Happiness is Being A Jambo.
Happiness is Being A Hibby.
One of these statements is factually incorrect. You choose. Or better still, ask one of your Hibby mates to choose. Ask him. Ask him if the last twenty years have been brilliant, or what.
As any gloating Jambo bastard would, I had a little squint at the message boards on Hibs.net. Disappointingly, none sounded surprised and most realised that they had brought it on themselves. There was very little foaming and frothing, which is encouraging in the short term inasmuch as it means They Know we’ve got the Indian sign on them, but a little chastening in that Hibs fans being rational bodes well for their club’s future. One pleasing aspect about Hearts this season has been supporters’ realisation that This Is How Things Are, and that moaning about it in traditional Hearts fashion won’t really make anyone feel better. And no-one’s looking at them anyway. If anyone wants to, have a little trawl back through Kickback and find out who slagged off Levein and for why. One person thought Levein might have ruined Robert Sloan’s career by wrecking his confidence after subbing him against St Johnstone last April. Aye, right.
The current run against Hibs really has got every appearance of a jinx. The difference between it and the 22-game Glory is that Hearts were pretty superior to Hibs for most of that time, and it wasn’t till the last four or five games when Hibs got themselves into winning positions that it was obvious that things really had started to get to them. I’ve told the tale many a time when I journeyed A Thousand Miles to and from Game No 20 in the certain knowledge Hearts were going to lose. Nothing that happened for 70 minutes disabused me of that notion, and Hibs should have added to their single-goal lead, but the closer the game got to the end, the more Hibs started to let Hearts do whatever they liked. It seemed a decent enough tactic on their part, given that we couldn’t do a jack thing, but a few corners were won and WHAM! John Millar (80). Unscuddingbelievable. The ultra-last-laugh was that Michael O’Neill was through on goal at the very end, took a heavy first touch and Henry smothered the ball. Looking back, O’Neill never stood a chance. He never believed he was going to score.
No, having hurt very badly this time last year after Hearts failed to finish the job and Hibs equalised at the very death (and there were Hearts fans who were talking jinxes then, the weasels, giving succour to Scotsman journalists everywhere) Craig Levein has proved time and again that he has fashioned a young squad who get the attitude right first and hope the undoubted quality in the players will not be stifled from a lack of confidence. Everyone in the Hearts team has to prove himself every week, and no-one feels that more than Steven Pressley does. There’s a man who takes nothing for granted. Every game is precious to him – not because he fears he’ll be dropped, but he fears putting in a substandard performance.
Confidence is all in this League. It’s important for a team to play with freedom, express themselves, and more often than not, Hearts have found a lead to be more restricting. Often being a goal (or two!) behind lifts players from the burden of playing it safe, and what Hearts are proving is that being in deficit shouldn’t be a cause for unnecessary worry. Obviously being a goal or two down might still result in losing the game, but we have to accept that, just as we have to accept that losing a game 6-1 (or evening winning one 5-1) doesn’t actually bear on the next Saturday’s fixture. Without getting too excited (a bit tricky as we speak), there are a lot of good young players knocking around Tynecastle, their ambition matched by their realism. Graham Weir said it all: “I’m just pleased to be part of such a game”, he said, hardly aware that he was the man who’d made it the game it was.
vexes me, though, are some Hibs fans. I
don’t mind the one on their message board who wanted to start an Albert Kidd
thread going (“it always winds them up” he wrongly parrotted)
because he belongs to the brigade who seem to think if they say seven-nil often
enough then something wonderful might happen.
Like showing a vampire a cross, you’ll find it only works in the movies
and not in real life. The Facts
(and especially recent historical facts) make it very difficult to hurt Hearts
fans these days. Even the Hibby who smirked at me after Motherwell turned us over got
short shrift. “You’ll have to do better
than that,” I said. “I was at
No, what irks me are those Hibs fans. Some are fooling themselves deliberately, some are living in the land of pixies and leprechauns and eskimos. I can’t work out why I’m so bothered by it, but I am. t’s hardly as though I suffer from an inferiority complex, because I know The Facts. On the Hibs.net message board one had written: “It's sore boys and girls to blow it against that pathetic little mob but let's stay cool here. We're better than them - always more class, always more style. Glory glory.”
(Sound of Hearts fan picking himself up from floor.)
Well, that’s admirable loyalty all
right, and you can tell the man’s hurting.
But whence comes this notion that Hibs have
always had more class and style? During
the Sauzee Legend debate, it stuck a few of us that Hibs have had precious few legends over the years. Everyone was talking about
just in the Hibs Howffs that this is
popularised. I’m well-known for being unparanoid, but there is a thread in the Scottish Press
that seems to regard Hibernian as the underdogs, the cavaliers, the
romantics. Hearts have always been a
more establishment side for all the usual Scottish reasons – business, money,
geography, religion – all of them
interconnected (Rangers were never a Protestant club per se – simply they drew
their support from the shipyards where Catholics weren’t employed) and perhaps
the current generation of journalists were weaned on the early-1970s Hibs team
as the anti-
Hibs’ fewer successes have encouraged their idiot fans to have more romantic
notions about their potential. They
less you come close, they more you think your successes must have been
world-shattering. They go on about
So while Hearts can live without popular approval (and some twerps behaving like Rangers fans just to give themselves a public profile won’t help) I’ve been struck by the lack of recognition given to Hearts in general, and especially the Hearts youth policy that started under Joe Jordan and Sandy Clark, which used to bring a lot of young players into the Scottish game. Sadly not enough of them were good enough to play for Hearts (I still shed a tear that Kris O’Neill never made it; the team that won the Youth Cup in ’98 was outstanding) but what we are seeing now is the culmination of those efforts. We have been close to the top of the under-18 and -21s for quite a few years now. However, the more that our young players are doing it for the big team, and especially on telly, and especially against Hibs, it could be that Hearts are just about to come into fashion for the first time in fifty years. On the other hand, it could just be that that Hun bastard Gordon Smith is trying to muscle in to be their agent and is talking them up on telly while he calculates his percentage. Such is the power of the Press – almost an exact inverse ratio of their integrity.
Getting back to the opening gambit, the last twenty years for Heart of Midlothian have been wonderful. Naturally I wouldn’t say that had we not won the Scottish Cup, because it would have been dreadful to make that journey along the yellow brick road and find that Oz had been burned to the ground. But We Did Win the Cup, and from this perspective it seems that from 1983 to 1998 Hearts had a Manifest Destiny to be lived out, a Wagnerian Grand Opera where the hero has to undergo all kinds of trials of Fire and Water before getting his hands on the Grail. (Those who know their Wagner can choose their own candidate for the Evil Dwarf, but I think he’s playing for Cowdenbeath right now.) Now, this is plainly fantasy, but when we won the Cup it all made a wonderful crazy kind of sense. Suddenly all that pain was justified – and the cherry on the top of course was Hibs sliding all the way down the garbage chute to Stranraer. Oh how we laughed. And even their little revitalisation now makes perfect sense, that they enjoyed winning a few battles against us only to have a perfectly miserable day out at the Cup Final (some say they enjoyed it – not as much as I did let me tell them), a magnificent League Cup Semi defeat at the hands of Old Hibs Masters like Yogi Hughes and Pat McGinlay, Monsieur Soixante-Neuf looking like 70% Doctor Zaius and 30% Frank Spencer and as for the last four derby games – well: we really don’t need to say anything. I dare say we’ll lose to Hibs at some point in the future: it could be this season, next, or it could be in the year 25:25. But I won’t get worked up about it, whenever, because I know Hearts are better than Hibs, because I know the facts, and all this website does is Provide The Facts. Hibbies, read and weep, for thou know thyselves to be second-best.
Stand Up if you hate Hi-Bees? I’ll stay comfortably seated, thanks, because they make me happy.