Joe Lewis has never known a more turbulent time at Pittodrie, but with the ‘Aberdeen Eight’ now in the clear the Dons skipper is hoping it will be plain sailing from here on in.
Things in the Granite City were bad enough in the wake of the decision to reimpose a local lockdown without a group of Derek McInnes’ players breaching coronavirus protocols.
A wave of criticism crashed down on the Dons culprits as politicians, fans and pundits lined up to take a swipe, with the club left playing catch up after seeing three games postponed.
Thankfully for McInnes, Hampden disciplinary chiefs have shown mercy on Jonny Hayes, Scott McKenna, Sam Cosgrove, Craig Bryson, Bruce Anderson, Dylan McGeouch, Matty Kennedy and Michael Devlin after deciding to issue each only a suspended three-match ban.
Now with the storm clouds clearing, Lewis is hoping his side can chart a route to calmer waters as they look to build on three straight wins when they take on Hibernian at Easter Road on Sunday.
The Reds goalkeeper said: “It’s been the most turbulent time for every football club in the world so we’re not too different.
“Obviously the issue we had a few weeks ago with the eight boys clearly didn’t help. The lads made a mistake and it was a mistake. There was no malice involved, they are all good lads.
“Yes they’ve brought a lot of attention to themselves and they’ve had to isolate for a couple of weeks.
“There’s been a lot of criticism from all parts. Without making them out to be the victims, they’ve been through a tough time. They do regret it and wish it hadn’t happened.
“They are not the victims of this, they made a mistake but they’ve been vilified and criticised a lot.
“The (verdict) is the last little bit. We feel like we have got past this whole episode now.
“It’s been a difficult situation but the lads have shown good mentality and professionalism since they came back.
“It’s been a tough time for the club but certainly the last three games have helped to get people talking about what we actually do for a living, which is playing football.
“We felt it was important to get some wins and some positivity around the club again.
“We’re trying to draw a line under it and move on. Hopefully we can have as many of them as possible available on Sunday.”
Aberdeen have been regular challengers for Scottish football’s ‘best of the rest’ tag since McInnes took over seven years ago – but this season it is Hibernian who have taken the fight to the Old Firm as they sit joint top of the table five games in.
Lewis said: “It’s very early in the season and the league table takes a while to even out. People have good starts, others have poor starts.
“Certainly Hibs will be looking to challenge us at the top end of the table so this will be a big game.
“They have started very well and have some good players. It’s going to be a test, that’s for sure. It’s not going to make or break either team’s season.
“Hibs are in good form but we are too. We’re confident going into the game.”
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