Hibs saved me from football scrapheap, says Martin Boyle

Martin Boyle feared he could end up on the football scrap-heap when his initial loan stint at Hibs ended with him in a hospital bed.

Hibernian's Martin Boyle. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS
Hibernian's Martin Boyle. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS

The subsequent show of faith in him by the capital club, and Alan Stubbs, is something the 24-year-old will never stop trying to repay.

Boyle arrived on a six-month loan deal from Dundee in January 2015 but suffered a major knee injury in the final Championship match of the season against Falkirk, leaving him sidelined for the subsequent play-off matches against Rangers.

Moreover, scans showed that an operation would be required that summer and, with his contract at Dundee expired and Hibs under no obligation to sign him, Boyle was in limbo and was concerned that a return to part-time football – or worse – may beckon.

However, ex-boss Alan Stubbs agreed to sign the winger on a permanent deal and Hibs paid for the surgery.

Boyle has not looked back. Two years later, with Scottish Cup and Championship winners’ medals on his mantelpiece, he still owes a debt of gratitude to the club and did not hesitate in committing to a new contract until 2021 last week.

“The way my injury happened, and the fact I was out of contract, meant it was all up in the air,” Boyle recalled. “It was a long summer for myself but thankfully Hibs decided to pay for my operation, get that done and take a chance on me.

“Hopefully I have been repaying them because it was a really good show of faith in me at the time.

“I could have been out of the game or back to part-time football, being left to pay for my own operation – it could have been anything. I do not know what would have happened. But I had a meeting with Alan Stubbs, he had the trust in me and we got it done.”

Boyle is no stranger to a day job, after all.

When he was on the books of Montrose he used to combine his playing commitments with delivering packages alongside his mother, Sheila, so he was in no rush to return to that gruelling balancing act.

“I was at college doing my HNC in sports fitness before I went full-time,” said Boyle. “My mum works as a delivery driver so I was just tagging along with her, just getting by with a bit of money on the side.

“I played with [current Hibs striker] Simon Murray at Montrose, he had a job as well – so to look back and see where we are now it’s a bit of an eye-opener.

“It was a busy time. She just drove about but I had to run to the doors. It was a nightmare! It kept me fit but I was knackered going into training at night.”

And Boyle, who is now one of the first names on Neil Lennon’s team-sheet as the Hibees eye a place in Europe, will never take his rise for granted.

“It’s kind of weird, from where I started in the game, to now playing in the Premiership,” he smiled. “It’s really positive and I just want to make my family proud, keep learning and become a better player. I am very grateful for where I am now.”