Ex-Hibs assistant: Rod Petrie told us to take Garry O’Connor shopping so he’d stop eating junk food

Former Hibs assistant manager Gerry McCabe has revealed that Rod Petrie begged the coaching staff to take Garry O’Connor shopping - in a bid to top him from eating junk food.

Speaking on RockSport Radio’s Talking Football programme on Monday night, McCabe - who came to Easter Road with Bobby Williamson and Jim Clark in 2002 - recalled the coaching staff’s problems when it came to players’ eating habits.

He said: “The players used to get the best food [at Hibs] from the chef - chicken, pasta - but then they would stop off at the garage and [get junk food].

Sign up to our Football newsletter

“Garry O’Connor was the same. We said, ‘We’ve got a problem with Garry’s weight; he’s up and down’.

Garry O'Connor played under Bobby Williamson and Gerry McCabe between 2002 and 2004. Picture: Pamela Grigg/TSPL

“[He was a] big boy, a talented player with a great career in front of him - went on to Russia and made a right few bob, and played for Scotland.

“He was going to be some player - but there was this other side to him. Rod Petrie called us in - myself, Jim Clark, Bobby and Ian Westwater the goalkeeping coach - and he said to us, ‘Can you not take it in turns and take Garry down to Asda and buy him the veg and meals and all that?’

“We said, ‘We’ve got lives as well,’ and Petrie said, ‘But [Garry’s] an asset.’

“We said, ‘He’s getting all the best food here. But what can we do when he leaves [training] and he’s eating burgers?’

McCabe (right) and Williamson are unveiled as the new Hibs management team. Picture: Sean Bell / TSPL

“What a talent he was - but his weight fluctuated. And we just couldn’t do anything with it.”

McCabe was on Hibs’ books as a youngster, but began his senior career with Clyde before moving onto Clydebank, whom he helped reach the Scottish Premier Division. Shorter spells followed with Hamilton and Dumbarton, before he returned for second spells with Clyde and Accies. His career wound down with short stints at Cork City, Glentoran and Arbroath.

McCabe coached Celtic youth players towards the end of his career before working as Williamson’s right-hand man at Kilmarnock, later following him to Hibs and Plymouth before spells as Dumbarton manager and assistant manager at Queen of the South, Dunfermline and Dundee.