BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
JORDON FORSTER missed out on the opportunity to become a Hibs icon due to his Pilgrimage south of the border – so he is determined to lap up every moment of today’s title celebration.
The 23-year-old spent the second half of last season on loan with Plymouth Argyle and, although he succeeded in finding first-team football at Home Park, he endured the bittersweet feeling of watching his mates end their 114-year Scottish Cup hoodoo with a 3-2 win over Rangers.
His stint with the Pilgrims did see him turn out at Wembley in the League two playoff final, however it still stings that he missed out on a day at Hampden which will live in Hibs folklore forever.
Forster said: “It will mean a lot to get my hands on the trophy. Having missed out on the Scottish Cup last year, getting some silverware on Saturday will be a massive achievement for the team and for me personally.
“Watching the boys becoming legends – although I was delighted for them, was hard to take.
“When I signed my contract, I knew this season was going to be tough on a personal level. I’ve always known about the calibration of defender at this club – I think it is superior to anyone in Scotland bar Celtic.
“There are certain games I believe I should have started in, maybe after playing the previous game and winning, but had other ideas. His decisions have been justified by us winning the league and we can all enjoy that now.”
The opportunity to lap up a title party at Easter Road will be all the more satisfying for Forster, given he thought his season was over when he became an unwilling protagonist in the extraordinary touchline brawl against Morton.
The Hibs defender was the man on the end of Kudus Oyenuga’s wild challenge during March’s 0-0 draw, prompting a red card for the Ton striker and sparking an almighty melee which subsequently saw managers Neil Lennon and Jim Duffy land touchline bans. Darren McGregor was also dismissed, albeit that was later rescinded.
He continued: “With what happened against Morton, I thought I’d be out for the season. My shoulder has been really sore – it’s still really sore.
“I saw the tackle coming, which is why I tried to get out of the way. Jumping out of the way is what caused me to rotate so much and land on my shoulder. It was either that or take a really sore one on my right leg. I would rather it be my shoulder than my leg.
“Then I was lying on the floor, saw what seemed like 30 bodies coming towards me! As they were getting closer and closer, I was thinking: “Oh, hold on, where are we going here?”
“Everyone saw what happened next. I just tried to avoid being trampled!”
Asked whether he could be out for revenge when he next faces the Morton man, he laughed: “I’ll remember it. I’ll say that much. I’ll remember the tackle.
“I don’t know if I would get a little black book, but I’ll remember it, I know who it was – I was in a lot of pain for a good few days!”
While Hibs can simply lap up the festivities, the fixture is a massive one at the bottom end of the Championship.
A point for St Mirren will see the Buddies complete a great escape under Jack Ross, but if the Hibees triumph it will open the door for Raith Rovers to survive if they can defeat Ayr United at Stark’s Park.
Ominously for the Fifers, Forster is honest enough to admit that maintaining performance levels with nothing to play for will be a considerable challenge.
He added: “A lot of people say the game takes care of itself, but we’ve won the league and you know you’re getting a trophy at the end of the game. So it’s a challenge within itself to focus on the game. Maybe subconsciously you are going to lose five or ten per cent. That’s when your professionalism needs to kick in. You don’t want to be presented with a trophy after a defeat.”