is capable of, there is pressure to keep delivering, next season and beyond.
“There’s always pressure but I can’t think too far ahead. Just keep playing, maybe try and score more goals. My shooting has been woeful! So I need to work on that, work on my crossing. Hopefully I can bring more assists and goals. I also want to get fitter.”
Eyeing up what can be done to improve rather than resting on laurels is exactly why he merits the award.