Being fortunate enough to have made a trip to the ‘Burgh for the past few days I took the opportunity offered by a friend for an early morning visit to the new Hibernian FC training centre at East Mains.
On a mostly deserted Saturday morning before 9pm it takes the use of the imagination to envisage a day’s hard work being put in by the playing staff from Easter Road at East Mains but still the centre remains extremely impressive. The only sign of life was a tractor pulling a gang mower in the far distance (thankfully) as we pondered this new and vital facility for Hibs’ future.
How archaic is Scottish and British football generally when we are informed how very few clubs own such a training centre? It’s said that the majority of top clubs in France for example train in such circumstances. With some of the success the French have had in recent years we can see that this is perhaps no coincidence.
The centre sports some of the lushest, greenest new turf I’ve seen in a while. Around the main buildings, the turves are currently still knitting together at this time and infant saplings have been planted to surround the playing areas and offer an eventual windbreak in what look to be potentially fairly windswept conditions.
Inside the main premises a large indoor pitch is visible, additionally there are gyms packed with new equipment. It’s difficult to imagine how the full array of facilities which are available at East Mains will not benefit the football club greatly. Apart from the more obvious advantages which take the Hibs players away from minibus rides to local public parks and into the modern era, such a working environment has to be something of a draw in attracting new players to the club. What professional footballer wouldn’t be happy to perform his job of work daily in such an environment?
An inauspicious sight maybe but will millions of pounds of Hibs talent be nurtured behind those shuttered doors?
At a time when there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth emanating from the Hibs support due to lack of investment in the playing squad (some of it well-justified it could be argued) it was refreshing to see at first hand the great progress the club is making at least in this area together with the proposed new East Stand. The latter two developments will stand in testament to some forward thinking planning by the club in the decades to come. All we need now is to see a little perspective from the Hibernian board in offering more balance in the way in which the clubs finances are expended. It should always be remembered that constructions and acquisitions such as East Mains and the new East stand are only ever in put place to service what happens the other side of the white lines on a Saturday afternoon.