Derby winner was my career highlight says Hibs’ Simon Murray

Simon Murray celebrates his goal for Hibs against Hearts in October. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS
Simon Murray celebrates his goal for Hibs against Hearts in October. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS
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Simon Murray says he is used to being underestimated, but the Hibernian striker knows that the best response is always to slam home some goals and remind everyone why he has made it to where he is.

It is an attitude that helped him notch the only goal in the first capital derby of the season and is the collective stance taken by everyone at Hibs as they have worked to make an impact on their return to the top flight after three seasons in the Championship.

“It’s easy for people just to say ‘no’, because I’ve come from Arbroath and Montrose,” says Murray. “But I know where I am and I know what I can do, so I don’t really bother what people think. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion.

“At the end of the day, my job is to score goals and if I’m scoring goals then nobody can complain.

“You’ll always get one or two people, but I’ve been told at every team I’ve gone to that I wouldn’t do well there or there. It’s just nice to sometimes prove people wrong.”

Murray has done it the hard way. After beginning his career with Montrose he dropped down to the juniors, playing for Downfield and Tayport, before returning to the senior ranks after a spell in Australia.

“When I was at junior level and took the step up to Arbroath, people said ‘if you go there you’ll be on the bench’.”

The 25-year-old, who stopped off at Dundee United en route to Leith from Gayfield, says that every step up in his career has been declared a step too far by someone but he has always succeeded in serving up humble pie.

“When that day comes, that’s fine. But I’m trying to do it for myself, not the people who doubt me, and that’s the way it is.”

It did not take him long to make his mark on his Edinburgh derby debut. Working with Brandon Barker out on the left flank, he then cut inside, nutmegged John Souttar, and then skelped an angled shot into the net from about 15 yards out.

“It was probably the best feeling I have had in football. The Edinburgh derby is a big derby and to start it off like that was even better. I wasn’t sure I was even going to start that game, but Anthony Stokes got injured and the gaffer told me late on and it all worked out perfect.

“The goal was massive and to happen so early on, we should have gone on to win by a couple of more. The goal is what stands out and I have seen it a few times since then. It was a good moment.”

The second head-to-head of the league campaign is on Wednesday and Murray can hardly wait for his second taste of the fixture.

“I like the bigger games, I think everyone does. It gives you that little extra bit of energy and I like playing at night as well, for some reason. I like it under the lights or maybe it is more rest through the day. Whatever the reason, I seem to enjoy them.

“I’m from Dundee and the Dundee derby is slightly different. They are still two big teams, but they are not as big. Through here it is the build-up to it as well and people saying ‘as long as you beat them’. They would rather that you beat their rivals and it is obviously bragging rights with their workmates.

“As a player you don’t want to be part of the team that is being beat in the derby, you want to win it and that means there is more pressure but that’s why you play football, to play in games like this.

“I think I played in three [Dundee derbies] and never won. We drew two and lost one. At Arbroath, the derby is against Montrose and I never got beat. I won every one and hopefully it is the same here. They are obviously not as big but they are actually passionate. The first goal I scored for Arbroath was in a derby against Montrose and I think there were 1,400 people there and that’s not too bad. But it’s not 20,000!”

The early goal meant that Hibs had the vast majority of that crowd in buoyant mood from the get-go and, given the mindset and make-up of their rivals that night, it proved a knockout blow.

“At the time they were struggling for results and they had a couple of young boys who were a bit nervous,” said Murray.

“They are good players but it is obviously different when it is a derby and the game is that important. I kind of had a feeling, that feeling you get sometimes, that you are going to win, and we did.

“But this will be another massive game. They have been on a good wee run recently so we are really looking forward to the derby and it will be my first one at Tynecastle as well.”