Few are able to avoid leaving a match involving Hibs these days without the uncomfortable realisation they are humming the tune to Achy Breaky Heart, Billy Ray Cyrus’ country foot stomper from the early 1990s.
So, imagine being the subject of such an infectious song adapted by Hibees in tribute to John McGinn – or should that be “Super John McGinn”?
The 21 year-old midfielder yesterday admitted he has to “try not to whistle it” when he is out and about, away from the stadium.
“I get a bit embarrassed by it,” he added, in reference to the song’s central claim that he is “better than Zidane”. He shrugged: “I guess it just fits the song.”
But he is also slightly discomfited by being singled out for praise when it was clearly proved on Sunday, after a much-changed side defeated Alloa Athletic 3-0, that Hibs are far more than a one-man team. He clearly believes all his team-mates deserve a song devoted to them, particularly after the so-called fringe players stepped in to take the strain at the weekend.
McGinn, indeed, was one of those relegated to the bench, although he did appear in the second-half, as did Kevin Thomson and Darren McGregor. Top goalscorer Jason Cummings stayed on the bench throughout, as did Anthony Stokes, their star loan acquisition from Celtic.
Never mind one-man team, manager Alan Stubbs later commented that as many as 20 of his players could accurately be described as being of first-team standard. Seven came in on Sunday to replace those who started the Scottish Cup win against Hearts and the team barely missed a beat against Alloa.
With three tough league games to come inside six days, starting against Morton tomorrow night, Stubbs may well continue adopting a similar rotational policy. While it is comforting for Hibs fans, and Stubbs, to know players can be rested without too many fears, McGinn is wary of those who interpret such strength-in-depth as meaning it is only a matter of time until Hibs catch leaders Rangers – particularly a Rangers side now deprived of their top goalscorer, Martyn Waghorn, for a number of weeks.
“Unfortunately it’s 11 players that go on the pitch and not 16,” he said. “We’ve got a really good squad but so do Rangers. They have recruited really well. I know Billy [King] from the under-21s and Michael O’Halloran everyone knows is a good player.
“We know Rangers are going to keep churning out results. We’ve just got to try to stay on their toes and hope that they slip up.”
Hibs do not, of course, get extra points for winning without their top players. But the obvious quality of their substitutes on Sunday was still worthy of comment.
“It was a really strong bench on Sunday and that took the headlines,” noted McGinn. “But it was also a really strong starting XI, one that wouldn’t look out of place in the Premiership.
“There is not really any point in having a big squad if you don’t use it,” McGinn added. “We have a lot of big games coming up so it is important to keep everyone fresh. The boys know that we are all in it together and that if you get left out one week then you might be in the next game.”
Not that McGinn wishes to miss out on too many opportunities to impress as the resumption of Scotland’s international calendar looms ever nearer. He has already been mentioned by Mark McGhee, the Scotland assistant manager, as being on Gordon Strachan’s radar ahead of next month’s friendly double-header against Czech Republic and Denmark.
McGinn is understandably wary about being seen to allow his eye to stray from the ball, particularly as Hibs continue to compete on three different fronts. “It’s always nice to have someone like Mark say that about you,” he said. “But I’m just concentrating on getting success for Hibs. If anything else comes my way I will be prepared for it.”
Containing as it does a League Cup final against Ross County and a home quarter-final tie against Inverness in the William Hill Scottish Cup, March is already a hugely exciting month. Even Stubbs, in his attempt to convince McGinn to move to Hibs in the summer, could not have dared to promise so much.
“The gaffer just said that we would be challenging for silverware,” said McGinn. “It would be mad to think we would still be in three competitions at this time.
“We are not daft. We don’t think: ‘We are going to win the treble’. We just keep going until the end of the season and try and stay in these competitions for as long as we can.”
But the tune he most wants to be whistling come the season’s end is We are the Champions. Returning to the Premiership remains the priority. “That was the priority at the start of the season,” he said. “No matter how we manage to do it, we wanted promotion and that’s what we are going to try and do.”
l John McGinn was speaking at the launch of a new specialised football coaching business, 121 Sports Coaching. For information contact Bradley Halsman on 07413591786 or visit www.121sportscoaching.co.uk