Lewis Allan: We all knew new Hibs coach Robbie Stockdale – because of Sunderland Netflix documentary

New Hibs boss Paul Heckingbottom may still be in the very early stages of getting to know his players but, revealed striker Lewis Allan, they already have the lowdown on his assistant Robbie Stockdale thanks to the much acclaimed television programme Sunderland ’Til I Die.

The eight-part fly-on-the-wall documentary caught the imagination of football fans the length and the breadth of the country as it followed events at the Stadium of Light throughout last season.

Sanctioned by chairman Ellis Short in the hope it would attract investors, the expectation was it would chronicle life as the Black Cats, newly relegated from the English Premier League, fought for promotion.

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Instead, it narrated in excruciating detail a chaotic season as Sunderland found themselves crashing into League One.

New Hibs coach Robbie Stockdale, right, was part of the Sunderland back-room team during the season that was caught on camera. Pic: PA

Throughout former Scotland defender Stockdale was there, initially as first-team coach to manager Simon Grayson, taking over as caretaker after he was axed early in the season until Chris Coleman got the job.

And then, after the Welshman was sacked, the 39-year-old taking over again for the final game of the season – a 3-0 win over champions Wolves – following the Welshman’s dismissal.

“When we heard the name one of the young boys said, ‘that’s the guy off the Sunderland programme’,” revealed Allan.

“Quite a few of the lads had watched the series. It was obviously a very difficult time for Sunderland but a really good inside story.

Lewis Allan hopes to force his way into Paul Heckingbottom's first-team plans. Pic: SNS

“Robbie seemed to be very calm, in obviously trying circumstances someone who tried to steady the ship and to get the players enjoying playing, although obviously it didn’t work out in the end.

Stockdale lost his job when new owners took over on Wearside, with St Mirren boss Jack Ross taking over as manager, but he was the first name on Heckingbottom’s list to join him at Easter Road as he was unveiled as Neil Lennon’s successor at the end of last week.

And, insisted Allan, those impressions gained via the small screen have, at least thus far, been right.

He said: “We only had a couple of days before the Hamilton game but Robbie seems a really good guy, but more importantly, a very good coach.

“He and the gaffer didn’t try to do too much too quickly last Thursday and Friday. They got a wee bit of information in, but I am sure over the coming days and weeks they’ll be slowly but surely getting over how they want us to play, the systems, the formations.

“I am sure we’ll be continually learning. The gaffer is very good in that sense and the boys are looking forward to working with him and Robbie as we move forward.”

Heckingbottom has made it clear he’ll be wanting Hibs to play a fast, aggressive style of football, taking the game to the opposition and working hard when not in possession.

That much was evident as goals from Florian Kamberi and Marc McNulty earned him a first-day win against Accies, the front two replaced by Oli Shaw and Allan as they tired having met their new head coach’s demands that they be the first line of defence.

Given that approach, 22-year-old Allan revealed he hopes it brings him more game time as he seeks to impress with his contract running down.

He said: “It’s a level playing field when a new manager comes in. Everyone sees it as a clean slate and having to start all over again to catch his eye.

“He plays two up front and it will be physically demanding on those guys as he wants them to work hard from the front, pressing the opposition. He hasn’t said he’ll use all four of us in every game, but it’s a tough job doing that so I’m sure he’ll utilise us more than in other positions.

“Hopefully that will result in me getting more minutes on the pitch because we have some big games coming up.”

Allan replaced McNulty for the final few minutes to clock up his 50th league appearance, although the overwhelming majority of them came during loan spells with Dunfermline, Forfar, Livingston and Edinburgh City.

But this season the big striker, who spent almost a year out of the game after undergoing surgery to remove a cyst on his spine which could have left him paralysed, play his greatest number of games in a green-and-white shirt, a fact he puts down to former boss Neil Lennon.

He said: “Neil was a brilliant man-manager who seemed to get the best out of his players, although we’ve had a bit of a sticky patch lately. I’d just finished a loan spell with Edinburgh City which I’d enjoyed when I was told I could leave Hibs.

“But Neil seems to see something in me. We had discussions as to what he wanted me to do. He started me in two games and helped bring me on, so I’ll always be grateful to him.”

Now, though, Allan is looking to make rapid progress under Heckingbottom, hoping to play his part in Hibs push for a top-six finish and, hopefully, convince him he’s worth a new deal.

He said: “It was great to get a win for the new boss in his first game. We got two goals but it could have been more. Yes, Hamilton had chances, but we could have scored four or five. The main thing was we were created chances so we have to be pleased with that.

“There were obviously things we can improve on and I am sure we’ll waste no time in working on them but at least it was a good stepping stone.

“We want to make sure we get into the top six before the split and then take things from there, but we have a tough game against Dundee at Dens Park on Friday night. They’ll have got a huge lift from their win over Livingston and getting out of the bottom two

“I don’t think a draw would suit either side given our respective goals so, like ourselves, I’d imagine they’ll be going for the win.”