MARTIN Boyle’s father was delighted when he found out that his son was about to play in the Edinburgh derby. He would have been a lot happier, however, if the young striker had been wearing the maroon of Hearts rather than Hibernian green.
The 21-year-old, who joined Hibs on loan from Dundee at the start of the month, grew up in Aberdeen as a supporter of the Pittodrie club. But his family are Hearts supporters from Dunbar, and his father, Graeme, would far rather Boyle junior had signed on at Tynecastle.
Having said that, Martin explained that his dad was very much his biggest supporter, even to the extent of turning up in the Hibs end for the derby three weeks ago. But that support might just have been stretched to the limit had Martin scored against Hearts in the game, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
“I actually grew up in a Hearts household, but I’ve been keeping that a bit quiet,” Martin said. “But when I moved up I’ve converted into an Aberdeen fan.
“My dad didn’t advise me against this move or anything like that. It’s only a bit of banter in the house, but it obviously gets brought up.
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“He watches every game I play in, and he was dreading it when I almost scored in the derby. I think he was biting his nails towards the end of that game.
“I don’t know what I would have done if I had scored – it would have been some feeling. I don’t know if I would have run towards him because he was in with the Hibs fans that day. I think he would have ducked down. I think I would just have run about daft.
“He’s chuffed for me. Playing in an Edinburgh derby is something I know he has always wanted me to do. I can tick that and put it in the box for him now, but I won’t be able to convert him. I don’t think he’s going to change now.
“I know he’s proud of me and he’ll come and watch me anywhere I go. He’s been really impressed with the set-up here at East Mains and at Easter Road. He’s been a huge influence on me – he’s been there every step of the way.
“He’s my biggest fan but he’s also my biggest critic – if I have a bad game he’s the first to tell me. He loves his football just like I do. I think he’s just as passionate a supporter as anyone else and wants his son to do well.”
After failing to score in the derby, Boyle had a glaring miss against Falkirk two weeks ago when Hibs were 3-1 up in a match they went on to draw. He was not on the scoresheet either when his team won 5-0 at home to Cowdenbeath last week, but has settled in happily to his new surroundings and is optimistic about his form.
“I’m very disappointed I haven’t scored yet – I think I should have had a couple. But I’ll keep working hard and hopefully it will come along. I’ve really settled in here and I’ve moved down now, so the change of scene has done me good.
“It’s a tough league. I played in it last year and I expect a real challenge to get a double promotion. Hopefully I can help that along the way by getting some goals and really pushing it.
“You want to be playing in the top league, but I don’t see this as dropping down a level. This is as hard as any other league, and having joined a massive club, it’s just as big for me as it would be in the Premiership.
“The opportunity to play games was the main reason I came here. Everyone wants to play. You don’t want to be in and out of the team. You want to play: you want to push yourself to go even further.”
With a three-point lead over Queen of the South and a superior goal difference too, Hibs will remain in third whatever the result in Dumfries this afternoon. Of course, the aim is to get the victory that will keep them within touching distance of Rangers, but Boyle expects a difficult challenge on Palmerston’s artificial surface.
“I went there last year and it was a very tough game. The surface is what it is, you can’t do much about that, but we’ve been training on Astroturf all week so the boys are looking forward to it. They’re a good team; they’re one of the best you’ll come up against in this league. Every game is tough, but they’re in good form and scoring goals.
“There’s good spirit in the camp. We just need to keep winning games. Three points is a must every week.
“There were plenty of twists and turns in the run-in last season, and I’m sure there will be again. If you’re in the play-off spots anything can happen.”