Sunday, 5 January 2014

That Was The Year That Was

So farewell, then, 2013. To say last year wasn’t the best in the long, proud history of Heart of Midlothian FC is like saying Ryan Stevenson is fond of a tattoo. If you’re like me you’ll have had your full of reviews of the year just gone by. But before I consume the last drop of that bottle of malt whisky from Aunt Ann (thanks, Ann!) and I throw out that half finished packet of shortbread, permit me, if you will, to share my highlights – and lowlights – of 2013.

Best moment – 2013 began in positive fashion, despite a heavy defeat from Celtic. Hearts defeated Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the semi-final of the League Cup and I remember walking to my home in Leith from Easter Road on a high. There was another cup final to look forward to. However, my favourite moment of 2013 was when Hearts, stranded at foot of the SPFL thanks to a 15 point deduction for going into administration during the summer, defeated Hibernian 1-0 at Tynecastle in August. Callum Paterson’s fine header to secure three valuable points put the gas of the goading visiting support at a low peep!

Emotional High – In a similar vein to the aforementioned victory over Hibernian, Hearts 2-1 victory over Aberdeen at Tynecastle a fortnight later brought a lump to my throat. Hearts had been reduced to ten men when Kevin McHattie was red-carded and with Dons pressing hard for a winner with the game delicately poised at 1-1, Hearts were awarded a free-kick a minute from the end. When young Jordan McGhee headed the winner, there was pandemonium at Tynecastle. Gary Locke’s boys had reduced the deficit at the bottom of the league to just nine points and we were still in August. I left Tynecastle that day with tears in my eyes as I genuinely felt this young Hearts team would produce one of the greatest escape acts ever.

Victory Against All Odds – When Hearts were paired with Hibernian in the quarter final of the League Cup at Easter Road in October, there was no shortage of Hibbies telling me their side would exact revenge for the 5-1 Scottish Cup Final hammering of 2012. Hibs seemed to be recovering after a slow start to the season while Hearts had slipped into reverse gear. Despite this, the away end at Easter Road was packed but it was all Hibs in the opening 25 minutes with Hearts goalkeeper supreme Jamie MacDonald pulling off a couple of breath-taking saves to keep the home side at bay. Then, having been barely able to get out of their own half, Hearts scored the only goal of the game thanks to a stunning effort from Ryan Stevenson. I walked home on air that night. Strangely, my Leith neighbours mostly seemed to be in their beds – the Leith Jambos, however, were having a party…

Lowest Point – Hearts 7-0 defeat from Celtic in the William Hill Scottish Cup tie at Tynecastle last month. No more needs to be said…

Funniest Moment – ‘Paterson’ growled auld Bill who sits next to me in the Wheatfield Stand, ‘you might as well be sitting next tae me, ya lazy big galoot’ before the Hearts centre forward spun in the penalty box and fired a brilliant shot past the Ross County goalkeeper to level the score. ‘Ach, Calum, well played son, you’re bloody brilliant!’ shouts Bill who has more faces than the toon clock…

Great Unexpectations – When Hearts went a goal behind at Aberdeen in November, the huge travelling support collectively crossed their arms and thought ‘here we go again’. But when the Dons had Barry Robson sent off, the young Hearts stormed back to win 3-1 in the Granite City, arguably Hearts best result of the season thus far.

Biggest disappointment – The League Cup final with St. Mirren in March was a disappointing day pretty much from start to finish. Most of us had hopes of Hearts lifting their second trophy in ten months but a repeat of the hammering of the Hibees was never going to happen. In stark contrast to that game, the League Cup final was on a Sunday, it was teeming with rain for most of the day and it was standing room only on the train back from Glasgow – what seems like the longest journey in the world when you’re going via Shotts. And, if course, Hearts lost…

Hope in our Hearts – Despite the anguish felt for much of the year, Hearts supporters can take solace in the emergence of some of the brightest young talent in Scotland. The likes of Jamie Walker, Calum Paterson, Brad McKay, Kevin McHattie and Jordan McGhee have bright futures. Hope remains strong that Hearts can exit administration before the end of the season and, with a bit of luck, an experienced head or two can be added to the squad during the summer. We may be playing in the Championship next season but, debt free and with big games against Rangers fuelling the imagination, I believe the fans will continue their fantastic support and continue to back the team in their droves. I’m old enough to recall the first time Hearts were relegated in 1977 and the magnificent backing the supporters gave the club the following season. I sense this again. We may have to suffer some pain in the months ahead but I firmly believe that this time next year a vibrant, new-look Hearts will be fighting it out with Rangers for promotion back to the SPFL.

Happy New Year, folks – and, as someone once said, believe!


No comments:

Post a Comment