Hibs reaction: 'We felt like we owed something today to the fanbase - Ron was looking down on us'

Lee Johnson was thrilled to hear Sunshine on Leith being belted out at full time after Hibs’ 1-0 win over Hearts, but he was disappointed that former owner Ron Gordon was not there to soak up the atmosphere as they secured their first derby win in 10 attempts, their first at Easter Road since 2018.

“I had a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye listening to Sunshine on Leith at the end,” revealed Johnson. “You work hard, the boys work hard and you just want to give back and when that song comes out it means everyone is happy.

“We have let the fans down a couple of times this year, probably a few too many times and when that bond starts to get created between the players, staff and fanbase we have fallen a bit short. We are building this so that’s a big win for us to build the connection and trust with the fanbase. You see how powerful it is when everyone is unified.”

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It was Kevin Nisbet who popped up in the right place, at the right time to grab the 67th-minute winner but it was a goal that had been coming as Hibs gave one of their most comfortable derby displays in years and the only downside as far as Johnson was concerned was that Gordon, who passed away in February without witnessing a derby triumph at Easter Road.

Hibs manager Lee Johnson revels in the derby victory over Hearts at Easter Road.Hibs manager Lee Johnson revels in the derby victory over Hearts at Easter Road.
Hibs manager Lee Johnson revels in the derby victory over Hearts at Easter Road.

“I’m sure Ron was looking down on us and would have enjoyed that one himself,” the manager said. “He's always with us – we're going to put a collage of him up at the training ground, and he lives on through us and through his family as well. I wish he'd been there today because it would have been a fantastic thing for him to see but he's a constant in terms of the way we speak of him. He gave a lot of us our opportunities here. It felt like a great win, it was quite emotional at the end. It’s a brilliant club, from the board, fans, playing staff and academy. So we felt like we owed something today to the fanbase, they deserved that one. It was certainly for everyone.”

Paul Hanlon was, as his gaffer says, ‘the daddy’ in the backline and, reinstalled after recovering from injury, he also provided the assist for Nisbet. “It was a back-stick cross from Jake and I managed to help it back across,” said the defender. “Nissy has that instinct to be in the right position when it comes over. But [the gaffer] needs to stop calling me that. I’m getting a lot of stick from the boys. In defence it’s all about working as a team, if you start playing as individuals you will get found out. We worked well as a unit today.

“We really needed it didn’t we? Great to get the win and the clean sheet, It was a proper battle of a derby I thought but we could probably have made it a bit easier as the game went on because we had a lot of counter-attacks. There’s lads who haven’t experienced Sunshine on Leith in that celebration mode at the end of a game. It’s amazing to see and the lads really enjoyed it. We want more success.”