The spell after going 1-0 up cost us the game yesterday. If we had got a second goal when we were on top, St Mirren were gone; dead and buried.
We had chances to do it. St Mirren were so bad early on that they couldn’t have got any worse. They were always going to improve at some stage.
It was clear early on that Hearts were far more comfortable than St Mirren. That probably comes from the fact we had players like Jamie MacDonald, Andy Webster and Darren Barr who played in a final ten months ago, while most of St Mirren’s players didn’t have that experience under their belts. They were like rabbits caught in the headlights.
If you’re on top in a game, it’s imperative that you make it count and Hearts, sadly, didn’t do that. St Mirren, who have got a wee bit of flair about them, took full advantage and we couldn’t contend with them. By the time they had gone 3-1 ahead, it was always going to be a difficult task, but the players, to their credit, stuck at it.
After what this group of players have been through this season, we can’t fault them. Yes, a couple of them maybe didn’t play as well as they’d have liked as individuals yesterday, but, on the whole, the team deserves tremendous credit for even making it to the final and then showing real spirit right to the end. I don’t think there will be regret; it’ll be more a case of disappointment.
There has been so much upheaval, uncertainty and turmoil at this football club in recent years, but, for all the nonsense, the supporters have had to put up with, we cannot, under any circumstances, lose Andy Webster for next season. He is holding us together at the minute on the park and I dread to think where we’d be without him.
There are wholesale changes going on at Hearts just now, and the supporters have to pull together to make sure we can assist our club through this difficult time as best we can. But the people running the club and making the big decisions also have to do their bit to make things easier for the management team and make things a bit better for the supporters.
On the managerial side of things, I was delighted to see Gary Locke given the job permanently. It’s his dream job and he’ll be hugely disappointed at how yesterday panned out in his first official game in charge. Lockey took losing personally as a player and he hurt all the time after a defeat. As manager of his club, he’ll take the hurt of all the players on his shoulders, dust himself down and try to get them going again.
The kind of spirit that Stevenson showed yesterday is the kind of spirit Lockey showed as a player and that’s the type of spirit he’ll want right throughout his team.
Stevenson gave every ounce of energy he had yesterday and for a club like ours, which is in a bad place at the moment, we need all our players showing that type of attitude and desire.
Even if you’ve had a poor game, you have to at least come off the park knowing that you have given everything. That’s what being a professional is about. I worry that one or two of our players don’t have the knowledge of exactly what’s required in terms of effort.
You hurt when you’ve lost giving it your all, but when you’ve not given it your all, you have to shoulder your share of the blame. You look at someone like John Sutton – not much came off for him yesterday, but he worked his socks off. Everybody has to have that work ethic going forward and I’m sure that will happen under Gary Locke.
I just hope he’s given support and the opportunity to have his own man as assistant. It might be that he could make Webster his assistant, or bring his big pal David Weir in or even go to Sandy Clark, who was instrumental in his own development some 20 years ago.
After yesterday’s disappointment, Lockey’s going to have a real tough job rousing them for seeing out the remainder of the league campaign in the bottom six, but we need to see some sort of upturn in form so that we go into the summer with a wee bit of optimism and feel-good factor about us.