Ask any football fan what their nightmare scenario would be and the likely answer is something along the lines of losing heavily at home in a derby match or being relegated by goal difference on the last day of the season. My team managed to conjure up an altogether new one for me when they capitulated embarrassingly to First Division Ross County in the Scottish Cup semi-final. As the three of us embarked on a short train journey through to the capital the signal on my radio faded in and out with short bursts of ‘County one up’, ‘Celtic being pulled apart’, ‘Horrible miss’ and ultimately ‘And that’s the second goal, Celtic are out the cup’. Just when I thought the season couldn’t get any worse. If that result was the nadir then having to go to watch Hearts-Kilmarnock immediately after was some form of cruel and unusual punishment. Two clubs with an intense disliking of the Old Firm and Celtic in particular were to play out their final game prior to the league split with the home side needing just a point to secure a top 6 finish and Killie desperately clinging on to Premier League life.
We arrived in an Edinburgh bathed in glorious spring sunshine (which doesn’t make it any more appealing I may add) and walked the short journey from the station to Tynecastle. The match tickets were a reasonable £19 and we opted for the main stand, which turned out to be a pretty shoddy choice on my part as we quickly realised that ¾ of the ground is a cracking arena and the other quarter is the main stand. It is evident from when you squeeze through the extremely narrow turnstile and corridor and see the archaic signs warning of pickpockets that this stand is truly a relic of a bygone football era. It was only to get worse when we took our seats as Kieran and Jamie’s were beyond the pitch level and their view restricted by an enormous floodlight stanchion. The seats themselves were horribly cramped, akin to that at Morton. We could only look out enviously at the other three modern stands which were bathed in the afternoon sun.
Just as the game kicked off the impressively large crowd launched into a rousing rendition of ‘Lets all laugh at Celtic’ and ‘If you hate the effin Old Firm’ – I knew then it was going to be a long afternoon. The match itself started at a good pace with a chance for either side - Killie’s Connor Sammon heading over after just two minutes when he should’ve really scored and the ever languid Christian Nade shooting straight at Cammy Bell. However there were little opportunities again until the half hour when Hearts scored the only goal of the game – Suso Santana sweeping the ball home after a blocked shot in the box.
The second half was a bitty affair with few clear cut opportunities until the last fifteen minutes when Kilmarnock began to open up more in a desperate bid to claim a vital point. It was the home side who came closest though to sealing victory with Nade, Suso and Robinson all passing up opportunities. Truth be told my interest had waned completely by then as I tuned into a dramatic Grand National race on the radio. As we left the ground news had filtered through that Jamie’s St Mirren had lost to Falkirk in a massive relegation battle and with that and Kieran’s Oxford side struggling to get out of the conference it felt like the Gods of football had truly smote us. And that was even before we realised we had to next visit Airdrie.
Journey – 6
Pie – 5
Bovril – 6
Ground – 7
Game – 5