BY DARREN JOHNSTONE – Capital City Press
Hibs head coach Alan Stubbs has revealed how his squad went to war with each other this week to strengthen what he believes is already a unwavering bond between his band of brothers.
As a player at Celtic, Stubbs was a firm believer in the motto that ‘the team that drinks together wins together’.
But instead of heading to the pub, the Hibs coaching staff and players faced each other on the paintball battlefield on Tuesday, before enjoying a meal together in the evening.
Stubbs knows that football has moved on from his era when he used to join his Celtic team-mates for a weekly session in their local.
But the Englishman still thinks the foundation for success on the pitch can be built off it.
Tomorrow’s visit of Dumbarton marks the start of what could be a season-defining period of games that includes top four Championship clashes with Falkirk, Raith Rovers and leaders Rangers.
And Stubbs insists they are in great shape on and off the pitch.
He said: “They get on really, really well as individuals and as a group.
“They seem to have a real bond and they seem to like each other’s company – I’m not entirely sure why.
“But we went to do something on Tuesday all together and then at night time we all went for a meal, and that tells you where we are as a club.
“There has to be a good feel to everything you do. You don’t win anything by not having a camaraderie off the pitch, as well as on it.
“I was all for the paintballing and one or two of them might have wanted to hit me more than others, but my overalls were all clean – that’s not a bad sign.
“It was open to everybody at the training centre and the invitation was also to one or two from Easter Road but they chickened out of it. Then we went into town for a meal together.
“It wasn’t a late night – it was socialising together, not drinking and they were all away by ten to nine.”
Stubbs won two league titles and two League Cups during his five years at Celtic before heading to Everton in 2001.
A close-knit spirit in the dressing room was fostered by their weekly trip to the pub but the 44-year-old admits that modern day footballers would be found out if they over-indulged in alcohol.
He added: “You have to be, first and foremost, ultra professional now.
“They days before me and in my time at Celtic, we were out every Tuesday.
“But I’ve got to say that for that group of players and as a means of bringing us together on the pitch as well as off it, it was great.
“But the game has moved on , it really has. It has become faster, you have to be stronger and the players are educated more on having the right lifestyle.
“If they do there is every chance they could play a bit longer so the parameters have changed.”
Stubbs admits his desire to maintain a happy environment at the Easter Road club could see them having more bonding days that will involve the players’ partners.
He added: “Everybody went and they all had good fun, and you know they had good fun when they are still talking about it a couple of days later.
“It was a good exercise for everybody and one we will look to do again over the coming months.
“I do like to bring a family feel to everything and I will try to do one for the players and wives but that probably won’t be paintballing.
“Maybe we will all have a meal together, I don’t think some of the wives would appreciate players shooting at them.”