Why I Hate Hearts
Another football blog coming up… apologies…
Heart of Midlothian Football Club. To me, the team that stands for everything I hate about Scottish Football.
That might come as a surprise to many. I’m a Celtic fan, I should hate Rangers, right? Well, wrong. First, I have friends who are Rangers fans. Perfectly reasonable people. Yes, they have their element of the fan base that I can’t stand. But then you could say the same about Celtic fans to be honest. Admittedly, I can’t stand some of our support for a whole different reason, but this blog is about Hearts, not Celtic or Rangers.
There’s the money thing. Some big shot moron comes in and buys Hearts, spends ridiculous amounts of money trying to make them competitive, and ends up running up a ridiculous debt that they really can’t manage. Hearts are currently crippled with the second biggest debt in Scottish Football – only Rangers are more skint. And even then it’s not THAT much of a difference. When you consider Rangers get 50,000 fans every other week compared to Hearts and their 15,000, guess which one has a better chance of fixing that debt? They’re a mess, and have been subjected to the same idiotic mismanagement of football finances that currently blights the supposed “best league in the world” in England.
Then there’s the long standing belief in Scottish football that sectarianism is a West of Scotland thing. Not a chance. I’ve had more abuse from Hearts fans than Rangers fans in my time. Hell, I’ve even had abuse from Lothian & Borders police in Edinburgh after a Hearts game. Some MORON of a policeman plowing through the exiting Celtic fans heading for the buses. The crowd are heading one way, and he’s barging his way in the other direction. I mumbled something about “someone is in a hurry” and this tit grabs me by the scruff of the neck and asks “Do you want arrested son?!” “Not really” was my reply and he throws me back in the direction the crowd are going screaming “on your way then”. I don’t think I’ve been back to Tynecastle since that day in 2005. Funnily enough, this was game 37 of a 38 game league and Celtic had pretty much given themselves one hand on the trophy after a hard fought 2-1 win. I’ve always assumed this policeman was an angry Rangers fan who figured his team was about to lose the league. He wasn’t to know we’d blow it at Fir Park the following week…
But it’s the knuckle dragging fans that annoy me more than anything else. Many of my fellow Celtic fans refer to them as the “Diet Huns” or the “Wee Huns”. It links to them to the use of the word “Huns” for Rangers. Personally, I think they’d be close to “Hun Concentrate” if we’re going to name them after juice. Like I said, I know good Rangers fans. I’ve never met a real Hearts fan I liked. I’ve met several I actively disliked.
Celtic fans have always had this belief that Hearts and Rangers have this little pact between them. It’s because of the similar fan base rather than anything based on truth. To be honest, most Rangers fans I know can’t stand Hearts either, but I can understand where it comes from. And I even have interesting statistics to back this up. Lets look back at that amazing 2002-03 season I mentioned in my last blog.
Celtic and Rangers finished level on points at the end of the season, with a single goal between them on goal difference. It was an amazing end to a rollercoaster season. But have you ever wondered just how those two managed to finish so closely? I analysed it at the time and was amazed to see just how similar the two teams were. Of the 38 games played in the league, both Celtic and Rangers lost 3 and drew 4. Those games went like this:
- Aug 3: Kilmarnock 1, Rangers 1
- Sep 10: Motherwell 2, Celtic 1
- Oct 6: Celtic 3, Rangers 3
- Nov 16: Aberdeen 2, Rangers 2
- Dec 7: Rangers 3, Celtic 2
- Dec 15: Kilmarnock 1, Celtic 1
- Dec 26: Motherwell 1, Rangers 0
- Jan 2: Aberdeen 1, Celtic 1
- Mar 8: Celtic 1, Rangers 0
- Apr 6: Dundee 1, Celtic 1
- Apr 19: Hearts 2, Celtic 1
- Apr 27: Rangers 1, Celtic 2
- May 4: Dundee 2, Rangers 2
Notice the pattern? Both had draws away to Kilmarnock. Both had draws away to Dundee. Both had draws away to Aberdeen. Both had defeats away to Motherwell. Of the four Old Firm games, Celtic won two, Rangers won one, and the other was a draw. Now, in Spain, that would have meant that finishing level on points Celtic would win the league on the head to head rule. But in Scotland, it came down to goal difference. In fact, the only difference between Celtic and Rangers against the other teams that season was how they performed against Hearts. Celtic had a defeat away to Hearts in April, Rangers never dropped any points to them. That cancelled out the 2-1 in Old Firm wins in Celtic’s favour and meant the two teams finished level.
What makes that all the more interesting is that the Celtic defeat to Hearts was a frustrating one. Larsson had given Celtic the lead around the hour mark, but Hearts equalised with 15 minutes to go. As Celtic pushed on to try and get the winner in that match, Hearts scored in the final minute, turning a one point draw into a no points defeat. Had Celtic not been chasing the win, they would have ultimately won the league!
But it gets even better. There was a game at Ibrox in February between Rangers and Hearts. I was away on holiday in Ireland at the time, but I checked the results to see what had transpired. Rangers 1, Hearts 0. A Scott Severin OWN GOAL. Hearts had managed to beat THEMSELVES.
So really, the 2002-03 league season didn’t come down to the big shoot out on the final day of the season. It didn’t come down to Aberdeen or Motherwell or Kilmarnock. It came down to Scotland putting goal difference ahead of the head-to-head results, and how the two teams faired against Hearts. Rangers won the league, Celtic didn’t. And yes, Celtic only have themselves to blame really, but even though I know that, I still have this dislike for Hearts and this nagging feeling that whenever they play Rangers SOMETHING will happen to ensure Rangers get all three points.
Incidentally, Rangers are at home to Hearts today. They’re struggling to find fit strikers to put on the park. Rangers fans, Rangers backroom staff… they’re all saying that they can’t take the gap over Celtic (currently 9 points in their favour) for granted because in this league it would just take a couple of dodgy results for that to be turned around. And with the “striker crisis” Rangers are having this might be Celtic’s best chance to get a favour and a chance to close the gap a bit when they play St Johnstone tomorrow.
Sorry, I don’t buy it. I fully expect Rangers to get the three points and hold a 12 point gap over Celtic prior to our trip to Perth. Paranoia? Nah, just life experience.