THERE would have been the thrill of the new for Hibernian supporters had they heard latest signing Fraser Fyvie conduct his first press duties since signing a six-month deal with their club earlier this week. The 21-year-old could make his debut in today’s Scottish Cup tie at home to Arbroath. Cue the former Wigan midfielder being asked about that cup record. Cue Fyvie screwing up his face and giving a reply along the lines of what cup record. Here is a Leith club performer unburdened by history. Except, that is, his own.
Fyvie seems more than a little prickly over the “where did it all go wrong” line of enquiry begged by his return to a Scotland that he left as “the next big thing” – a term used by Hibs assistant and former Wigan coach John Doolan this week in discussing a player he knew well at the Lancashire club.
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Yet, at 16, he became the youngest player to appear in the Aberdeen senior side and then Wigan manager Roberto Martinez was in no doubt he had bagged himself another ‘Scottish’ gem in the mould of James McCarthy, James McArthur and Shaun Maloney when he plucked him from Pittodrie in the summer of 2012. Fyvie’s problem was that he was only under Martinez’s tutelage for a season – at the end of which he sat on the substitute’s bench as the club lifted the FA Cup before then dropping out of the English top flight. Under first Owen Coyle and then Uwe Rosler, Fyvie dropped out of view at Wigan. It perhaps typified his time at the club that his last appearance – following loan spells with Shrewsbury Town and Yeovil Town – came in August’s League Cup defeat at the home of League Two side Burton Albion. In the course of three seasons, Fyvie only made one league outing for a club now under the charge of Malky Mackay and bottom of the Championship. Yet he isn’t willing to see the experience in rueful terms.
“Of course I would have liked more games, that’s part of the reason I left the club,” he said. “I need to get back playing football again, that’s what I love doing. I hope I can try to force my way into the first eleven here because I haven’t played many senior games recently.
“The first year there was great, apart from the club being relegated from the Premier League. Working under Roberto Martinez and learning from him was a great experience. The next year wasn’t so enjoyable, I wasn’t involved as much as I would have liked to have been. But that happens to a lot of players and now I just want to get started with Hibs.
“It was a huge learning curve for me playing with guys like Shaun Maloney and Gary Caldwell, James McArthur and James McCarthy, all good pros and good players. A lot of players left the club during the window but there isn’t much I can say about that.
“I just wish Wigan all the best and hope they stay in the Championship. There are a lot of good lads down there and I hope they do well.”
If Fyvie’s professional development in England could be questioned, he is in no doubt about his personal growth through the move.
“I think my time there has improved me as a player but more so as a person,” he said. “I learned a lot. It was the first time I had been away from home, I had my first son.
“And having to deal with that away from home with my partner helped me learn a lot. I have to say I enjoyed it.”
Now he is seeking to follow the Scott Allan template and make good on genuine early promise in Scotland through having his confidence rebuilt by Alan Stubbs at Hibs following a sobering, and maturing, spell as an outlander in English football.
“I am well aware of what Scott has done in the last six months, and, of course, Scott’s example is the one I would like to follow,” he said. “I’ll be trying to do the same thing to help the team.
“The manager didn’t have to say a lot to me. He just told me he wants to give me a chance to start playing football again and that base is there for me. Scott has come up here, he’s taken him under his wing and he has flourished up here. I am just looking forward to getting started now.”