So, Heart of Midlothian were relegated to the Championship on Saturday. I’m sure Leigh Griffiths wet his pants in delight. And I’m certain that many of my fellow Hibs fans will have done the same.
The delight of schadenfreude will be overwhelming amongst certain Easter Road faithful, but not this one. (Although I have to caveat that comment by saying I have been a lifelong Hibs fan, but hardly one you could describe as ‘committed’. Consistent, yes, committed, hardly.)
But that doesn’t take away my right of opinion in the sorry tale that is the unravelling of Heart of Midlothian by a buffoon from the Baltics.
Sure, we have reason to ‘hate’ our closest rivals, after all Hearts have pumped us again and again in the last few years (actually not just then, the Robertson years were pretty painful too.) That goes with the territory of city football rivalry, and is the same the world over, from Milan to Manchester.
But losing Hearts from the top division not only robs Hibs of a priceless rivalry but also of gate receipts and, actually, more importantly, a sense of being. We simply cannot get as het up about a rivalry with Dundee Utd, Partick Thistle, even Aberdeen.
In a report in the press this weekend I read of the complete and utter lack of atmosphere that has overwhelmed Celtic Park since their ticket to league glory was guaranteed the second Rangers left the league. (Actually my experience of Celtic Park was pretty much like that even when Rangers WERE in the league.)
Celtic fans just find the whole thing BORING. And school kid tickets are being given away free in increasing numbers as full paid ticket buyers desert Parkhead.
Aidan Smith writes a very good piece about the demise of Heart of Midlothian FC in today’s Scotsman. It’s well timed as today Hearts’ potential funders Bryan Jackson and Trevor Birch are to meet with the administrators of UBIG and Ukio Bankas. So, not only have Hearts been relegated but there’s a 50/50 chance that they’ll be liquidated too.
Cue further hilarity amongst The Cabbage’s hardcore support.
But be careful what you wish for. We’ll be saying bye bye to local derbies for at least three more years (pre-supposing that Butcher manages to keep Hibs away from the drop this year mind you. And that ain’t a given. Is it?)
Following Scottish football is bad enough, but to now have lost the 8 most meaningful games in a season, arguably 16 as Hibs/Rangers and Celtic/Hearts matches were pretty passionate affairs too, is simply disastrous.
Sorry Jam Tarts (and die hard Hibby, Jambo haters) but as far as I’m concerned we can’t live with you, we can’t live without you.