Relieved Rowan Vine was delighted that his deadline day move to Championship strugglers Morton was resurrected, sparing him a frustrating second half of the season on the substitutes’ bench at Hibernian.
The 31-year-old forward completed his transfer to the Greenock side just hours before the January window closed last Friday. However, that was only after a potential loan move collapsed the previous evening.
That collapse left Vine in limbo and facing the prospect of prolonging what had become a miserable spell at Easter Road.
To the Englishman’s relief, though, the deal was revived as a permanent switch which will see him tied to the Cappielow side until the end of the current campaign.
Vine is confident the transition to second tier football will be a smooth one as he reckons Cappielow chief Kenny Shiels’ style of play will be a perfect fit for him. “I am pleased to have got things sorted in the end,” said Vine, before adding: “It was a rushed thing last Friday after the initial interest. I spoke to Kenny a couple of weeks before and it was just a matter of making things work.
“I was glad to get things done as I knew that I wouldn’t be playing football for the rest of the year at Hibs.”
Vine is not too sure where the stalling came from as he said: “I didn’t really know too much about it collapsing. There was talk of me going on loan or permanently, but that doesn’t make much difference when it’s for the last four months of the season.
“Last Friday morning I didn’t think I was going to be going anywhere. I was maybe looking at waiting another week and seeing if there were any loan opportunities. At that point I was disappointed that the Morton thing looked gone. But then, at Friday lunchtime, it started moving again, which was good.”
Vine has no ill-will towards his former employers at Easter Road as he explained: “Hibs is a lovely club and a lovely place to play your football. There are great facilities and things like that, but I’m the type of player who loves to play football. Your job is to play football. You want a level playing field and a chance to fight for your place. But, if the indication is clear you aren’t going to get a chance and your face isn’t fitting, you move on.”
The switch in manager from Pat Fenlon to Terry Butcher started the chain of events that saw Vine end up at the tail o’ the bank, with the striker saying: “It’s been a very frustrating time. I missed a lot of football before I signed for St Johnstone, but I played nearly every game there last season and got to a standard I was happy with.
“To sign for Hibs in the summer was a good move for me. Pat Fenlon brought me in and I was enjoying working with him but I also know that the team, and I personally, didn’t start brilliantly. Then Pat left and, since then, I haven’t had a chance and that’s frustrating. The game’s about opinions, though, and I can fully accept that.”
Shiels could be the man to ignite Vine’s career due to the style of football he prefers, with the one-time Birmingham City striker saying: “Looking outside of Hibs, I looked to see where I would be best set up to play football. I wanted to go to a team that would try to play football and where I could play in my favoured position.
“All these things are what you get from Kenny’s teams. I enjoyed watching Kilmarnock when he was manager there and played against them twice last season.
“I wasn’t going to go to another Premiership team or somewhere else where I was going to sit on the bench just because it’s a higher level. I’m 31, I’ve got to start games at this point.
Vine continued: “The manager has spoken to me about how he wants me to play and how he wants the team to play and that’s passing, attacking football.
“He’s spoken to me about playing off the frontman or out on the left in a 4-2-3-1, and that’s pretty much my best positions. So I know what way he wants to play and what he’s trying to do here at Morton, and that was a big factor in me coming here. Weighing everything up, this is a good fit.”
After missing a Wednesday appointment to speak to the press as he put the wrong type of fuel in his car, Vine was keen to stress that he has already settled at Morton as he said: “I’ve trained with the boys and there’s a real upbeat feeling in the squad that doesn’t really reflect a team that’s bottom of the league. The first impressions have been good.
“The ambition is clear for everyone and that’s to keep Morton in this league. Hopefully, I can get my head down here and help us to achieve that.”