Hibs: Ivan Sproule – Roadrunner once…Roadrunner twice
Sometimes it’s illuminating to look back. I found the below article that I wrote a few years ago on an early website that I created around that time. It’s now floating around in cyberspace.
The article concerns Hibs’ Ivan Sproule who had just broken through into the side at the time after being brought into the fold by then manager, Tony Mowbray. History records that the likeable Irishman moved on the Bristol City where he exclaimed that his blood ‘would always run green’ referring to his happy time at Hibs. Ivan was eventually transferred back to Easter Road.
In the sport of boxing there is a saying ‘never go back’. I’ll let the reader judge whether Ivan’s return was a success and if Ivan achieved his potential in his career. One thing I dare say, there will always be a little place in most Hibs fans hearts for Ivan and his expressed affection for the Hibs.
Roadrunner once…Roadrunner twice
Ivan Sproule! The name on every Hibee’s lips of late. The young Ulsterman is currently cutting a swathe through every defence that trembles in his way to goal, and what excitement he is creating for the Hibs support!
The twenty-four year old former engineer, presently staking a late claim for first-class football with the Hibs is the talk of the SPL it seems so let’s take a look at this emergent talent and examine if there is a likelihood of longevity of his recent exploits.
There have been many players in the game previously with huge pace and not a little trickery combined that have come along and taken a club and its league by storm and Ivan Sproule is but the latest in a long line of such players. Please make no mistake however, that is not to denigrate the young Irishman’s fine achievements over the past few weeks. Suddenly after only four recent games as a substitute it appears that Ivan’s fledgling professional career is about to explode into outer space – beware however, there are several precedents for failure.
Of course it might be said that the reason previous similar players have fallen by the wayside might be due parlty to the huge expectancy placed upon the shoulders of every footballer of this kind. It becomes almost a ‘right’ of the crowd to expect that every time the ball reaches such a player’s fast feet, fireworks should occur.
I sometimes muse that the game’s defenders aren’t given their rightful credit at times. How many times have we seen a young ‘wonder boy’ to coin a phrase, have an amazing initial season only to be found out and worked out by the defenders that now have the experience of dealing with this not-quite-so-new threat? Yes defenders do actually talk to each other at times despite contrary opinion, they chat about which way a player tends to move, whether he has a right foot roll, his pet tricks and all. It’s their job, it pays their mortgage.
Reading this, you may suppose I’m putting rather a dampener on Ivan’s recent crusade to entertain the Hibernian faithful and what’s more make a name for himself. Not so. This boy by all accounts has something special, he has blinding pace and we all know that the modern game revolves around that quality. Speed disorientates in sport. Sometimes we see a footballer or other sportsman deceive the opposition but at a pace that the defender has time to recover. The same trickery performed at pace however can be murderous and extremely incisive.
From the little footage I have been able to observe of Ivan Sproule he also possesses an even more unique skill than one to run like the wind, that of direct running, now this IS a rare commodity in today’s game and for me will be, if anything, the pivotal ability that projects Ivan into a hugely successful career. We think back to players like Paul Gascoigne and Stan Collymore who I had the pleasure of watching a few times. These players were dynamic for many reasons but the primary one was that they ran directly at defenders. Try and find a defender that enjoys being tested in this way – they’re rare indeed. What’s more, it’s terrific for us fans to watch, opening up the game and dictating the tempo the way it does. Note again however the two temperamental individuals concerned here. A psychologist’s conundrum the pair of them.
The next stage for the young Irish forward will be in actually establishing himself in the first team! In all the excitement, perhaps some of us are forgetting that his recent deeds have all been as a substitute. Sometimes it’s difficult for a substitute to come on to the field and contribute meaningfully during the hurly-burly of the game, at other times the stage is set for a Sproule to dictate the outcome – just as he did so devastatingly at Ibrox recently. I’m sure the issue of a regular peg in the first team dressing room is the only one in Ivan Sproule’s mind at the moment, encouraged by manager Tony Mowbray.
Time will tell if Ivan Sproule will be a five-minute wonder. My considered opinion is that he will succeed as a good honest pro. For one reason, he has a hunger for the game, he plays as though he’s in the last chance saloon to impress, perhaps indeed he is as a player coming into the professional game at a mature age. In the meanwhile Hibernian will hopefully reap the benefit.
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