AFTER a somewhat nomadic existence Mark Oxley is ready to lay down some roots. He is newly engaged to his long-term girlfriend Chloe and has now signed a new two-year contract with Hibernian.
Not that the goalkeeper needed much persuasion on either front, getting down on bended knee on a beach in Corfu to propose and then sealing a deal with Hibs.
The 25-year-old arrived in Edinburgh a year ago as a virtual unknown, on loan for the season from Hull City in what was the latest staging post in a career which had begun at Rotherham and also encompassed spells at Walsall, Grimsby, Burton and Oldham. He went on to play all but one of Hibs 46 matches.
But, if he was unsure of what to expect back then, Oxley admitted the decision to turn his back on offers from elsewhere to stay with the Championship side was made all the easier with the news that a number of his team-mates had also signed on again, determined to complete the “unfinished business” of taking Hibs back into the top flight.
The Yorkshireman said: “I’d never been in a position like this before where things haven’t been sorted before I have gone away on holiday. There were a few options down south but it was weighing that up against going somewhere new. I loved it up here last year.
“I knew Hibs were interested towards the end of the season but like every player you need to assess everything, especially at home. Once we knew the offer was concrete this was the club I wanted to be at. After speaking to Chloe we decided this was the best place to progess. We’ve loved it up here from day one and now I’ve got these two years it’s something we can both look forward to.”
There were options to go into clubs where I would probably be No 2Mark Oxley
Oxley joins Liam Fontaine, Fraser Fyvie, Lewis Stevenson and David Gray in signing new deals with Hibs. They are joined by Martin Boyle, who was on loan at the end of last season and has now agreed a new contract.
In Oxley’s estimation, Hibs are far better placed for the coming season than they were 12 months ago when head coach Alan Stubbs faced a race against time to put a squad in place following the sacking of Terry Butcher and the immediate release of 14 players following relegation. “I think that was our downfall going into the season,” admitted Oxley.
“In mid-July when I came in the gaffer was trying to get the pieces together whereas he now has more or less solved it, I think.”
The prospect of regular first team football made it easy for Oxley to turn down some of the offers which had come his way.
“There were options to go into clubs where I would probably be No 2,” he said. “It’s a big decision. It’s easy for someone to go into a club and be happy sitting on the bench every week on decent money. But I did that in my early years and at 25 I just want to continue playing. I only missed one game last season, when I was injured.”
And as content as he’s likely to be on the pitch, Oxley admitted he and Chloe are looking forward to settling down in Scotland. He said: “I proposed on the beach, I was very nervous. She didn’t expect it. We’ve been together for a while now, about seven years, so the pressure was on me. I’m really happy, delighted how everything has turned out. It’s been quite a summer.”