Brian Graham has refuted any suggestion that Hibernian are a dirty team following a remarkable run of three red cards in five fixtures, insisting they are the ones being routinely “battered” by their opponents, writes Alan Temple.
Graham confesses to a sense of disbelief on Saturday when he watched Marvin Bartley receive his marching orders for an alleged stamp on Morton winger Bobby Barr.
The capital club are confident the decision will be rescinded, with the appeal set to be heard at Hampden this afternoon.
Bartley saw his previous red card in Hibs’ 2-1 defeat against Ayr United last month quashed, while Lewis Stevenson also made the long walk for an early bath in their 0-0 draw against Queen of the South.
While Graham acknowledges Hibs’ disciplinary woes make grim reading, he reckons their record is deceptive and belies the fact Neil Lennon’s side are one of the “fairest” in the division.
“You are sitting there thinking ‘surely that can’t be another red card!’” said Graham ruefully. “That is just the way it seems to be going at the moment.
“The referee said [Bartley] stamped on his groin but I don’t think there was anything in it and hopefully the hearing goes our way on Thursday.
“I don’t worry about us getting a reputation at all. We’re certainly not a dirty team and if you watch our games, 90 per cent of the time it is our boys taking a battering, but if the ref then gives us a red card, there’s nothing we can do about that.
“It’s a long hard season and hopefully we’ll get the rub of the green going forward. We’ve had a couple of suspicious red cards, if you want to put it that way, but we don’t want to dwell on that.”
Bartley did, at least, see the funny side of the incident on Monday morning when he tweeted “today I will be practising how to stop in mid air and also how to ‘boot’ someone half my size and not spin 180 degrees and end up on my bum!”
“Marv wasn’t particularly happy on Saturday after the game,” Graham continued. “But we’ve had a little bit of craic this week, a laugh and a joke, and he’s a wee bit more upbeat now. He is hopeful he’ll be available on Saturday.”
The trip to Dunfermline will see Hibs attempt to register their first victory in five outings. It is a run that, despite being underwhelming, has seen the Hibees return to the summit of the Championship by virtue of goal difference.
“People might look at it and say ‘they’re having a blip’. Well, how many clubs have a blip and are still top of the league?” added Graham. “Every team wants to shoot us down and we need to be ready for that.
“The fans have high expectations and what to get back to the Premiership and we, as players, are exactly the same. We just need to stick together and I believe we’ll get there.”