WHATEVER Scottish football lacks in quality it tends to make up for with oodles of unscripted entertainment.
Anyone compiling an alternative review of the season in the coming weeks will not be short of material: Mark McGhee’s candid camera moment at Pittodrie, Jim Duffy making it clear “he’s not 12 years old” after the Easter Road square-go with Neil Lennon, and Rod Stewart looking more like a squiffy Rod Hull with an invisible Emu on his arm as he conducted the Scottish Cup draw. And now this week we had the slightly discombobulating debut appearance of Cumdog.
Perhaps it is a good thing that whatever happens in football dressing rooms usually stays there but it was a different story earlier in this week when Jason Cummings, the Hibernian striker, unveiled his wrestling alter-ego, the afore-mentioned Cumdog. Dressed only in his pants, a headband, a football sock on one arm and a pair of trainers, Cummings strutted into the canteen at the Hibs training ground to find Scots wrestler Grado tucking into a bowl of soup.
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With his every move caught on film and soon disseminated over social media, Cummings was seen grappling gamely with Grado, lifting him upside down, before leaping off a sideboard to pin his opponent to a sofa. And all this with Cummings seemingly recovering from a back injury. It was quite the spectacle.
Luckily his manager saw the funny side of it. With Hibs having clinched the Championship title a few days earlier, there has been undoubtedly greater levity in the air this week as they continue their preparations for tomorrow’s William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen.
Cummings is the latest in a line of daft Edinburgh laddies who have turned out for Hibs but Lennon, never one to suffer fools gladly, does not have a problem with that giddy boisterousness as long as it does not start to influence Cummings’ capabilities on the field. Twenty-one goals for the season to date suggests it is not.
“It was absolutely brilliant,” confirmed Lennon, while revealing his favourite wrestler to be “Bad News” Barrett. “Grado was up doing some filming for charity and Jason was actually getting treatment for his back. When he realised Grado was up, him and Dylan [McGeouch] were like big kids in the playground.
“They conducted this little routine and I didn’t realise how good it was going to be. I think it epitomises Jason. There are not enough personalities in the game and he’s all personality. It’s all harmless with him. Allied to that he’s a good footballer as well and I would not change anything about him. I think the fact it became so popular [on Twitter], you realise his sense of humour that he has. The lads love him and we’ve got a good squad, a good spirit and we’ll need all of that on Saturday.
“He’s good for the game and I think that’s the type of boys we are looking for. You don’t want ALL of them to be like that! But we could certainly do with a few more. He’s a wee bit gallus but not rude or arrogant in any way. He’s just an unconscious comedian.”
Some of Cummings’ predecessors have not always made the most of their talent but Lennon is confident the 21 year-old will stay on the right path.
“There have been a few [daft lads at Hibs] but I don’t want him going down the road of [Garry] O’Connor or [Derek] Riordan,” added Lennon. “I want him to look at [Scott] Brown, [Steven] Whittaker and the Kevin Thomsons of this world and have a career at a prolonged level. Through all the bluster he’s actually quite a down to earth, smart boy. And I think he knows what he wants out of his career so I hope he stays on the right track.
“Listen, he’s a good pro. He doesn’t miss training, he trains every day. He doesn’t skip out of anything, he never pulls a sickie. He comes in every day and he wants to work, he wants to get better.
“He knows he’s got something, and he’s quite cold. He sees the white in the goalkeeper’s eyes and nine times out of 10 he scores. So there is intelligence in there somewhere.
“At times you think he looks clumsy or a little bit unorthodox. The next thing he bends one into the top corner. Or the goal he scored the other week at Morton where he’s at an angle and he sits the goalkeeper down, that’s ability, that’s composure, and he has got that. And he has proved that for the last three seasons.”
Lennon saw the desire coursing through Cummings when he rested his striker for a spell earlier in the season.
“I dropped him at one stage and we played really well and scored lots of goals. And I think he was sitting on the outside looking in, thinking, “I don’t want to be sat here”.
“But he never came knocking on my door, he just got on with his training. And when the opportunity came he took it. He just went on a really good run of scoring consistently. And he has scored in some really big games, scored really important goals. So he has been priceless to us in how we have gone about things this year. And I want him to continue. The season is not over. We want him to have a big say on Saturday as well.”