Keeping the Dream Alive

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Mike Smith
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Keeping the Dream Alive

Post by Mike Smith » Wed Aug 31, 2005 5:54 pm

It doesn’t sit easy, does it? Five games into the league season, Hearts are top of the league with a one hundred per cent record. Five points - yes, five points - clear. The Old Firm are trailing behind, with Rangers six points behind and already getting fidgety about their trip to Tynecastle at the end of September. Sell-out crowds at Tynecastle chant ‘We Shall Not be Moved’ with unbridled glee as Rudi Skacel scores yet another goal. The smugness in Gorgie is palpable - but with each passing week the tension increases markedly. For this is Heart of Midlothian - a team synonymous with kicking its supporters in the teeth. But the question on every Hearts fans’ lips is - is this the genuine dawn of an era or another crass imitation?

I didn’t enjoy last week’s win over Motherwell. Sure, it was Hearts first win over Terry Butcher’s side since Phil Anderton last sold a packet of Daz, but the atmosphere was fraught. Craig Gordon’s fabulous save in the dying moments from Kinniburgh’s volley earned rapturous applause from those in maroon as well as sporting claps on the back from some of the Motherwell players. But the relief on the faces of the huge numbers of Hearts fans at Tynecastle told its own story.

There’s a two week break now until Hearts head for Livingston - a game which has been switched to a Sunday to accommodate the Setanta Television cameras. A sign of the times that Livingston v. Hearts is deemed to be the pick of the weekend fixtures. A sign of the times too that Hearts fans were queuing some considerable way down McLeod Street in order to get a ticket. Certainly the fervour surrounding Hearts at present is good news for the Lithuanian bankers who will look forward to the extra revenue from live television coverage and the massive increase in ticket sales going a little way towards reducing the £19m debt which proved so unmanageable for the Bank of Scotland who demanded an annual sale of player(s) just to meet the accrued interest. But for long suffering Hearts fans who have been through more hard times than a Celtic Champions League flag seller, waiting for the inevitable fall to earth is akin to Graeme Souness getting the sack from Newcastle United - you fear it’s going to happen but you hope it’s put off for as long as possible.

The real test of this Hearts team lies twofold. First, the games against the Old Firm. It’s all very well the likes of Aberdeen and Hibernian defeating Rangers but with Hearts clear at the top of the SPL the Rangers and Celtic will see their trips to Tynecastle as among the biggest of the season - and will raise their game accordingly. Hearts have nothing to fear from the visit of Alex McLeish’s side at the end of September but none of us will be surprised if the game happens to turn on a controversial decision or two in favour of the Govan team. The S.F.A. still haven’t forgotten Craig Levein making fools out of them or George Foulkes standing up to the Hampden suits following Rangers last visit to Gorgie in March.

Second, a true test of Hearts mettle will come when they do suffer defeat. Hearts haven’t lost a game since George Burley arrived to transform the maroons and it’s how the team will react to a setback or two that will really show what they’re made of. Burley knows only too well that the squad isn’t yet of sufficient quality to cope with injuries and suspensions, a fact proved last week when the team huffed and puffed to a 2-0 win over the amateurs of Queens Park in the CIS Insurance Cup.

If Hearts can handle this and are still jostling with the Old Firm for top spot in the SPL come Christmas, this may well be an historic season. Neither of Glasgow’s ‘big two’ have been convincing so far this season and if Hearts are still close to the top of the league come the chimes of the New Year bells, I don’t doubt Vladimir Romanov will come to George Burley’s aid with a potful of roubles. Back in 1998, Jim Jefferies’ plea to Chris Robinson for money to buy the two players he felt was necessary for Hearts to win the league fell on deaf ears. Hearts finished third in the Premier League with the not inconsiderable consolation of the Scottish Cup. There seems no reason to doubt that Romanov doesn’t match Burley’s undoubted ambition - he’s proved thus far that he does - and if Hearts can make their squad stronger during the home run then the championship dream that has burnt in the minds of Jambos for forty six years may become reality.

Not only that, we won’t have to worry about going to Dens Park in May…….

If only we could keep this dream alive! :wink:
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bobby s
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Post by bobby s » Wed Aug 31, 2005 7:16 pm

I was looking over Hibs season 2000-2001, game by game to christmas, and it was revealing.

I don't know what Hearts record is like in the last year, but Hibs have won at Parkhead, Ibrox, Tynecastle, Pittodrie, Fir Park. I'm pretty certain the only place we havenae won in that period is Rugby Park, but I'm sure we'll manage that next time round.

Hearts have put together 5 wins against non old firm teams.

I cannot believe the hysteria surrounding Hearts just now.
It's the Hope I can't stand

Mike Smith
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Post by Mike Smith » Wed Aug 31, 2005 8:07 pm

You're right, Bobby, there is a lot of hype about Hearts just now. I'm just enjoying it while it lasts.

I'm also a wee bit concerned to hear George Burley's comments tonight - I don't think he's best pleased with our man Romanov....

:?
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Killiehippo
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Post by Killiehippo » Wed Aug 31, 2005 8:58 pm

Good post Mike and it's refreshing to see someone put in a genuine looking challenge that has the fans of the big two sounding more than a little uncomfortable. Indeed the talk in the boozer after our win against Livi was about the possibility of this being 1964/65 revisited. That can be attributed to the excessive amounts of lager consumed rather than any reasoned argument about the eleven guys in blue + white stripes runing around the green stuff!
Our only defeat of the season was against Hearts in the opening game of the campaign. Our defending was abysmal however I've no doubt that Hearts looked better than your average team. Burley has not just signed one or two decent players, he has brought in several and that is the evidence that suggests to me they can stay up there challenging. On the other hand Killie will give anyone a good game with there "first 11" however when injuries and suspensions kick in I fear we dont have the necessary strength in depth.
My biggest concern, if I was a Jambo. would be the relationship between Burley and Romanov as well as Romanov's future. Niggling rumours persist about his background and I did think Burley looked less than impressed when talking about the Brazilian signing on TV tonight. We'll just have to wait and see how things work out but all the best for the rest of the season.
Bobby - as for Hibs winning at the Theatre of Pies, I reckon there's more chance of a withdrawal of the Killie Pie and slimfast cakes being sold instead to the Killie fat boys!!

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