Really, they should know better – the Hibernian fans should know the script by now. As soon as they spot Christian Nade’s name on the opposition team-sheet they should know that he will probably score. So what did they do? Taunt him. And what did he do? Score.
For Raith Rovers last season, he responded to the “One man, two men, three men and his forklift truck” chant with title-damaging goals. The song, about how such an assembly “couldnae carry” the big, burly striker, was itself a reaction to him having netted for Hearts in Edinburgh derbies before that. No wonder, after this win for Dumbarton which looks to have ended the Leith team’s dwindling hopes of automatic promotion back to the Premiership, that he declared: “I wish I could play against Hibs every weekend.”
He’s not, truth be told, a hammer of the Hibees like John Robertson; nevertheless his refusal to be cowed by so much abuse is to be admired. Indeed, he claims it inspires him. “I don’t know why my record against Hibs is good but I think their fans give me the strength to score – I love them,” Nade said, diamond earring twinkling under the foyer lights at the Cheaper Insurance Direct Stadium.
“It’s because of them, giving me abuse in games, sending me messages, I just have to give them something. They were shouting and singing and I was saying to them: ‘Just wait, I’m coming.’ I told them to be patient. The cross [from Mark Docherty] was perfect. I knew where I had to run and I scored.”
Nade milked the moment, and again on the walk to the tunnel after being substituted. “I thought about going round past the Dumbarton fans but then I said to myself: ‘No, I need to say hi to the Hibs fans.’ They’d given me such a hard time during the game.”
His glancing header put the Sons two-up after Kevin Cawley had opened the scoring. Hibs dominated possession in the first half and presumably would have been more stunned at that point if they hadn’t lost 3-0 to Morton three days previously. Dumbarton matched that scoreline early in the second half when Darren Barr headed home and although Hibs were able to mount a fightback on this occasion, replying through Liam Henderson and Farid El Alagui, the home side held on for a valuable victory as they strive to avoid being dragged into the relegation play-offs. For Hibs, six points mislaid at the Rock this season, it looks like the promotion play-offs.
Henderson was their best player on an afternoon of few other contenders. He refused to give up the title fight. “I wouldn’t say it’s beyond us now,” he asserted. “If it was then why play the rest of the games. We’re a confident dressing room, an extremely talented team and we’ll do our best to bounce back.”
He described the defeat as “really frustrating” and “a bit of a shock”. But this was football. “These things happen, that’s why it’s such a sought-after sport. You guys and the supporters come because there can be upsets. I thought we played well and this was just unfortunate. But you have to give credit to Dumbarton. They had three chances and took them.”
Hibs have one more league game, at Queen of the South tomorrow night, to get their groove back before a Scottish Cup quarter-final and the League Cup final. Pressure? Henderson says no.
“We’re a young team, a lot of the boys haven’t experienced anything like this before, but I don’t think it’s taking its toll,” he said.
“There’s character in the group, too. I’m not thinking about the cup games yet because the league is still the priority.
“Yes, we’re playing a lot of games but that’s what happens when you’re challenging in every competition and every footballer wants that.”