Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Leigh Griffiths: A Sorry Saga



"Sheer stupidity."

Maybe Leigh Griffiths had been fed that line in the bizarre public apology issued by Hibs today.

But it's pretty much bang on the money as a description of his behaviour in the past few weeks.

Gesturing Griffiths, the daftest laddie in the whole of Leith.

That might be unfair. But he got away with a gesture to the St Johnstone fans in Hibs' 3-2 win earlier in the season. He got a one game ban for a gesture in the defeat to Rangers. He got a one game ban for a gesture - to his own fans - in the win at Cowdenbeath.

Few are the occasions when it's a good idea to flick your own fans the "middles" but it seems even more foolhardy to do it when you're developing a reputation for a lack of gesticular subtlety.

So it's another two game ban. And the donning of his best hoodie for the kind of bizarre public apology championed by Tiger Woods, a move that hardly dispels the idea of Hibs as a footballing soap opera of late.

Bizarre might be a good thing though. Stupidity is the last thing Pat Fenlon needs as he plots Hibs' survival. Whatever the coaching staff said to Griffiths failed. Using YouTube like modern-day stocks, delivering public humiliation, might work.

Hibs will hope so.

Griffiths is only a loan player. His disciplinary record might not make him worth the hassle in other circumstances.

But Hibs are in a dark place. They need players with talent and they need players with confidence.

Griffiths has both. The former might be sporadic and the latter buttressed by bouts of petulance but he delivers something that Hibs lack.

One point ahead of bottom placed Dunfermline, and with transfer window business neither quick nor revolutionary, Hibs need all the help they can get.

The rub is that Leigh Griffiths is of no use sat in the stand.

Nor is being seen to indulge his player the sort of message Fenlon - who is surely aware of the murmurs of disciplinary disapproval that have swirled round Easter Road for a few seasons - will want to send out, particularly when public warnings have previously been issued for exactly the same transgressions.

As Griffiths correctly points out he's become a player that opposing fans make much merriment out of disliking. But every reaction will only make the abuse louder, every tabloid splash on domestic disharmony will only encourage supporters to goad him into a reaction before screaming blue murder at what an offensive, rude little man he is.

That's the footballer's life. Maybe more so for a player with a reliance on a certain cockiness.

Griffiths needs to learn. He's quick to say how happy he is at Hibs, his childhood club. But he's a Wolves player, he's already won his lucrative move to the land of opportunity.

There's talent and potential there that deserves a bigger stage than the 11th best club in the SPL can offer.

If his career progresses - which might depend on him sorting his head out as much as anything else - he'll face bigger matches, bigger crowds, bigger volleys of vitriol from the stands.

He's made an idiot of himself in recent weeks, he's taken the piss out of his manager and he's damaged the club he professes to love.

That's very far from being ideal.

Now it's up to Griffiths to prove that it's also very far from being a period of career defining foolhardiness.

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