Hibs manager Alan Stubbs has described Rangers as a “fantastic club” while making specific reference to the way the Ibrox fans responded to the then Celtic defender’s cancer diagnosis 16 years ago.
But in a new twist to the on-going back and forth between the Hibs manager and opposite number Mark Warburton ahead of Monday’s critical Championship title clash between the teams, Stubbs pointed out that he is able to mention Rangers by name.
The impish comment has been encouraged by what Stubbs views as Warburton’s reluctance to make specific reference to Hibs as the spiky countdown to Monday’s meeting continues.
In that latest burst of what Warburton has witheringly described as “amateur psychology Level 1” emanating from Hibs’ camp, Stubbs, when asked about his relationship with Rangers fans, described being genuinely moved by their reaction after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1999.
“I got hundreds and hundreds of Get Well Soon cards from them,” he recalled. “There was a banner up at the stadium at one of the games saying the same thing. So for all that’s said, deep down, they’re good fans. They’re not as bad as what people say!
“Listen, I’ve always said that Rangers are a fantastic club. There’s no denying that. I’ve been very respectful to them,” he added. “And I do mention their club – Mark doesn’t like mentioning Hibernian Football Club. We’re ‘the other team’. But I have got no problem mentioning Rangers Football Club. It’s a fantastic club.”
Stubbs has been delighting in the mind games, with relations between the two clubs having been strained since Rangers made three attempts to prise Scott Allan from Hibs at the start of the season.
Warburton recently insisted he “only wants to talk about Rangers”. Earlier this season he also “politely” asked Stubbs to “keep his mouth shut” when the Hibs manager suggested it was easier to manage Rangers than Hibs, because he “had no knowledge of the facts”.