Experienced Rangers signing insists he is not over the Hill
CLINT HILL said last night that he plans to use David Weir as an example after the veteran defender sealed a one-year contract at Rangers. The 37-year-old centre-half, a former team-mate of Joey Barton’s at Queens Park Rangers, was paraded at Murray Park yesterday after arriving at the club as a free agent.
While he acknowledges his advanced years will be a cause for scepticism, he insists he has been proving people wrong for six years and sees no reason why the club cannot win the title in their first year back in the top flight.
“He [Weir] is definitely an example for me,” said Hill. “If you can get to 41 in professional football then you are definitely doing something right. He was in the same situation as me, an older pro coming to a big club. Maybe his signing was not as exciting as some were. So I will definitely be asking him as the season progresses for more advice.”
Hill’s initial deal is for just 12 months but he sees no reason why he will not be able to extend that. Pre-season begins at Murray Park today. “I hope so,” said Hill. “I never thought I would get to 37, I will be honest with you.
“Of course, there will be doubters, there will be fans asking ‘Why have we done that?’,” he said. “I know I am not the most exciting of signings. But I am here to prove people wrong. I have had to do that at every club I have been at.
“I remember after my first pre-season game at QPR, walking down the road with Shaun Derry — and we were both told (where to go) in no uncertain terms. I managed to stay six years, 180 games and two promotions, and changed a few minds. So hopefully, if I get the chance here, I will do the same. It was only a friendly, that game — my first for the club. And it was QPR fans. It was quite funny, myself and Shaun had just come from Crystal Palace — and we were both told to get back to the Eagles.”
If Hill’s first task is to elbow his way into the Ibrox starting line-up, it is worth mentioning that he does have form for catching his new Rangers team-mate Rob Kiernan with a swinging arm while playing for QPR against Wigan Athletic in a play-off semi-final.
“I have seen Rob today, he was in the changing room earlier,” said Hill. “We shook hands. It is football, you have got to do things to win a game. There was no malice in the challenge from me, I did not mean to connect — and I did apologise straight away.”
Hill, who hails from the same Liverpool suburb of Huyton as Barton, is a huge admirer of the midfielder. While he has offered his services as a coach with academy players, his arrival is primarily as a player. He has never attended an Old Firm game — but has seen plenty on the television. We are from the same neck of the woods but we probably got to know each other a bit more when he came to QPR,” said Hill. “We spent a turbulent four years there together, while I was there for six. I respect him massively, not just as a player but as a person and a friend. It is too strong to say we ran the dressing room but I would rather have Joey Barton on my team than against me, to be honest with you.
“I am not coming up here for a holiday. I would have chosen a different option if I wanted that. You cannot come to Glasgow Rangers and expect an easy ride. You need to be on the ball every day, in training and even in the street. You need to be professional. And, more importantly, you need to win games of football — because that is what the history of this club is built on, winning trophies.”
Hill forms part of a backbone of golden oldies at Ibrox — and Mark Hateley reckons their services can help Mark Warburton’s side deliver silverware this term. Hill, 37, Barton, 33, and Kenny Miller, 36, may soon be joined by 31-year-old Croatian playmaker Niko Kranjcar — and Hateley reckons this veteran spine can give the club backbone. “If you look at all successful teams then they have strength and knowledge through the spine,” said Hateley. “You cannot always rely on the coach or manager to solve the problems. It is easier to fix with experience.”
HOLDING UP: Former Queens Park Rangers defender Clint Hill, 37, is following the lead of assistant manager Davie Weir