It IS unlike any self-respecting striker to advocate his team ‘parking the bus’, but Hibernian’s Paul Heffernan believes that very strategy has proved pivotal as he finds his feet at Easter Road.
The Irish striker has revealed how a group of the club’s Glasgow-based players have shelled out for a people carrier for the daily rush-hour trek along the M8 to training. Substitute goalkeeper Sean Murdoch is the designated driver while Heffernan, Ross Caldwell, James McPake, Liam Craig and Paul Cairney relax in the back.
Dubbed the ‘Vengabus’, Heffernan is not convinced the shaky people carrier will make it to the turn of the year – but he is adamant it is having a real impact on team morale as he gets used to his new surroundings.
“The lads have chipped in for a people carrier to drive to training every day. Sean Murdoch is the driver and he tries to look after it – but, to be honest, I can’t see it getting us through the winter,” said Heffernan.
“There seems to be something new with it every day. I’m getting blamed for the latest problem – the broken door – but it’s a bit harsh blaming me for that. It wasn’t my fault.
“It’s like a black cab, I’m convinced Sean Murdoch has a taxi business on the side, taking it around Glasgow at nighttime. But it’s all good, the lads love it and it’s a good laugh – we can chill out in the back while Sean drives.
“It is brilliant banter travelling over with the lads and it helps me get settled in and get to know them by travelling in every day with them. The boys in the car are all lighthearted and like to joke about.”
Heffernan has also been made to feel at home with the presence of ex-Kilmarnock team-mate Michael Nelson – who has already established himself as something of a dressing-room joker, donning a Honey Monster mask for the team photo-shoot last Thursday.
“He did that at Kilmarnock last year,” Heffernan continued. “Him and Gary Harkins pulled out a couple of wigs and stuck them on for the picture and he’s done it again. He dressed as the Honey Monster for the Christmas party last year as well – that’s his party trick, I think.”
Hibs’ home form this season, however, has been no laughing matter, with the Edinburgh club still awaiting their first win of the season in Leith.
They have only scored one goal at Easter Road but welcome St Mirren to Edinburgh on the back of a four-game unbeaten run following a 2-1 win at St Johnstone last week.
And, allied with a potential home debut for “great talent” Abdellah Zoubir, Heffernan believes there are reasons for Hibs fans to be enthused heading into the weekend. “I’ve seen [Zoubir] for a couple of weeks now, he played in the bounce game against Rangers and for 20 minutes against St Johnstone and he looks a great talent,” he added.
“He’s got some tricks, he is strong, he can run with the ball. He definitely has the potential to be a very good player. Even in training he is twisting and turning and getting shots off, so he is an exciting prospect.”