Martin McConnell was at Wednesday’s post match press conference…
Head Coach Brian Rice and midfielder Scott Martin spoke to the press following the following the dramatic finish at Celtic Park.
How hard was that to take?
“It’s very, very difficult to sit here just now. You know I’ve come from a very angry dressing room where we feel as if we should have taken something from the game. But fair play to Celtic, they’re Champions because they keep going to the final whistle. But I think you saw the team tonight. We were well organised and came here not to sit back, try and get forward like we said and get something from the game. If I take Brian Easton out of the side tonight then the oldest player in the side is 25. So I’m delighted with what I got tonight.”
It’s probably hard at the moment but like you said, there are lots of positives to take from the performance.
“Well yes, there were positives but I’d rather take points. It might seem strange, me sitting here at Celtic Park against the Champions and saying ‘we’re disappointed that we didn’t take anything from the game’, but I think we deserved something for what we put into it. Having a go. On another day and with another couple of decisions going our way, we may have got something.”
You mentioned the decisions there. Do you think there was a foul in the build up to the Celtic winner?
“You’ve asked the question so obviously I think that you think that. I think the general consensus in the dressing room is that there was a push by Leigh on young Stubbs. But listen, I’m not here to talk about referees. It’s done and dusted. Some go for you and some go against you. I just felt as though it went a wee bit against us tonight, that’s all.”
Did you speak to the referee after the game?
“Are you having a laugh? I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to sound cheeky there. Did I speak to the referee after the game? No, I didn’t speak to the referee after the game. I’ve known Alan Muir for a long, long time and I don’t speak to Alan Muir after the game.”
In terms of moving forward. How do you pick the boys up after this? Obviously, do you look at the bigger picture and think that you’ve held the Champions for so long, got the equaliser and played well and almost held them?
“Well, the most important thing for us just now is to get ready for Saturday. Whatever that takes. We need to get ready for Saturday and take tonight’s performance into Saturday. It’s very difficult when you come off the back of an Old Firm game. Normally when you’re coming off the back of an Old Firm game, you’re licking your wounds. But we’re not licking our wounds tonight. There’s one thing that I don’t want to see and I’ve stressed that to them in there, and that’s pity, feeling sorry for ourselves. That’s a wee lesson for us, that’s a wee lesson. Up against the Champions and you’re still going strong in the 93rd, 94th minute. It’s not often that Broony scores a goal. So, I can sit here and say I’m proud of my lads but I’d have liked to have taken something from the game.”
You mentioned the youthfulness of your squad. Is this a learning curve that they can take forward and progress and become better for it?
“I think anytime that you go into an environment or an arena like Celtic Park, it’s a test, it was a test for my young lads tonight. And most of them passed it with flying colours. Now the easy part is to rest on your laurels and the hard bit for me is to go again. That’s why Celtic and Rangers are at the top, because it’s demanded of them that they go again and again and again. So, I’ve got to instil a little of that into my young team. We knew it was going to be a hard season this season but I think gradually we’re improving. We just need to start picking up points here and there, once we do that I think we’ll be okay.”
Scott, are you frustrated with the way that panned out?
“A wee bit, aye. It’s just the way we lost a goal like that when we did. It’s a bit of a kick in the teeth but I think as a group we’ve all got to take the positives and I think we held our own against the best team in Scotland for the full ninety minutes.”
The manager said that it was an angry dressing room. Could you tell if there was a foul in the build up to the goal?
“I don’t know. I don’t know, I just saw the goal go in. It’s not for me to say that. I think we’re more of a disappointed changing room than anything else. As I said, having stuck in there against the Champions and having played football and equalising when we got the chance. Although we’re disappointed, I think that we should be proud of the way we performed tonight.”
Given the way that you played tonight and against Rangers too, do you think the quality of this team will show people what you can really do?
“Aye, I think that a lot of people will think that we’re just Hamilton and we’ve got this kind of stigma attached to us. But I honestly think that we’ve shown over recent games that we can play some football. We do want to add elements of the old and new Hamilton to try and build this improved side. I think that we’ve got a good side and I really enjoy playing in it.”
Does that come from a manager that encourages you to play?
“Aye, he gives you confidence. He doesn’t mind if you make mistakes so when you do attempt and play a ball that’s a bit risky, you sort of know that he’s wanting you to have a go with that pass.”