Hibs fans were treated to something of a rarity during their Ladbrokes Championship victory over Alloa – a shot from midfielder Marvin Bartley.
So rare, in fact, that Bartley later tweeted it was his first for three years. He did, however, do himself something of a disservice in that he actually scored for Leyton Orient, his last club, ten months ago. But he was right in admitting his entire career’s goals tally would probably be in single figures, just nine in 264 appearances.
Such a statistic, though, doesn’t concern the 29-year-old in the slightest, he’s more than happy to let others take the glory while he concentrates on the less glamorous side of the game, a role which largely goes unrecognised – but not by boss Alan Stubbs. “You have to appreciate people’s strengths,” said the head coach. “In all honesty Marvin’s strength is not hitting the target from 25 yards, his strengths are doing the nitty-gritty bits for the team that give the more technical players the platform to build on.
“He is invaluable. He is one of those that do the job people do not realise at times is important for the team, but I do. He is a player that goes under the radar all the time. There will be times when he has put in a man-of-the-match performance but a more stylish player will potentially get it.
“That’s not right, but that’s the way it is. But it doesn’t go unnoticed by me.”
And that, Bartley insisted, was recognition enough for him. He said: “The manager has asked me to do that for the team and I am happy to. I’m not really looking to be a glory hunter, I’ll let the other lads do that. It doesn’t really interest me so I’ll let the strikers get on with it.
“I’ll pat them on the back as long as we win – and if we don’t I’ll be on at them. I’m more than happy to sit back and clean things up and let guys like Jason [Cummings] get the goals. They can have the glory. We win as a team and lose as a team, so that doesn’t matter to me.”
Nevertheless, Bartley revealed his strike against the Wasps had resulted in some good-natured banter from his team-mates, the “slaughtering” continuing as he conducted this interview with frequent interruptions from the changing room jokers but, he insisted, it was simply indicative of the “togetherness” of Stubbs’ squad.
He said: “The shot was on target, so I celebrated as if it was a goal. It was a bit of a rarity. I had some banter with the boys after because we had done some shooting in training and I wasn’t too bad. It was a similar scenario so they said they expected me to put it in.
“There is good banter but the same boys slaughtering me are the ones I pin down in the changing room. I’ve actually got a video of it so if they keep going I’ll upload it to Twitter and you can have a look. There’s only one boss in that changing room and it’s none of them.”
On a more serious note he added: “There are some very good players in the building and when everyone is fit there will be a few in the stand. But we’re all pulling the same direction, the manager has brought a good group together.
“I have been in changing rooms where I’ve had the best team but the togetherness wasn’t there and it went the wrong way. But here everyone is pulling in the same direction, there is competition for places but it’s healthy.
“The manager does his research to try and bring together a similar bunch and he’s done very well to do that because he’s got some good players and off the pitch we all get on.”
Admitting he’d found life in Edinburgh difficult initially having missed pre-season, Bartley believes the rewards for the work he and the squad have put in are starting to appear.
He said: “I have been trying to get up to speed and I have been doing a lot of work. I’ve enjoyed it and the football has been perfect. We have had three clean sheets now but that comes from the whole team, we defend from the front. Defending has been something we have concentrated on a lot and long may that continue.”
While adamant he’s not interested in the endeavours of Championship leaders Rangers, Bartley admitted that, having lost the opening game to Dumbarton before going down narrowly at Ibrox, he and his team-mates can’t afford many more slip-ups.
“We’ll just get on with our business. We believe in ourselves. I don’t look at Rangers’ results, I don’t care how they get on.
“All we are doing is trying to win every game and if we do that we’ll win the league.
If we slip up and they keep winning we’re not going to catch them and we know that. But if you start looking at other teams then you slip up yourself and then you have a problem.”