When we think back to the summer transfer window, the signing of Clint Hill wasn’t one that got anyone’s juices flowing.
It’s easy to recall his first press conference as a Rangers player. Smartly dressed, of course, but he looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights, a man with vast amounts of experience south of the border, but a man who had no idea what he had signed up for. In fact, he was almost in complete shock at the media attention he was receiving. It wouldn’t be unfair to suggest that he was almost as flabbergasted to be at Rangers as the fans were that Mark Warburton had signed a 37-year-old centre-half.
After a woeful start, particularly his lacklustre performance during the 1-1 draw at Kilmarnock, many supporters had written him off, maybe mainly due to his age, but when you see someone get beaten by Kris Boyd – who isn’t exactly Usain Bolt – in a footrace it doesn’t fill you with much confidence.
However, credit to Hill – he has turned around his less-than-impressive initiation period in a Rangers shirt. Now at 38 years old, he has made himself a stalwart of the current side and he has become quite the cult hero amongst the support. He has shown tremendous leadership qualities, especially when it comes to helping Danny Wilson and Rob Kiernan through certain matches. It comes as no surprise that both Kiernan and Wilson’s best performances this season have come when they have been playing next to Hill rather than partnering each other – his calming influence and communication skill and most importantly his know-how of the game has helped both of them in recent performances. He is the leader in defence. When Wilson and Kiernan play together, as part of a two, they look lost, they seem to have no idea who is taking control of any situation, so Hill’s presence not only helps them but it helps the rest of the team and it also helps to calm the nerves of the fans in the stands.
Furthermore, he has been a solid performer in the bigger games. In the recent Old Firm matches, he has been excellent. Not only did he score the equaliser in the most recent of the three fixtures, his defensive work was outstanding in all of those matches – he limited Moussa Dembele to very little and kept the defence organised.
It’s not only his defensive work that has caught the eye. His six goals have certainly brought some pleasure to the fans. None more so than his equaliser at Parkhead just a few weeks ago.
But the real question is: at 38, should Hill be given an extension to his current contract?
Personally, I would keep him at the club but only to be a squad player. His experience is invaluable and he will have had one season under his belt at the club. He has a touch of the Davie Weirs about him, in the fact that it looks like he could continue to play forever.
His legs certainly do not look as if they are going to ‘pack in’ on him so if I was Pedro Caixinha, I would be talking to Hill about extending his contract for another year. I think the fans appreciate his old-school type defending: put your body on the line, put your head where it can get hurt and give everything for the cause. I certainly am one who enjoys Hill’s no-thrills approach to his defensive work.
The fact that is even being discussed as an option is a big credit to Hill’s mentality and professionalism. But again, it shines a big bright light on how poor the summer recruitment was. Out of 11 players signed, a man who essentially was brought in to be a squad player has proven himself to be the best signing of the summer and, in my opinion, he should win Rangers’ own Player of the Year award – that accolade would be well deserved and hopefully it will come with the added bonus of a new deal.