Morgaro Gomis expected to be embroiled in a fierce title battle with Rangers right now. Instead, he found himself cheering their goals against Hibs last Sunday.
The Ibrox club’s win handed the Championship title to Hearts and Gomis openly admits he was willing them on to victory at Easter Road.
Hearts players gathered at Tynecastle to watch the match in the hope that automatic promotion would be confirmed. What transpired was a bizarre scenario which saw Gomis and his team-mates cheering goals by Lee Wallace and Kenny Miller as Rangers won 2-0.
Backing a fellow title rival is ironic, but Gomis explained he was just doing what came naturally. “We were all watching the game at Tynecastle and we were all just so happy. We were hugging each other and having a few drinks. I’m not going to lie, I was cheering when Rangers scored their goals. They played well against Hibs and I was so happy,” he said.
“When the fixture list first came out, I looked at the last game of the season against Rangers at Tynecastle. I thought that may be the league decider. But to win the league with seven games to go is amazing. We deserve it because we did really well. It’s been a great week, a great past few days.”
Gomis was a Scottish Cup winner with Dundee United in 2010, as was his fellow Hearts midfielder Prince Buaben, but feels a league title carries greater significance. “Winning the cup was great, of course, but there’s more games in a league. To win one is so hard,” he said.
“It’s more special because it’s a long season. I think when we lost to Falkirk [in January] people were questioning us and saying our bubble had burst, but we kept winning games after that and we showed our character.”
Hearts’ response in the wake of that 3-2 home defeat, which ended a 20-game unbeaten league run, has been quite staggering. They have won eight successive matches ahead of this afternoon’s meeting with Queen of the South at Tynecastle. Gomis insisted doubts never entered their head.
“No, never. We always worked hard every single day. That was the message from the manager [Robbie Neilson] and that’s what we did,” he said. “He didn’t want us to be getting slack. He said the gap is big, but if you lose one then two games the gap will suddenly shrink. So we all worked hard not to do that. That’s why we are champions.
“It’s great because it’s been a long season and we’ve been working so hard in training to achieve this. We never really thought about winning it until it was won.”
Gomis left United to join Hearts last summer and feels winning the title has vindicated his decision. “It was an easy decision to make. When I first met Robbie, I knew with the pride he had for this team that it was going to be a good season. And that’s how it’s turned out. It’s been a good decision to come here. Will Robbie still be here next season? We will see, but I definitely hope so.”
Neilson will not allow standards to slip even though Hearts have achieved their stated aim for this season. While the head coach prepares his squad to return to the Premiership, he will demand that they see out the Championship season in top gear.
“It’s not going to be easy, but we want to win all seven of our last seven games,” stressed Gomis. “We want to score goals for the fans. We want to give them something to cheer. It would be nice to get 99 points and 100 goals but it will be hard because other teams will want to beat us. So we are going to have to keep our levels up and keep performing.
“This team is ready to go up but anything can happen. You don’t know who will come in or who will go but if this team stays together it is definitely ready for the Premiership.”
Supporters will pack Tynecastle today to celebrate league success just nine months after Hearts emerged from a year-long administration process. The players on the field feel a responsibility to perform and earn three points against a dangerous Queen of the South team. “Yes, we have to. The fans are going to be turning up at Tynecastle in their numbers. We can’t just sit back. We need to go out there and play and win with style for them.”