London Hearts Supporters Club

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Tommy McLean <-auth James Traynor auth-> Hugh Dallas
Robertson John [S Cooper 29]
3 of 003 ----- SC N

Diamonds shine More first division cup glory as sad Hearts falter


10 Apr 1995

Airdrie 1, Hearts 0

ANDY Smith was like an overgrown schoolboy as he pranced around in his short trousers at the end of the match.

Alan Lawrence, wearing a grin as wide as a goalmouth, led a delegation to the east stand where Airdrie's supporters were gathered, and Kenny Black seemed to be wandering across Hampden's vast expanse in a daze.

Airdrie in their second Tennents Scottish Cup final in three years? How could this be possible?

Airdrie's manager, Alex MacDonald, and his back-up team had suspected another cup final appearance would be possible, but few were willing to go along with them, although they won converts to their way of thinking soon after the ball started rolling at the national stadium.

When Steve Cooper rose unmolested in Hearts' box after 29 minutes and headed the ball beyond Craig Nelson, believers flocked to MacDonald's camp.

Memories of past triumphs over teams from Edinburgh helped make Airdrie even more positive while the opposite was the case for Hearts throughout the remainder of the first half.

They played like a team haunted.

They had lost to Airdrie after a penalty shoot-out in the semi-final of the '91-92 competition and defeat again was closing in on them.

They did perform better in the second half, but Airdrie's defence, with Jimmy Sandison, Sandy Stewart, and Paul Jack immense, were comfortable under pressure and, when they were breached, John Martin threw himself across his goal like the hero his supporters have always known him to be.

At one stage late in the match the keeper dived to save from Gary Mackay and crashed into a post damaging a thigh.

The post was rattled and fortunate to survive, but Martin had to hobble for the remaining minutes and couldn't kick the ball out.

However, the former miner later dismissed concern about his injury.

"It's nothing, I'll be all right," he said in the manner of a good, old-fashioned hero.

"You know me, I'd go through a brick wall for this team."

Martin, the club's longest-serving player, could have been speaking for all of the others because they had a steely-eyed look about them on Saturday.

In the seconds before kick off they glared across the halfway line staring their opponents down.

Airdrie's cup tradition -- they have played 13 ties this season and lost only once, and even that defeat was after a penalty shoot-out against Raith Rovers in the semi-finals of the Coca-Cola Cup -- and a fierce desire to reach another final gave them the edge over the Tynecastle side, who were not helped either by injuries to key players.

It was pointed out after the tie that Jim Bett and Brian Hamilton were hampered by groin and hamstring injuries respectively, but it would be an injustice to diminish Airdrie's achievement.

The Diamonds deserved their place in the final and are entitled to believe they can go all the way.

The Lanarkshire side's preparation was faultless and the strategy almost perfect, with MacDonald deciding to play Andy Smith wide on the right in midfield where he was able to prevent Hearts' John Millar from making runs into the penalty box.

Smith coped well and took time out to surge down the right and deliver the crucial cross for Cooper.

Hearts had three tall men -- Dave McPherson, Willie Jamieson, and Craig Levein -- in there, yet Cooper was allowed time and space in which to rise and meet the ball.

That single goal, stout defending, poor finishing, and the bravery of Martin was enough to secure Airdrie's place in the final.

Although Tommy McLean's side had most of the pressure in the second half their play lacked sparkle and it was a measure of their frustration perhaps that of the five players booked, four wore maroon shirts.

Airdrie's Kenny Black was cautioned after having kicked the ball away while Jamieson, Bett, Millar, and David Hagen were booked.

Also, John Robertson was ordered off five minutes from time after he had allowed himself to become involved in an exchange with substitute Anthony Smith, and a miserable afternoon was completed for Hearts.

Robertson was a picture of dejection as he trudged off wearing on his head a white bandage.

The striker had collided with Jack early in the match and required the covering as protection from further injury.

One wonders what medicine the Tynecastle medics may possess to help ease broken hearts.

Taken from the Herald

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