Posts Tagged ‘ Jackie McNamara ’

Dundee Utd Prove Too Strong For Hibs

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Once again some questionable refereeing decisions sparked fury amongst the Hibs’ fans, but few would argue that Dundee United fully deserved the three points at Easter Road tonight.

Earlier in the day, the club announced their season ticket package for the next campaign however the performance against Jackie McNamara’s side is unlikely to persuade any undecided to part with their money. Continue reading

Hibs Legend Lawrie Reilly Dies Aged 84

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The last remaining member of the Hibs forward line of the early 1950’s known as the Famous Five has died in hospital aged 84.

Lawrie Reilly signed for Hibs in 1944 and made his first team debut in a 4-3 away victory against Kilmarnock in October 1945 at inside right to Gordon Smith. Continue reading

Murray would endure the pain of relegation for cup win

It’s the question that has been asked and answered a thousand times in the pubs around Easter Road since Hibs eased past Ayr United to secure a semi-final place against Aberdeen at Hampden. Would you accept relegation, if it guaranteed a win in the Scottish Cup final?

Opinions are divided with some adamant that SPL survival must be the club’s number one priority, whilst the more romantic of the faithful argue that a season in division one would be a small price to pay to get the 110 year albatross off their necks.

The directors who worry about the financial implications are amongst the former, but one player is in the other camp. Club captain Ian Murray has no doubts and would happily swap relegation for cup glory on May 19, to erase the pain of their century old hoodoo. The midfielder whose season has been blighted by injury is desperate to see his beloved Hibs reach their first final since 2001 when a Henrik Larsson inspired Celtic led by Martin O’Neill beat Alex McLeish’s Hibs side 3-0. Murray played in that game as a teenager and should he feature in this year’s final, he will emulate the feat of legendary winger Arthur Duncan who played in two finals in the seventies.

The former Rangers and Norwich player said: “Our SPL form is poor but I’d say every fan and most of the players would take relegation if it meant we would win the Scottish Cup. “From a financial point of view for the club, the directors would pull their hair out if that happened, but as a romantic thing for the fans, they would take the Cup. If we could get both it would be fantastic”

“Second bottom of the SPL is not great at all but we’d all take that with a Cup Final appearance. “It has been that long and there have been so many great Hibs teams which haven’t won it and to get to a semi or final is a special achievement. The fans talk about it more than players but I don’t buy into hoodoos.”

Murray was just a teenager when he received the shock nod from gaffer Alex McLeish for the big day. “I don’t remember much talk about the hoodoo going into the 2001 final because we had such a good team. We were just unfortunate to come up against an exceptional Celtic side. I firmly believe had we kept that team in place, we could have had a chance of winning the title. But in the final Russell Latapy had his problems beforehand and didn’t play, while Franck Sauzee did play but wasn’t fully fit. We did really well for the first 30 minutes and Marc Libra had a chance in an even start. But things worked against us, such as Lubo Moravcik going off injured and Jackie McNamara coming on to score.”

“Celtic won well in the end but I feel that if we had faced anyone else that season, we would have won it. The hype around the game was fantastic, though, and it was great to be there.

“It was my first taste of a cup final at Hampden and it was so special for me, so to get back there would be fantastic. Stuart Lovell had missed eight games and I had been playing instead of him.

“It was the Wednesday beforehand and the gaffer pulled me in. I thought it was for the inevitable, ‘We’re going with experience line.’ I was expecting the bombshell and was ready to take it on the chin and be happy at just being around the squad.

“But then he said he’d play me wide right and Stuart was the one who was unhappy with the manager. It was a huge occasion, especially as I didn’t expect to play. I didn’t even tell my mum and dad I was playing as news might have got out. It was a great occasion and although we lost, it is a great memory.

“You hear people talking about losing these games and throwing away their medals but I don’t buy into that. Getting all the way to a final is a great achievement and something you should savour. Let’s face it, if I get back this season it’ll be my first since 2001 so they don’t come around too often.”

The versatile midfielder, who is in his testimonial year at Easter Road, is not underestimating the task of beating Craig Brown’s Aberdeen, and he is desperate to be in the squad after recovering from a long term groin injury. Last week, he came through sixty minutes in a bounce game against St Mirren at the East Mains training centre.

“I’ve not played in many semi-finals in the Scottish Cup. In 2000 I was on the bench when Aberdeen beat us 2-1. I played against Livingston when we reached the final in 2001 but I was suspended when Dundee United beat us 2-1 in 2005”.

“I know the feeling of being left out but if I am lucky I’ll get on the bench and at least have a wee chance of playing.

“I imagine I’ll be part of the squad. Perhaps the fact I can play a few positions might work in my favour but it’ll depend on how I train. If that goes well, you never know.”

Murray also knows that victory could set up an all-Edinburgh final if Hearts can beat champions Celtic on Sunday, and despite the dreadful record in recent derbies, he believes that winning the cup against Hearts would be the ultimate dream for him and the long suffering fans.

Murray said: “I expect Celtic to win the other semi but we would rather play Hearts as they are sixth in the table. Hearts have had the upper hand against us recently and we know that losing to our main rivals would be heart-breaking.”

“But beating them would make it extra special; you could lose the next 20 derbies and it would still be brilliant!”

If Murray does become only the second Hibs player to feature in two cup finals, he will no doubt hope for a different ending. The luckless Duncan scored the winning goal in the 1979 final, but unfortunately it was at the wrong end, and his diving header gave Rangers an undeserved 3-2 victory in the second replay at Hampden.

Relegation battle looks like two horse race

Even the most confident Hibs fans have to concede that Saturday’s results make it more and more likely that the relegation battle is now a two horse race between Hibs and Dunfermline.

With two games to go before the split, Hibs face a daunting trip to Inverness before taking on European hopefuls Motherwell at Easter Road, while the Pars face in-form Dundee United at Tannadice then Hearts at East End Park.

Pat Fenlon’s men are currently three points ahead with a superior goal difference. The teams will meet again after the split, and although the fixtures have yet to be announced the game is likely to be played at Easter Road as the clubs have met twice in Fife and once in Leith.

This may not be such good news for Hibs given that they have only won once at home this season whilst Dunfermline have yet to record a victory on their own turf.

In the first meeting, Dunfermline came back from a two goal deficit to gain a draw, whilst the game at Easter Road finished in a single goal victory for the Pars, which resulted in calls for the board to quit and led to the sacking of Colin Calderwood. When Pat Fenlon took his side to East End Park in January, a late Leigh Griffiths goal saw the three points heading back over the River Forth, and most Hibs fans thought that the threat of relegation had gone.

Since then, Dunfermline have sacked manager Jim McIntyre and replaced him with veteran Jim Jefferies, a move that worries Hibs legend Jackie McNamara (snr).

McNamara, who spent nine years at Hibs as a player after arriving in a controversial swap deal with Celtic for Pat Stanton, and then served as assistant manager under Jim Duffy, is a season ticket holder at Easter Road and never misses a home game.

He told the Daily Record: “I don’t hold out a lot of hope. We’ve won just one of our last 21 league games at home, how scary is that?

“Wins over Cowdenbeath, Ayr United and Kilmarnock have taken us to the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup but that has just papered over the cracks and given the fans false hope.

“I was at the Dundee United match on Saturday and this is a team that is totally lacking in confidence. It has been drained out of them. They need to do something quickly if they’re to avoid going down and I don’t know if they’re capable of that.

“Every point is a prisoner and I don’t see any battlers out there. We need someone like John Hughes, who would roll his sleeves up, get stuck in and lead by example.

“Meanwhile, Jim Jefferies will have his players fighting and fired up for every one of the seven remaining games.”

If Hibs do go down to the first division, McNamara insists the blame can be laid at the door of chairman Rod Petrie and his policy of changing managers.

“The one consolation is that we aren’t in as bad a fix as Rangers but that won’t help us if we go down. This is all a result of Petrie’s hiring and firing.

“He appoints a manager, lets him bring in players who aren’t good enough then sacks him and the whole process begins again.

“Not only do we have a squad which isn’t good enough but there’s also no chance for them to gel or play with cohesion.

“There are some good young players being left out at the moment and I only hope that’s being done to protect them.

“We travel to Inverness on Sunday and I fear the worst. Terry Butcher’s team know how to battle but there aren’t any signs that we can.”

Hibs full-back Pa Kujabi however is confident that the team have to skill and attitude to keep them in the SPL.

The Gambian international said: “It was hard for everyone in the team to lose again. We do have character and we want to get out of this situation but sometimes it’s difficult when you go on the pitch.

“I’ve been in this situation once before; when I was with Grazer AK in Austria. But we were only fighting relegation because we had been deducted 10 points after going into administration.

“Some players became lazy as a result but that’s not the case here. At Hibs, we are willing to do more. The guys train hard and give it their best, I don’t know why there’s a problem on the pitch.

“Everyone is frustrated and I’m sure the players and manager will talk. No one wants to be in this position, we want to be somewhere in the middle of the table.

“I’m positive. I believe we can stay in this league but we should not look down all the time. Let’s look up, and prepare to fight week in and week out.”

After Saturday’s battling comeback against St Mirren, Jefferies praised the attitude of his squad. He said: “The players have 100% commitment, desire and will to do it, but there has to be a bit more quality and bit more savvy in some of the things we do.

“We’re a point better off and there’s a lot of games still to play. With two games until the split, we need to hang in there and do what we can. Hopefully, we’ll do it.”

At least there is some good news coming from the Hibs camp, with influential skipper James McPake confident that he will be fit to start on Sunday. The game is being shown live on ESPN with a 3pm kick off.