Gary Mackay: Hearts Fans offer light in the dark

Hearts fans. Pic: Ian Georgeson
Hearts fans. Pic: Ian Georgeson
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We’ve certainly experienced the contrasting emotions of football over the last week. For any Hearts supporter, you don’t get much higher than the elation we all experienced on Wednesday night after knocking Hibs out of the League Cup.

But then on Saturday, just when we thought we might be about to turn the corner, we were brought crashing back down to earth by St Johnstone.

There was hardly any expectancy or pressure on Hearts at Easter Road, but the players handled the whole occasion wonderfully well and breathed some much-needed life into our season with a brilliant backs-to-the-wall performance.

As a result, there was increased expectancy on the team on Saturday, but we were unable to reach the same heights we had at Easter Road. There haven’t been many games where we’ve been outplayed by our opponents, but this was one. St Johnstone were simply better than us on the day and looked like a far more experienced team than us.

Hopes were understandably high after the derby victory, but in hindsight it was probably asking too much of this young squad to go out just a few days later and repeat what they did at Easter Road.

With such a thin, inexperienced squad, playing midweek then Saturday is always going to take its toll and that’s why I find next week’s fund-raising friendly against Wolfsburg so baffling. At a time when we’ve generated some unexpected revenue through our League Cup run, I’m stunned that anyone feels that asking the players to play another needless midweek game is a good idea.

Things don’t get any easier this weekend, as we face as tough a game as there is away to a buoyant Aberdeen team who will be extra fired up to beat us considering how they lost at Tynecastle back in August. They have shown this season, with a hugely experienced team and a smattering of younger players, the standard and resilience needed to succeed in the Scottish Premiership. The two squads are poles apart in terms of proven quality, and I don’t think anyone outwith the players and management team will expect Hearts to go up there and get a victory.

A bit like the Hibs game, it’s one most supporters will go into with little expectation. If we’re to get anything on Saturday, we’ll need to show the same level of resilience that we got at Easter Road, and probably a little bit more.

While our battle for survival in the top flight is not looking good, the one thing that keeps me going, as well as many others, is the incredible spirit of the Hearts support.

After the game on Saturday, myself , Walter Kidd, Scott Crabbe and Wayne Foster went through to a pub called the Murray Bar in Polbeth for a forum with Hearts supporters.

Even after such a disappointing defeat, the passion and desire that these people have to see the club getting back on its feet was truly uplifting. They’re all putting money into the Foundation, backing their club to the hilt and are fully aware that we are going to go through a lot of pain before things get better.

As a Hearts supporter, it gives you a lot of comfort to be surrounded by people who have put so much time, energy and money into trying to help this great club of ours pull through.

There will be dark times ahead, but, for as long as we have this incredible fanbase, there remains light at the end of the tunnel.