Home is where the heart is, and after an itinerant career in which he has drifted from club to club, it’s unsurprising that Scott Allan, back for a third spell at Hibs, is now at his most content.
It will probably come as a shock to many to discover that a player now 28 years of age has started a mere 108 league matches but the fact more than half of them have been for the Easter Road outfit perhaps tells its own story.
Highly rated as a youngster at Dundee United, Allan took the early decision to seek fame and fortune south of the border only to discover grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
He failed to make a single appearance following his move to West Bromwich Albion, finding himself shunted around the likes of Portsmouth (twice), MK Dons and Birmingham before Alan Stubbs’ breathed new life into his career, the newly appointed Hibs coach bringing him back to Scotland as he began to reshape an Easter Road club reeling from the shock of relegation that summer.
Voted the Championship player of the year at the end of that season, Allan attracted attention from both sides of the Old Firm, making his move to Celtic after Hibs refused to sell to Rangers, then their biggest rivals in the second tier.
A four-year deal counted for little, the playmaker failing to nail down a starting place at Celtic Park as he again found himself the nomad, on loan at Rotherham during Stubbs’ ill-fated spell in charge of the English side and then on to Dundee.
Brought back to Edinburgh by Neil Lennon for the second half of last season, Allan again shone, helping Hibs to a highly creditable fourth place on their return to the top flight.
He had, though, to return to Celtic to see out the final year of his deal, knowing full well he’d never enjoy even a hint of first-team action, his only solace being that half-way through it he signed a pre-contract deal to return to Hibs yet again.
However, before he did so, Lennon had departed in mysterious circumstances to resurface back in the east end of Glasgow, replaced by Paul Heckingbottom who, in turn, was also shown the door, leaving Allan now playing for current head coach Jack Ross, pictured inset.
“I wouldn’t say it was unsettling,” he insisted. “It’s just the nature of the beast, football. I’ve been through it before, people come and go from clubs, managers and players. It’s just the way it is, for me it’s about keeping my focus and doing the best I can on the park.
“As I’ve said numerous times, I was just excited to get back on the pitch again. Obviously it’s been a bit up and down at times but I feel since the manager and assistant came in it’s been mainly positive.”
The “under new management” sign may have been hoisted yet again at Easter Road but as far as Allan is concerned he’s at home in a changing room which still contains many of the characters who inhabited it first time around.
He said: “It’s the only kind of place I’ve been given a fair run of games to produce my best football. I’d say that and obviously I have a good connection with the fans and they know how I play so maybe I get a bit of leeway in certain things but it’s the place I’ve played the most football so I have been able to show that.
“It’s definitely the most settled I’ve been in a good few years. I wasn’t playing so the fact I’m playing football every week and have a good association with the club, it’s been brilliant for me.”
For a club which will forever be associated with the years of the Famous Five, Allan appears the perfect fit, someone who plays the game the way Hibs fans believe only their side is capable of, with a bit of a swagger. As far as Allan is concerned, however, nothing beats winning, something Hibs didn’t do too often in the first half of the season – although they do sit sixth in the Premiership table – and something Ross hopes to have addressed to some extent during a winter training camp in the south of Spain.
Hibs returned from the Costa del Sol yesterday and have another week to prepare for what is a tricky Scottish Cup tie away to Allan’s old club Dundee United next Sunday, a chance, insisted the midfielder, to lay down a marker for the remainder of the season.
He said: “We were looking forward to this week, getting the players together with no distractions and in that sense it’s been good for us.
“We obviously have a tough game away to Dundee United in the Scottish Cup so we really need to be ready for it. We know what the Scottish Cup means for people at Hibernian and if we were to win that tie I am sure it would be a good boost going into the league fixtures.”