‘They bottled it’ is a phrase that has been used on numerous occasions, really since they last won the Scottish Cup (1902 to be precise). Time and time again, Hibernian come so close to glory, only for the respective trophy to slip from their fingers. But are the capital side truly ‘bottlers’?
The term has been associated with Hibs for a number of years now, and every time they succumb to the pressure, many start to question what sort of message is hidden for Hibs inside that proverbial bottle?
In the past it may have just been bad luck, but can it really be the case as they complete some of their worst defeats in recent history? That 5-1 defeat to Hearts, relegation to the Championship and a failure to win the Scottish cup in over 110 years has time and time again led the public to question whether Hibs simply are bottlers, or if it is just bad luck.
The Easter Road faithful will be the first to tell you they have seen managers and players come and go who simply do not cut the grade required for a club of this size. Often seen as underachievers, Hibs’ last glory came in the 2007 CIS Cup win over Kilmarnock, and in that time they’ve lost two Scottish Cup finals, been relegated and failed to beat their capital rivals in the race to be promoted.
Now, after a run of three straight defeats which has seen Rangers storm 14 points clear at the top of the Championship, the bottler claim is raging on once more. “Hibsing it” even seems to be a term which is now commonly used to describe Alan Stubbs’ current crop, but what does it truly mean to Hibs it?
The current first team are fairly young and full of talent, with potential to soon be winning silverware once more. In recent times, their failures have come when attempting to win the league or when they are in the latter stages of cup football. So if this is truly what it means to ‘Hibs it up’, perhaps there are some clubs which would bite your hand off to Hibs it?
Perhaps Rangers should be storming clear ahead of the Championship. Their budget is undoubtedly larger than Hibs’, with an experienced manager who seems to make good teams better and worked wonders with Brentford. When all is said and done, this is Glasgow Rangers, and they should expect nothing less. That is no excuse to concede the league from a Hibs point of view, but perhaps it has been a matter of time.
The glory in the cups may have sidetracked Hibs from the league, with Darren McGregor admitting they may have taken their eye off the ball after the recent successes. Stubbs may be accused of spending too much time in the limelight, but this is a man who has built the squad from nothing, and wouldn’t dare see it all thrown away easily. Injuries have not been kind, with Paul Hanlon, Fraser Fyvie the latest to miss out, and Farid El Alagui and Dan Carmichael suffering injury ravaged seasons.
Players such as John McGinn, Anthony Stokes and Lewis Stevenson already have winners medals tucked away in their cabinets; players who know what it takes to win things, and whilst the latter may have suffered more heartache in his career than success, these are professional football players who are winners. These players know what is expected from them at Hibernian Football Club, a club with such a rich history. The Famous Five, Turnbull’s Tornados and heroes such as Frank Sauzee, Russell Latapy and Pat Stanton epitomise what it means to be a Hibee. Passion, heart and leaving everything on the pitch, players who wouldn’t dare sit down and be labelled a bottler.
The season still holds so much in store for Hibs, with the first potential success for the loyal fans coming in a couple of weeks as they face Ross County in the final of the League Cup, and they’ll be hoping Sunshine on Leith will once again be blared from the rafters as they get their season back on track. Promotion is still a huge possibility, and with the side’s record against Premiership sides, write Hibs off at your peril. And maybe, just maybe, they could do the unthinkable and bring the Scottish Cup back to Easter Road after years of anguish. There is no doubting some players in the past may have not been able to handle the big occasion for Hibs which has seen such angst come around, and with it the bottler tag.
This is Hibernian, a club so close to the heart of Edinburgh and its supporters. Put down so much in recent years, perhaps now is the time for Hibs’ retribution, and to wipe that bottler tag, at least until next season…
Photo credit: Duncan Harris – duncanh1, flickr
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