Scott Robinson insists there is no greater experience for a Hearts player than celebrating victory at Easter Road.
After holding firm to see out a hard-fought 2-1 win over Hibs on Sunday, Robinson and his triumphant team-mates marched up to the Dunbar End to milk the acclaim of their delirious supporters, with some of the players throwing their shirts into the crowd in the type of wild, unbridled scenes not usually witnessed in Scottish football these days.
Robinson was keen to stress that the relentless and raucous backing from the 3600 Jambos in attendance was vital in helping a young Hearts team get over the line, and he admitted that the party unfolding in the stand at full-time made him want to jump in amongst the fans to be part of it.
“Apart from maybe winning cup finals, you never really get to celebrate wins like that, throwing your strip into the crowd and stuff like that,” Robinson told the Evening News as he reflected on a fourth victory from five Edinburgh derbies this season. “Easter Road is the only place where you know you’re guaranteed to sell out the away end. There’s nothing better than when you’re winning there and all you can hear is the Hearts fans. It really is brilliant.
“I’ve never been in the Hearts end at Easter Road as a supporter but at the end, when everybody’s celebrating, it makes you want to jump in amongst them and get involved. It’s good enough being on the pitch seeing them celebrating in the stand. You could see the connection between the players and the supporters at the end.
“It was amazing. It’s always a great occasion when you go down to Easter Road but to get the fourth win against them this season is just brilliant.”
While the Hearts end was buoyant from the outset, Robinson could sense the anxiety among the relegation-haunted Hibs players as any mistakes they made were met by audible groans and occasionally boos from the disgruntled home support. The 22-year-old believes the contrasting moods of the two sets of supporters had an impact on the way the game panned out.
“I could definitely detect that their fans were a bit restless and their players seemed to be a bit edgy,” said Robinson. “That’s what can happen at home, though, when you’re struggling. The fans have a right to voice their opinion. We weren’t too worried about that, though, because our own end was absolutely bouncing. When we were 2-0 up I had a wee glance up at the Hearts end and saw the fans bouncing, and it was brilliant.
“Obviously you can’t stand watching them jumping about for too long when you’re playing but it’s great to have a wee glance when it’s like that. They get right behind you and it makes you want to run that extra yard and cover an extra blade of grass to make a tackle or whatever. We’re delighted we’ve made them happy.”
With no real pressure on them, Hearts were able to settle better than their hosts and ultimately ended the first half two goals to the good courtesy of Callum Paterson’s headed double. The second half was far less serene for Robinson and his colleagues as Hibs staged a spirited revival which brought one goal and threatened to bring another.
With Hearts having already endured their fair share of late blows this season, Robinson admitted the heat was on in the closing stages of the match, especially as the Hibs fans were roused by the signal from the fourth official that there would be six minutes of time added on.
“I thought we were really good in the first half and at 2-0 we looked comfortable,” said Robinson. “Once they got the goal back, it was always going to be a case of weathering the storm. They were always going to come at us but we did well and if Ryan Stevenson could have made it 3-1 when he went clean through it would have eased the pressure on us.
“I was watching the clock on the scoreboard from 80 minutes to 90 and that took long enough, but then when I saw there was six minutes of added time, I thought ‘oh no, here we go’. The six minutes of added time seemed to go on forever. In saying that, we dealt really well with everything they threw at us.”
In the absence of the suspended Jamie Hamill, one of Hearts’ few senior players, Robinson, at 22, found himself cast as the old head of Hearts’ midfield four, with 21-year-old Jason Holt alongside him in the engine room and teenage duo Sam Nicholson and Billy King on the flanks. Hibs, by contrast, had a midfield well-populated with respected seasoned professionals in the shape of Liam Craig, 27, Scott Robertson, 29, and Kevin Thomson, 29. With Robinson leading by example with a performance that was described by manager Gary Locke as “different class”, Hearts’ midfield were in no mood to bow down to their opponents.
“I was quite happy with my own performance,” said Robinson. “I felt I worked hard for the team and did the job I was asked to do. It wasn’t the prettiest game at times, a lot of it was just about trying to win the battle against the man opposite you, but I thought me and Jason did pretty well in there. Everyone would probably say they had a stronger midfield on paper than us but we certainly fought for the cause. You can’t get intimidated by anyone you’re playing against. You’ve got to respect everyone obviously but you’ve got to get in about them and let them know you’re there and that’s what we did.
“I think that’s the first time me and Jason have played together in a midfield two but I know his game and he can do a great job in there. Hamill’s experience is obviously a big miss when he’s not playing and I suppose I became the senior midfielder, but it wasn’t about me, it was a really good, battling team performance.”
Hearts are the form team in the Premiership over the past five games, with 13 points accumulated from a possible 15. Sunday’s victory made it three wins on the spin for the Tynecastle side for the first time in three-and-a-half years and they now have a realistic chance of finishing with more points than the seventh-placed team in the hypothetical event that their penalty of 15 points for entering administration was removed. “The aim for the rest of the season is to win every game,” said Robinson. “We just want to keep winning, keep the fans happy and take it on to next season. We want to build up as many points as we can and at the end of the season be in a position to say ‘look, if it wasn’t for the deduction we would have been up there.’”