ONE chorus is guaranteed to echo around Tynecastle tomorrow regardless of how Hearts fare against Aberdeen. The tribute song to Danny Wilson is already a firm favourite with the stadium’s regulars, not to mention the player himself. Not all of the lyrics are suitable for a family newspaper so those who don’t yet know the words would be advised to listen out tomorrow. You aren’t likely to miss it.
It is a testament to Wilson’s ability that he is already something of a cult hero amongst Hearts supporters. His imperious form in all three league matches so far this season doubtless contributed to the adulation. He is leading by example as club captain during a gruelling administration process. Plus, buying four season tickets when it looked like he would be unable to convert his loan from Liverpool into a permanent transfer would have earned the 21-year-old plenty kudos amongst his public.
Wilson isn’t one to milk the worshipping, even though it seems to be increasing with each passing week. Last Friday’s 1-1 draw at Firhill included seemingly relentless repeats of the Wilson melody during the second half. The defender looks almost embarrassed when asked about it, although he is enjoying having a tune created in his honour.
“I’ve heard it and it is a funny song,” he laughed. “I’ve not actually had any stick in the dressing-room for it. Dylan [McGowan] said to me the other day that the fans were singing the song and I missed a header and they still kept singing it. ‘What’s that all about?’ he was saying. It’s great if the fans have taken to me because sometimes that doesn’t happen. They seem to have taken to me so quickly and I’m delighted about that.
“My pals are all quite supportive as well. I’ve got quite a lot of mates who are Jambos and they’re happy that we’re doing okay at the moment. It wasn’t them who started the song, though. I don’t think they’re inventive enough to do that.”
Hearts fans have reserved special affection for many a centre-back down the years, from Freddie Glidden to Alan Anderson, through to Craig Levein and Steven Pressley. Wilson’s career with the club is still in its embryonic stage but his reliability in defence is something supporters recognise.
“The supporters have taken to other players as well and their backing has been fantastic,” he continued. “They’ve turned out in their numbers for a lot of the games and we just want them to continue doing that. It’s great if the fans like me but I’m here to do a job. There seems to be a good feel about the place just now but that will only last if we’re getting points.”
Wilson hasn’t always been so warmly received at a new club, a pertinent fact as Derek McInnes prepares to bring Aberdeen to Edinburgh. McInnes took Wilson on loan from Liverpool to Bristol City last season but granted him just one minute of game time – as a last-minute substitute against Middlesbrough. The player admitted he left Ashton Gate dejected but remains philosophical about the experience.
“Yeah, my head was obviously down,” said Wilson. “I went down there to play and I didn’t play. That happens in football. Sometimes you go places and people think they’re going to use you, and then for one reason or another they don’t. Bristol City were in a tough situation at the bottom of the Championship and maybe he [McInnes] felt they couldn’t really change too much. I was disappointed at the time but that’s gone now. I wasn’t given any reason why I didn’t play, he just couldn’t get me into the team at the time.
“It wasn’t rewarding for me but these things happen and you move on from them. He’s up at Aberdeen doing a good job and there are no hard feelings from my viewpoint. Aberdeen have a lot of quality and I felt they were one of the better teams we played last year, outwith Celtic.
“They have very direct wingers and, although I don’t know too much about their new striker (Calvin Zola), he seems to be a bit of a handful by all accounts.
“They’ve added really well with the likes of Willo Flood, who has good experience in Scotland. Barry Robson is there too although he’s injured. I think Aberdeen have the best squad in the league outside Celtic so this will be a really tough test for us.”
Hearts have produced a gutsy response to the daunting task of overhauling their 15-point deficit at the bottom of the Scottish Premiership. An opening-day defeat to St Johnstone was followed by an inspired Edinburgh derby win over Hibs and last week’s point at Partick.
“It’s a strange feeling being in this situation,” continued Wilson. “Nobody is really expecting too much from us this season. Obviously the fans will back us and are desperate for us to get out of the position we’re in. Outwith that, nobody else is expecting much. That can go one way or the other – you can take it easy or you can really go for it. We’re going for it. We’re going out to win games and we’re closing the gap slowly.
“I don’t feel any extra responsibility (as captain). We have more experienced players in the dressing-room who all help and, to be fair, a lot of the young boys have taken responsibility. I don’t feel anything more than normal.”
Wilson could hardly be termed an old head but many in Riccarton’s first-team dressing room are younger than him this season – a consequence of Hearts’ descent into administration. So far, the kids have mostly stood up to be counted on the pitch.
“The fact they’re playing for Hearts brings its own pressure, regardless of the situation the club is in,” said Wilson. “They still know they are playing for Hearts. We don’t concentrate too much on being minus 15 points at the start of the season because you would need to win points anyway to get yourselves up the league table. There is still the pressure of playing for Hearts and the pressure of playing at Tynecastle in front of a capacity crowd against Hibs the other week.
“We’ve picked up four points. It’s not too bad, at least it’s a start. We’re just looking to get as many points on the board as quickly as possible. Maybe we’d have five on the board if we’d held out at St Johnstone, but we’ll take the four and we’ll try and improve on that this weekend.
“I don’t know if that’s more than we expected, I don’t really know what we were expecting. We just set out to win every game and each point is a bonus.
“Some of our performances have been okay in patches and at other times we’ve not been great, so we need to get the performance levels right. Then we’ll start getting the results. That’s what we’re trying to focus on. We got a good point away at Partick Thistle last week and winning the derby before that was a big boost for us. It’s a start and now we need to push on.”