Move over Celtic and Rangers; time to experience the original rivalry when the Edinburgh derby takes centre stage on Sunday.
Arriving at the end of the first round of SPL fixtures, the fans have had to wait for this one, but some Hibs fans may still be thinking it’s came to soon! The Easter road side has had their worst home run in their 135-year history, which ultimately led to the resignation of John Hughes at the beginning of October. With only 2 games in, and 2 defeats, new Hibs’ boss Colin Calderwood’s will be hoping its third time lucky.
The Hibernian commercial kooks have billed the game as their ‘house warming’ with emphasis on the fact that this will not only be Calderwood’s first derby, but first match in charge at his newly refurbished home. He is aware of the rivalry between the two and knows a win will ease his transition into the post greatly.
However, Hearts will go into Sunday’s showdown as favorites with a 6-point advantage over Hibs but old cliché goes; ‘form goes oot the windae in a derby!’ In fact there is some truth in those words as last time Hearts were big favourites, a
Hibernian team blighted by injury swaggered out of Tynecastle with the bragging rights thanks to a Derek Riordan penalty and a gritty performance by a bunch of under 19’s.
But that was then, and this is now. Hibs have gone without a derby win since that night in May 2009 and Hearts have an impressive derby record with 131 wins to Hibs dire 85. Derby’s are often a physical affair with the team that plays the hardest usually winning. That has been Hearts’ strength in the past. They enter a derby with a clinical manner; they see the job ahead and tend to carry out their game plan with efficiency.
Hibernian, on the other hand, are the cavalier ‘almost men’ who ride their luck and although show glimpses of brilliance, are usually too easily bullied off the ball, and in recent years haven’t really given a thought to any type of defense tactic.
But I sense a changing of the wind. A new confidence beamed through the Hibernian team in last Saturday’s defeat to Dundee United. It was visible that David Goodwillie’s late winner stung them hard on a day where for the first time in years Hibs looked like they had a plan in defence. Of course we should have seen it coming, it is the defence what Calderwood said he would focus on but that performance coupled with Hearts 3 nil defeat at home to Kilmarnock has set this derby rather nicely making it difficult to predict the successor.
Of course Hearts’ defeat to Kilmarnock at Tynecastle could have been a flook! Perhaps it was one of those times when an old rival comes back to haunt you. A derby hero himself, former Easter Road star and manager enjoyed it for sure. But
Jim Jeffries would have been fuming at his team and although the result signaled a glimmer of hope for the green half of Edinburgh, make no mistake, the experienced Hearts boss will be making sure his defence don’t concede that easily on Sunday.
In fact neither team will set up with an expansive attacking style. There is no doubt that Hibs and Hearts fans will be embroiled in the bitter battle nut neutrals will likely witness a scrappy affair, full of heat and passion, but not much football. But then the derby is not marketed to neutrals; it is firmly the possession of those who find themselves on either side of the oldest rivalry in Scottish football. It is theirs and no matter what style their team may play, if they get the win, they won’t care.