Ian Murray to get testimonial despite break in his service

HIBERNIAN man and boy, Ian Murray yesterday reflected on the news that he has been awarded a testimonial season with the club.

• Hibs stalwart Ian Murray helped launch the new home strip in the club shop yesterday. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The 30-year-old club skipper has been recognised for his services in the green and white jersey and he joins a select band of players to have been handed such an honour with Hibs.

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Among them are Pat Stanton and Gordon Smith, and even they could not claim to have been one-club men.

Murray, too, has been tempted by the lure of a fresh environment, first at Rangers and then at Norwich. But he returned to the place he considers home in 2008, originally on loan from Carrow Road.

"I think eight or nine Hibs players have had it in the past," he said. "It's not just a personal achievement, but also I have to recognise players I haver played with in the past and families who have helped me.

"It didn't cross my mind until maybe last year. When I first came back I only signed a six-month contract and that was with a view to getting another one. That was my first concern.

"But I always believed I had it within me to be here until now - and beyond. It's a great achievement. I would be lying if I said I thought about it when I was 26 or 27. But last year it dawned on me that I had done ten years' service."

He can not yet be so forthcoming on the identity of the opponents his testimonial committee are looking to secure for the game which will form the centrepiece of the celebrations.As well as Hibernian, Murray has an affection for Arsenal, but the early start to the new Scottish Premier League season could scupper thoughts of Hibernian entertaining English Premier League opposition.

"There's something we are trying to work on which would be fantastic," said Murray. "Not everyone might see it as being fantastic, but personally it excites me. There's a lot to consider.

"It makes it hard because the season starts earlier this season," he added. "It puts a lot of English teams out of the equation. I imagine it will be early on. There are not too many dates available and obviously Hibs have their own schedule in place."

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A central purpose of a testimonial season is to raise money for charity and this, too, is causing Murray a headache, in the best possible way. "There are so many charities I'd like to give to," he said. "Every day I think of something else. The Hibs Foundation will obviously feature heavily, and there are one or two close to myself who I want to give to."

Murray acknowledged that the welfare of Hibs is also of utmost importance as he launched the new home strip in the club shop yesterday. A tenth-place finish was not what had been expected at the start of last season. Rivals Hearts have already stolen a march on their neighbours ahead of the new campaign, having unveiled three new signings. "They have moved pretty early," agreed Murray. "Their gaffer must be wanting a peaceful holiday. They are all moving to a bigger club in Hearts than where they were previously, in my opinion. But we all know it does not guarantee success. We will have to wait and see."

Hibs have not been inactive in the transfer marker; Ivan Sproule has been lured back to Easter Road from Bristol City. "We got in there early, which is a good thing," said Murray, who played only briefly with Sproule at Easter Road during their first spells at the club. "According to someone I was speaking to recently, he has not lost much of his pace - if any. He is older now and wiser and his game will have developed down south. I don't think we'll see the Ivan of old - I think he will be wiser and more clever."

With Sproule on board, and, he hopes, the addition of one or two older, experienced players, Murray believes Hibs can aim for third place.

"We'll all be going for it," he said, with reference to the likes of Hearts, Aberdeen, Dundee United and Motherwell. "But equally, we (Hibs] know we can finish tenth, because we did. We know if we don't apply ourselves that can happen again. We need to be cautious in what we do and what we say."

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