Ian Murray: Raith Rovers 'interested' in signing departing Hibs legends Lewis Stevenson and Paul Hanlon

​Hibs legends Hanlon (left) and Stevenson are leaving after a combined 34 years at Easter Road​Hibs legends Hanlon (left) and Stevenson are leaving after a combined 34 years at Easter Road
​Hibs legends Hanlon (left) and Stevenson are leaving after a combined 34 years at Easter Road
With Hibernian legends Lewis Stevenson and Paul Hanlon announcing they are quitting Easter Road after 18 and 16 years respectively, Raith Rovers boss Ian Murray has been strongly linked with a summer move for one or both of the pair.

But Murray, 43, a former Hibees team-mate of the duo, thinks the Stark’s Park side could face considerable competition to sign Kirkcaldy-born Stevenson, 36, a Raith supporter, and his long-time defensive buddy Hanlon, 34.

Murray told the Fife Free Press: "I think with any players of their quality and experience and how good they are as professionals, we are always going to be interested.

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"But I would imagine that there will be a lot of teams looking at that and thinking the same as us.

Raith Rovers manager Ian Murray reckons club could face big fight if they tried to sign Lewis Stevenson and Paul Hanlon (Pic by Ewan Bootman/SNS Group)Raith Rovers manager Ian Murray reckons club could face big fight if they tried to sign Lewis Stevenson and Paul Hanlon (Pic by Ewan Bootman/SNS Group)
Raith Rovers manager Ian Murray reckons club could face big fight if they tried to sign Lewis Stevenson and Paul Hanlon (Pic by Ewan Bootman/SNS Group)

"They are two really good lads, two good players as well.

"Obviously Lewis is Kirkcaldy-born and a Raith Rovers supporter so people put two and two together and get five.

"But we would like to think that if it was a Championship team or level that were looking at, then we would have a chance.

"I think pretty much all of the Scottish Championship teams will be on alert.

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"You've got good sides in there. Obviously Scott Brown at Ayr United knows them really well and there are also teams like Partick Thistle and - if they keep their status - Inverness.

"Then you've got your Queen's Parks of the world. It's kind of the same for all players, the Championship is probably the hardest market I think in Scotland.

"We're all kind of there or thereabouts with budgets and we're all kind of there or thereabouts on what football players are available.

"So it's really, really hard. I would imagine they'll have a few teams circling them at the moment.”

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Murray also paid tribute to the incredible impact Stevenson and Hanlon have had during their long periods at Hibs, with one club man Stevenson making 583 first team appearances since 2006 and Hanlon – who had a short loan spell at St Johnstone in the 2008-09 campaign – turning out 559 times since 2008.

"It's been amazing,” the boss added. “Obviously I was coming towards the end of my playing career when Paul and Lewis were coming through.

"First and foremost they are fantastic guys with 100% professionalism.

"No matter what anybody thinks about them, that's one thing that's a definite.

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"They give you everything, great team-mates. You don't go 16 and 18 years and rack up over 1,100 appearances without having that.

"They were part of a Hibs team that won the Scottish Cup and obviously Lewis has won the League Cup as well.

"So it's a fantastic return, they deserve all the plaudits they get.

"Both in my opinion are really good players, really cultured players. Unusually they are both left footed and there's not many going about these days.

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"As sad as it is for them and the Hibs supporters, unfortunately good things come to an end.

"But there's no doubt that they've given a tremendous amount of service over the years."

Prior to moving into management with Dumbarton 12 years ago, Murray spent the bulk of his playing career at Hibernian, having made a total of 271 appearances for his boyhood favourites across two spells, between 1999 and 2005 and from 2008 to 2012.

Although Raith’s current manager was latterly a team-mate of Stevenson and Hanlon’s for four years, he wasn’t on Hibs’ books when the Edinburgh club won the 2006-07 League Cup (with Stevenson in the squad), or the 2015-16 Scottish Cup and 2016-17 Scottish Championship (with both Stevenson and Hanlon in the squad).

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It remains to be seen whether Murray is reunited with one or both of the veteran defenders by the time pre-season training for the 2024-25 season gets underway this summer, with Raith not yet knowing what league they’ll be in.

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