Posts Tagged ‘ Scottish Cup ’

Hibs in Quarter Final Thanks to Deegan Wonder Goal

deegan A second half wonder goal from Gary Deegan gave Hibs a 1-0 victory over Aberdeen at Easter Road today, but once again, Pat Fenlon’s men had keeper Ben Williams to thank for reaching the William Hill’s Scottish Cup quarter final. Continue reading

McPake: Working Hard To Bring Club Back To The Top

james-mcpake-image-1-290356226The season so far has been a massive improvement from last season both in terms of results and performances which everyone can see are night and day from last season. Last season was a huge disappointment for the football club, escaping relegation with a game to go isn’t good enough or a club like ours. So the main thing this season was improving on that, we didn’t start great at Dundee United but that’s still the only game that we have been battered, and that was without maybe four or five of the players who have came in and have done so well.

In terms of highlights the ones people will look at are the wins against Hearts and Celtic which were great for the club but for me the highlights have been the way we’ve bounced back from defeats and a series of bad runs that have crept in. Last season if that happened then we struggled and never looked like turning the corner after a bad run of results.

At the start of season the aim was to finish top 6 but in my opinion if we finish 5th or 6th then we as players and as a club are underachieving, top 6 should be a given for a club like Hibernian. So far we are achieving what people said was our aim but we want to push on and finish as high as second. Second is a realistic target in my opinion but it’s going to take a lot of hard work from now until the end of the season. I say second because I believe Celtic will comfortably win the league with the quality and the size of squad they have. That’s not lack of ambition from me I just think its common sense! We also have the Scottish cup to come and a tough test against a good Aberdeen side but we’re at home so we’re confident going into that and we’re all desperate to get back to Hampden after last year.

Last week’s announcement from the club that Leigh Griffiths and Ryan McGivern are going to be with us until the end of the season has given everyone a massive boost. Both players have been excellent so far this season and we were all desperate for the club to keep them. We’re also hoping a deal can be done that allows Jorge Claros to stay.

All in all it’s been a good turnaround and we feel we are starting to win the fans back after the disappointing couple of seasons they’ve had. However we realise there is still a lot of work and improvement that can be done and we are working hard to improve more and push on further and finish as high as we can in order to make the fans proud of the Hibernian team again.

Fenlon Proving His Worth

pfIt was little over a year ago when an Irishman was courted by a Scotland’s most underachieving football club. His mission, to save the club from relegation, his ambition, to restore the club to the lofty heights of yesteryear.

A lot has occurred since Hibernian plucked Bohemians supremo Pat Fenlon from the League of Ireland in November 2011. Fenlon, chief among the greatest League of Ireland managers of all time, was viewed by Hibs chairman Rod Petrie as the man to save his club from the trapdoor. It wouldn’t necessarily be an easy task as despite Hibs’ stature the harsh reality is that they were not too good to go down. Endless infighting, uninterested players and a tendency to change managers had all impacted on the legacy of the famed Edinburgh club.

Yet few could have foreseen Fenlon’s impact. Here was a League of Ireland veteran who was untested on foreign soil, with little hope and expectation, would he be the man to save the Hibees from the graveyard of Scottish football and re-establish a club in crisis?

Fenlon galvanised the floundering squad he inherited and with some loan signings in the January transfer window he formed a squad which would eventually avoid the drop and reach an il faithed Scottish Cup Final in the process.

One year on and much has changed around Easter Road. Fenlon has rid of the dead wood and troublesome figures from his squad and replaced them with combative steel, something which was missing while both John Hughes and Colin Calderwood stood atop the Easter Road helm. Ten new players have added a new dimension to Hibs, who possess the capabilities to challenge Celtic for the title this season but inconsistency has hampered such progress.

Hibs currently sit fourth with half the season remaining, sitting two points behind second place Inverness and eleven behind runaway leaders Celtic. Had Scottish football not been in such financial turmoil and had Fenlon been granted an extra million or so the outlook may well be different.

January will be a make or break month for Hibs, coming off the back of last night’s scoreless draw with fierce rivals Hearts. The club must do their utmost to retain the services of loanees Leigh Griffiths, Jorge Claros and Ryan McGivern or risk their season descending into obscurity. Given the ovation received by SPL top scorer Griffiths following last night’s game, the Hibs faithful will be extremely nervy as they enter the winter break.

Highs

Reaching Scottish Cup Final

Few would have predicted a relegation threatened Hibs side to be lining out at Hampden Park in May but that they did, thanks to the reinvigorating force that Pat Fenlon proved to be.

Beating Celtic 1-0

Last Saturday represented a definitive moment in Fenlon’s career as a solitary Griffiths goal and an inspiring defensive display saw his charges trump Scotland’s Champions League heroes at Easter Road.

Beating Hearts 1-0

A David Wotherspoon deflected shot was enough for Hibs to overcome their city rivals for the first time since May 2009 and earn a spot in the fifth round of this year’s Scottish Cup.

Avoiding the drop

A momentous victory over Dunfermline towards the end of Fenlon’s first season in charge was the catalyst for the Hibees finishing eight points ahead of their opponents, who were relegated despite the turmoil surrounding Rangers.

Lows

Losing the Scottish Cup Final

Hope and expectation were the order of the day as Fenlon sought to bring the coveted trophy back to Leith for the first time since 1902, a feat that instills fear and misery upon every Hibs fan to date. Few could have predicted the final to play out as it did as Edinburgh rivals Hearts trumped Hibs 5-1 and Fenlon was sent to the stands.

Underdogs have their day

SPL newcomers Dundee (3-1) and Ross County (1-0) both registered victories over Hibs in the first part of the 2012/13 season.

 

Hibs Chairman Rod Petrie’s Address To AGM

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Hibs Chairman Rod Petrie last night addressed the shareholders at the club’s AGM and once again urged lapsed supporters to return to Easter Road in their numbers or see a reduction on costs. Petrie also highlighted the reduced income from TV following the loss of Rangers from the SPL, and praised the work of the Hibernian Foundation and the supporters group ‘Let’s Work Together.’

He also apologised for the two seasons of under achievement and conceded that the appointment of Colin Calderwood was not a good one. Finally he advised those present about the two recent suggestions for league reconstruction currently being discussed by the SPL and SFL.

His full statement is printed below.

We have approved the Financial Statements for last year – only our second loss in eight years. We are keen to avoid a hat-trick and need your help to grow revenues while we continue to maintain a tight control on costs.

The poor performances on the pitch in the early part of last Season resulted in lower attendances and lower levels of income. This followed a difficult summer in which Colin Calderwood was linked with two jobs in England. When neither of the moves happened, Colin failed to convince supporters of his long term ambitions for Hibernian Football Club and Season Tickets suffered.

After a credible draw at Celtic Park at the end of October, Colin Calderwood left the Club following an ignominious defeat at home to Dunfermline Athletic in front of 9,531 supporters.

The way things worked out, the appointment of Colin Calderwood was not a good one. Mistakes were made. As Chairman, I take responsibility for that. I am sorry that we have all had to endure two seasons of under-achievement and decline.

After a thorough recruitment process, Pat Fenlon was appointed the Manager on 25 November 2011. He faced a tough task to turn around the Club’s playing fortunes. Pat completed the Club’s home SPL programme on 7 May 2012 with a return match against Dunfermline Athletic, this time in front of 15,281 supporters. The team won 4-0 to secure the Club’s status in the top flight of Scottish football – which should never have been put in doubt.

That progress and the Club’s re-engagement with supporters suffered a severe blow with defeat in the William Hill Scottish Cup final on 19 May. The Club apologised to supporters for the manner of that defeat in the aftermath of the game.

Some people had mixed emotions when the fourth round draw for this Season’s Scottish Cup paired last Season’s finalists. Pat Fenlon and the team were delighted to have the opportunity, so quickly to atone in small measure for the events of last May. We look forward to the fifth round tie against either Aberdeen or Motherwell.

The deep disappointment of May was compounded by major uncertainty over the summer months regarding the finances of the SPL following the insolvency of Rangers. New TV contracts were eventually negotiated with Sky and ESPN and approved by the SPL clubs on 3 August, the day before the start of the Season. The worst fears of financial meltdown were avoided.

Rumours of the financial position of Rangers had been circulating for some months but it was still a jolt to Scottish and European football when Rangers finally went into administration on 14 February. It took four months of twists and turns, deals and no deals, before the Rangers’ CVA was voted down by HMRC on 14 June.

Having run out of money, the Administrators immediately sold the assets to the consortium led by Charles Green, which had the effect of putting Rangers outside football. By selling Ibrox Stadium and splitting it from the club’s membership of the SFA and the SPL, Rangers had lost its ability to play football in Scotland or, indeed, anywhere in the world.

It took four months to put Rangers outside football. It took Scottish football just six weeks to find a place for the Rangers’ Newco.

Your Club did what it thought was right at every step of the process. The rest, they say is history.

Our performances on the pitch this Season have improved dramatically following the major overhaul of the playing squad undertaken by the Manager in the close season. However, it looks as if it will take sustained performances on the pitch over an extended run of games to have a meaningful impact on home attendances and so on Club revenues.

The number of home supporters attending Easter Road Stadium has grown slowly, game by game since the start of the Season – 9,024 Hibernian supporters attended the first home game of the Season whereas there were 10,136 Hibernian supporters in Easter Road Stadium at the last home SPL league match against Aberdeen.

And some 13,000 Hibernian supporters were here for the fourth round tie in the William Hill Scottish Cup.

It would be nice to think that those 13,000 supporters will return here at 3pm on Saturday for our SPL clash against Motherwell – or that we might achieve a modern day record attendance at 3pm on Saturday 29 December. The Celtic game has not been moved for TV. The only way you can see the match against the league leaders is by being here in the Stadium.

Growing the attendances by Hibernian supporters is our core strategy. We are asking supporters to do what you do best – support the team at home matches. If we cannot do that, and if we cannot grow our income, then the only route to get back to break even will be to make substantial reductions in costs. The Club is asking shareholders, supporters and everyone connected with the Club to play your part in getting back to where we all want it to be.

The Club has approximately 8,000 Season Ticket holders which is up on the number for last season despite the severe economic conditions facing every household. The Club is grateful to those supporters who rallied to the call in the summer to find additional Season Ticket Holders. In the main, it was existing Season Ticket Holders who bought the additional tickets or who bought Kicks for Kids tickets to help those less fortunate than themselves get access to Easter Road Stadium.

We know that there are still a significant number of individuals and families who had Season Tickets in 2010 and 2011 but who are not Season Ticket Holders today. Hopefully the Half Season Ticket offering will add to the number of Season Ticket Holders in the second half of the Season.

Members of the Lets Work Together group made telephone calls to lapsed Season Ticket Holders as part of the drive for renewals in the summer and their calls were appreciated by all who received them. The “Let’s Work Together Group” is a supporter led initiative formed over the summer and drawn from right across the Hibernian Family. Members of the Lets Work Together Group meet with staff on a regular basis to discuss ways in which the Club can improve. They have come forward with a range of good ideas to foster greater collaboration between Club and supporters. This is a small beginning which we hope will develop over the coming weeks and months for the benefit of the Club.

The Hibernian Community Foundation continues to make a difference in our communities:

· 468 learners have attended the Hibernian Learning Centre in the last two years

· 88 Football Fans In Training have lost almost 6 metres round their waists and 216 Kg in weight

· 67% of all participants in Fit For Work have gone on to employment or further education

· Over 45 players with learning disabilities have been coached by our U20 Academy players

·  And numerous young people have participated in a number of community coaching initiatives

The landscape of Scottish football is changing. The SPL spent two years developing a strategy for all of Scottish football. At the end of the day, the SPL could not win over 11 of its 12 clubs let alone the clubs which are members of other leagues. However, discussions are now being pursued in earnest between the SPL and the SFL under the auspices of the Scottish FA. There are two options which have been put forward in recent weeks:

· The SFL has suggested that the SPL and the SFL could be merged into one league for all 42 clubs organised into a top division of 16 clubs; a middle division of 10 clubs; and a bottom division of 16 clubs. That has merit, but on its own does not deal with the top clubs suffering a 20% drop in the number of games going from 38 league games per season in the current set up to 30 games per season in a 16 team league.

· The SPL has suggested that the 42 clubs could be organised into a top tier of 24 clubs with the remaining 18 clubs (currently SFL Division 2 and 3 clubs) organised in a manner that they think is best for them – either on their own or with clubs drawn from the Highland League; the East of Scotland League; and the South of Scotland league.

· The top 24 clubs would be organised into two groups of 12 clubs for the first half of the Season. They would play each other home and away, giving each club 22 fixtures in this first phase of the League which would run through to the New Year fixtures.

· Then, following a Winter Break, the second phase would consist of three groups of 8 clubs. This gives a further 14 fixtures per club and a total of 36 matches for the Season.

· Having a Top 8 continues the theme of ‘best v best’ with the top clubs playing for the Championship and for European places.

· The Middle 8 – possibly known as the ‘Play Off 8″ – would comprise the bottom 4 clubs from the top 12 and the top 4 clubs from the bottom 12. These 8 clubs would start on zero points and over 14 matches and would play for promotion and relegation. This means that up to four clubs could be relegated and up to four clubs could be promoted in each Season.

· The Bottom 8 clubs would play to avoid relegation and play offs which could lead to relegation from the tier containing the top 24 clubs in Scotland.

Both plans call for a change in the financial distribution model to reduce the huge financial difference which exists at present between the bottom of the SPL and the top of the SFL. A softer financial landing takes away the threat to the very survival of a club through relegation.

Neither plan is being advanced as a mechanism to provide for the accelerated promotion of Rangers.

There have been constructive discussions of late and more discussions are planned for the weeks ahead. Your Club will continue to play its part in these discussions at the top table of Scottish football.

Ladies and gentlemen, in conclusion, there have been significant changes at your Club – not just on the pitch but also behind the scenes and in the senior management of the Club. I should like to thank every member of staff for their hard work and dedication to the Club. Some of it is supporter facing but most of it is behind the scenes. They are the unsung heroes who help make your Club what it is today.

I would also like to thank Pat Fenlon for accepting the post of Manager at a particularly challenging time and for attacking the task of rebuilding the squad with conviction. Pat himself will tell you that it is still work in progress as we approach the January Transfer Window.

Today, we find ourselves near the top end of the most competitive league in recent years. We are 1 point away from second place; but there are just 5 points covering the six teams vying for a top six position alongside Celtic. With 27 points from 17 games; we are just 6 points short of our total points haul for the whole of last Season.

The stewardship of your Club is in the hands of the Board of Directors. The future of your Club is in the hands of the supporters who help in a real and tangible way by attending matches either on a seasonal basis or as walk up supporters. Our plea is a simple one – if you can, please attend matches at Easter Road Stadium to support your team!

Everyone wants Hibernian to be all that it can be, with success on the pitch, influence off it and making a difference in our communities.

Meanwhile, the Under 20 game against Celtic at Easter Road today has been postponed. This is bad news for Pat Fenlon and Gary Deegan who was expected to gain some much needed match practice following his recent injury.

Hibs Face Aberdeen Or Motherwell In Scottish Cup 5th Round

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Hibs will have to overcome another SPL side if they want to progress in the William Hill Scottish Cup after being drawn to play either Aberdeen or Motherwell who will replay at Fir Park next week in the 5th round.

Pat Fenlon’s men knocked holders Hearts out before a packed Easter Road yesterday, and their long suffering supporters are desperate to see the club win the Scottish Cup for the first time since 1902.

The tie will be played at Easter Road on the weekend of 2 February and there is sure to be another large crowd in attendance. Hopefully Fenlon will be able to retain the services of loan stars, Leigh Griffiths, Jorge Claros and Ryan McGivern who was immense in the centre of the defence against Hearts, replacing the injured James McPake, and possibly add to his squad during the January transfer window.

The full draw is as follows:

Raith Rovers v Celtic or Arbroath

St Mirren v Cowdenbeath or St Johnstone

Dunfermline v Dumbarton or Hamilton

Hibs v Aberdeen or Motherwell

Falkirk v Forfar Athletic

Dundee United v Rangers

Dundee v Turriff United or Morton

Kilmarnock v Ross County or Inverness Caledonian Thistle

Ties to take place on weekend of 2nd February

Hibs End Derby Hoodoo With Famous Victory

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A giant weight has been lifted off the shoulders of all Hibs fans after David Wotherspoon’s goal ended the run of 12 games without a win over neighbours Hearts and more importantly earned a place in the Scottish Cup 5th round.

A packed Easter Road was bouncing at the final whistle as the players and supporters celebrated the famous victory, and this time it was the Hibs fans who were singing ‘There’s only one Pat Fenlon.’

Pat Fenlon named an unchanged side for the fifth match in-a-row as once again, the influential trio James McPake, Gary Deegan and Tim Clancy were missing through injury.

Both teams entered the field to the Proclaimers ‘Sunshine on Leith’ but it was Hearts who started the brighter and they were unlucky not to take the lead in the first minute, when an Arvydas Novikovas cross to the back post was headed towards goals by Callum Paterson only for Ben Williams to make a point-blank save.

On 4 minutes, Hearts youngster Kevin McHattie was booked for cynically bringing down David Wotherspoon, but Leigh Griffiths’ free kick was easily cleared.

Eight minutes later, a Marius Zaliukas header took a deflection en route to goal but Ben Williams made an acrobatic save to the ball to keep it out.

Novikovas was causing problems for Alan Maybury down the left wing, and a cross-cum-shop lopped over Williams and struck the far post before going to safety.

On 19 minutes, Paul Cairney was booked for a challenge on Darren Barr who required treatment.

The game was played at a frantic pace and Cairney dribbled through a couple of challenges to reach the Hearts penalty box but took an extra touch when a shot looked on and was dispossessed by Andy Webster.

Hearts keeper Jamie Macdonald was almost caught napping when Griffiths closed him down and it took some nifty footwork to clear the danger with the Hearts supporters holding their breath.

Good interplay between Maybury and Wotherspoon saw the ball end up at Doyle’s feet in the box, but the Irishman’s shot was blocked.

Just before the break Jamie Walker dragged his shot across goal and wide with no team mates able to turn it in.

Andrew Driver replaced the injured Novikovas at half time, and the visitors started the second half the way they finished the first as Darren Barr’s left foot shot that flew past the post.

Hibs fought back and a Leigh Griffiths free-kick just missed the heads of Eoin Doyle and Wotherspoon.

On 53 minutes, Leigh Griffiths suffered an ankle injury after a clash with Darren Barr. The on-loan star lay off the field as lay raged on, and he was forced to roll over the touchline onto the park before the referee stopped the game. It looked as if referee Callum Murray was going to caution Griffiths for entering the field without permission, however when he saw the extent of the injury he immediately signalled for a stretcher. Griffiths left the field to a standing ovation and was replaced by teenager Ross Caldwell.

It looked as though the game would end goalless, a result which would no doubt have suited the Hearts board given the financial state of the club, but eventually the breakthrough came and three sides of Easter Road erupted.

Wotherspoon received a Cairney pass and drove at the Hearts defence, beating McHattie before striking for goal. His shot took a big deflection off Zaliukas and looped over MacDonald and into the net.

Hearts tried to force an equaliser to take the tie back to Tynecastle but Hibs comfortably saw out the closing moments.

The game ended with a mass pushing match between both sets of players at the corner flag as Paul Cairney tried to waste time and keep possession.

Pat Fenlon jumped in the air on the pitch when the final whistle sounded and was joined by a limping Griffiths as the delighted Hibs players savoured their moment of glory.

After the game, a delighted Pat Fenlon said: “This was to give them [the fans] a little bit of payback.”

“To see our end of the stadium empty so quickly [in the cup final], I totally understand that and that’s why I wanted to go round and it was more a thank you to them for their support this season. It’s been a difficult couple seasons for the club, so we’ll enjoy today. It wasn’t a great game but when you come out with a victory against your biggest rivals it’s more enjoyable.”

“The atmosphere was electric and we were all waiting for something to happen. Maybe if the goal had come earlier, we’d have had a better game. In the first-half I thought Hearts were a little bit better than us but there wasn’t loads of chances in the game, and it was getting cagey, I suppose both sides might have settled for the draw.”

“I thought the back four were excellent and Lewis Stevenson was fantastic at left-back. He hasn’t been in the team; he’s a central midfielder and has been filling in for the last few games. He epitomises what we want to be here. We’re not the biggest team but there wasn’t many headers lost today. He’s only a little lad, like myself, and he was up against some big boys and showed great commitment.”

“Leigh’s moving around a bit brighter than we thought. He normally recovers quickly, so hopefully he’ll be okay. We’ll need to assess him in training in the morning.”

“Everything helps in relation to attracting players, whether it’s Leigh or somebody else,” said Fenlon.

“We have a fantastic stadium and great training facilities. Obviously, we don’t have loads of money to throw at players but we have other good attributes, and winning football matches is the biggest help of all, I suppose.”

Hibs: Williams, McGivern, Hanlon, Claros, Griffiths (Caldwell 53′), Doyle (Sproule 69′), Cairney, Wotherspoon, Stevenson, Maybury, Taiwo. Substitutes not used: Murdoch, Kuqi, Donaldson.

Heart of Midlothian: MacDonald, McGowan, Barr (Robinson 58′), Webster, Stevenson, Toil, Walker (Sutton 72′), Novikovas (Driver 46′), Zaliukas, McHattie, Paterson. Substitutes not used: Enckleman, Smith.

Referee: Calum Murray.

Attendance 17,052

Four Match Ban For Fenlon As Hibs Fans Refuse Support For Reformed Rangers

Hibs boss Pat Fenlon has been hit with a four match ban by the SFA for misconduct during the closing stages of Saturday’s 5-1 defeat to Hearts in the Scottish Cup Final.

Fenlon was sent to the stand by referee Craig Thomson after he was seen to aim a gesture in the general direction of celebrating Hearts fans who were taunting him by singing ‘There’s only on Pat Fenlon.’

After the match he denied that the gesture was directed at fans, and claimed that his frustration was with his own players.

The former Bohs boss claimed: “I made a gesture in relation to the way we were playing. We kept giving the ball away cheaply. I don’t know what they were singing to be honest. There is a hell of a lot made in relation to the gesture. I didn’t get to speak to the referee. He was the last person I wanted to speak to. It was frustration with the way we were playing. The referee said it was the police, but I spoke to the police who said that they had nothing to do with it so it’s disappointing.”

A judicial panel took place yesterday with the outcome being a four match suspension, with two matches effective immediately and the other two games suspended until the end of the season. Those games will come into effect if Fenlon is found guilty of another breach of rule 203 involving any type of misconduct.

Meanwhile Hibs fans have voted overwhelmingly against a Newco Rangers being allowed into the SPL. Over 99.32% on Fan’s forum Hibs.net and 98.65% on Hibees Bounce which consists of over 1000 individual votes have demanded that the Glasgow Giants resume in the third division, and many supporters have vowed to return season tickets should Chairman Rod Petrie vote in favour of allowing Rangers back.

Mike Riley, chairman of the Hibs Supporters Clubs said: “I think the majority view among the Hibs supporters is that Rangers should be punished and punished severely. They have done wrong and they should stand up and take whatever comes their way. Whatever way the vote goes it is going to cause ructions in Scottish football for a long time to come. For them to come back as a Newco and go straight back into the SPL would upset a lot of people and I know a lot of Hibs fans who would be very unhappy if that were to be the case.

They are due many clubs money so everyone is being dragged into it. I think at the moment they are getting what they deserve.”

Petrie who is currently with the SFA in Poland has already hinted that he would support the wishes of the fans and is on record as saying: “That’s fundamental to us at our club, to make sure the integrity of the game is not called into question and that the sporting integrity of the competition we take part in is maintained at the highest standards. It’s not a question of any sum of money in return for that integrity; integrity is beyond purchase.

It’s important that all clubs can have a place within football provided they have earned it in a sporting sense and also have abided by the rules.”

The twelve SPL clubs will vote on the issue when a meeting can be arranged and a Newco Rangers need eight votes to regain their place after the old company went into liquidation yesterday.

On the playing front, midfield hard-man Martin ‘Jimmy’ Scott has agreed to join his former club Ross County on loan. The 26 year old was signed by Colin Calderwood but has hardly played following a training ground bust up with Sean Welsh which resulted in the youngster receiving a broken jaw. Fenlon sent Scott on ‘gardening leave’ toward the end of the season.

The club have been linked with Tim Clancy, a 28 year old defender originally from Trim in County Meath, who left Motherwell after failing to agree terms with manager Stuart McCall.