No place like home as fans hail winners

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THERE were dancing girls, Hearts legends of the future and a ten-year-old singing sensation whose voice was too big for the antiquated Tynecastle PA system.

But in truth, they could have wheeled out The Proclaimers and they would have still have been cheered, such was the mood in Gorgie yesterday.

When the turnstiles opened at 1pm, thousands who had chosen to acclaim their heroes at their spiritual home rather than on the streets of the Capital flooded into Tynecastle.

The Hearts under-17 and under-19 teams showed plenty of promise for the Tynecastle future in a half-hour exhibition game.

The players, some of whom were as young as 14, displayed a slick passing style while refereeing the match themselves – displaying sportsmanship that some of the game’s professionals would do well to mimic. A dancing troupe took to the field and performed a routine before the teenage footballers returned to plug a gap with a crossbar challenge.

Then there was Saskia Eng.

Decked out in maroon, the ten-year-old, who has become an internet sensation after appearing on Britain’s Got Talent in 2010, strode out on to the pitch and belted out her Hearts version of Don’t Stop Believing by Journey.

The crowd had been getting regular updates of the progress of the cup throughout the day, and by the time it arrived at 3pm, there was barely a spare seat in the three stands open to supporters.

One by one, the players and backroom team were welcomed on to the turf to enjoy the acclaim of the crowds.

They started with Darren Barr, Saturday’s unlikely opening goalscorer.

Craig Beattie entered the fray with a slightly more pre- meditated version of the topless celebration he made famous in the semi-final victory over Celic.

Particularly rousing receptions were saved for departing heroes Rudi Skacel and Ian Black, as well as gaffer Paulo Sergio, before skipper Marius Zaliukas finally emerged with the silverware and the stadium erupted.

“It was a special day, even better than I thought it would be,” said the Lithuanian, following a lap of honour which saw the players bask in the adulation of thousands.

Sergio added: “Hearts will be in my heart for the rest of my life.”