So as always happens every year, Winter turns into Spring. And like almost always happens as these seasons change, things start to go horribly wrong down Leith.
We’ve been here before, too many times it seems. Great (or at least decent) first half of the season, then as soon as we get to February/March, thnings start to go pear shaped. Perfect examples of that in recent years was the second half of the season under John Hughes, where after sitting in the top 2 for the majority of the early months, we could then hardly win a game, majorly highlighted in a 6-6 loss to Motherwell (yes I did say loss), and then more recently and more painfully, our second half of season collapse under Terr….no I can’t even bring myself to type his name. We got a great result against Hearts at Easter, road, and then were 2-0 up against Dundee Utd in the next game, then the wheels fell off. That game finished 2-2 and I think we won 1 more game all season.
So why does it happen? is there any rhyme or reason for it? Is there something in the water down Leith, or is it just coincidence. I find it hard to believe that it is purely coincidence thats for sure – it just seems to happen too often. But could I put my finger on what causes it? No, and I doubt there’s anyone that could confidently say why.
Tuesday night was probably the story of our season (and our club in general) wrapped up in 90 minutes. Bright start, playing well, fans thinking we’ve done enough and he can go home with something to smile about then, boom, Hibs remind us who we support.
I actually really enjoyed the game for 86 minutes on Tuesday. I thought Falkirk started the brighter and i was concerned at how the game would go, but that defensive blunder that gave us the lead seemed to change the momentum. I thought we played with pace and confidence. Its like the goal just brought back that Hibs team from last October/November. As usual we probably should’ve been more than 1 ahead, and I thought the officials done absolutely nothing to help the game. The number of baffling decisions from them was unreal, and they allowed Falkirk to stick to their gameplan of trying to kick Hibs off the park. I was completely comfortable, as were the team, but then when we went 2-0 up, the jitters seemed to well and truly kick in. Not seeing the game out from that point is truly dreadful. Falkirk had one tactic, lump the ball into the box, and yet we allowed them to do it, and even helped them by giving them a number of free kicks away in our own half. Surely with the players ability in our team, we should have been able to keep the ball against 10 men and see it out.
We’ve seen in recent times that Falkirk don’t give up in games, evidenced by their 3-2 win against Rangers recently after being 2-0 down, but yet we invited them in. The one thing I will say as a positive, as it was good to see us playing a flat 4-4-2 instead of the diamond formation. It suited us better, and gave us more width. At least Stubbs seemed to adapt FINALLY. I though Fraser Fyvie, Lewis Stevenson and Marvin Bartley in particular played really well. But again, there is no excusing for that 5 minute meltdown.
My drive home was a sore one, compounded by Peter Houstons radio interview where he as usual came across as a bitter jambo. You’d think after he had to apologise earlier in the season for his comments about John McGinn “going down easily” you would think he would zip it, but again he feels the need to say that David Gray got his sock ripped by Tom Taiwo and got him booked. This is the same David Gray that had to go off injured at the start of the second half because of that very challenge. And yet the BBC Sportsound team seemed to lap it up finding “that cheeky scamp” peter Houston, hilarious. No surprise there. Peter Houston was right about one thing tho – after last years semi final loss, he pointed out that the way to get at Hibs was crosses into the box. He pointed it out to everyone. Yet here we are, a year later, still suffering from exactly the same achilles heal. That is very poor. This should have been addressed a long time ago.
So yet again we ask, where do we go from here. Yet again we are going to have to do things the hard way. Finishing 2nd looks pretty unlikely so to get promoted we’re going to have to beat Raith Rovers, Falkirk and a Premiership team all over 2 legs. Can we do it? Yes definitely. Will we? Who knows. 3 rounds is tough for anyone to get through, let alone a team that has hit the run of form we have. Especially when Raith and Falkirk are both in very decent form at the minute, and neither will fear playing us. But we have to be upbeat, and get behind the team, as we always do. Because if we do somehow manage to get through those 6 games, it will feel even better because of whats happened recently.
But before all that we have the small matter of the Scottish Cup. I have read some say that this game doesn’t matter due to our league situation. I can’t agree. I go to the games with my dad and his friends who are mainly in their mid-60’s. Ask these guys what 1 thing they would like to see before they head off to that big Leith San Siro in the sky, and I’m pretty sure they would all say “Hibs to win the Scottish Cup”. So whenever we get to this stage, its always important. We should never be blaze’ about winning this trophy, or any trophy for that matter. My greatest days as a Hibs fan have been cup wins, (both semis and League cup finals). Imagine how that would feel if it was the Scottish Cup that we managed to pick up.
So yes, I’m excited for Saturday. Yet again i get to have an away day with my friends and family, and as it happens, we happen to be playing the one team in Scottish football that is a bigger basketcase than us. Utd seem to be in dissaray at the minute, with the whole strange Gavin Gunning situation, sitting bottom of the Premiership, and facing their captain being out injured for the remainder of the season. We have already beaten them 3-0 this season, but of course that was when we were at our peak. We can still take confidence from that tho, and its worth remembering that in recent times we have a fairly decent Cup semi final record with wins against St Johnstone, Falkirk and Aberdeen since 2012, and just last seasons loss to Falkirk as a negative.
So bring them on. If we go out, then well, we’ve been there before, but win and we can look forward to a 3rd Scottish cup final in 5 seasons, then sit back on Sunday and watch the New Old Firm kick lumps out of each other. And then we can start to dream again for a while….