Andy Irving reveals how “furious” Falkirk fans steeled him for Hearts flak
A brutal six-month loan at Falkirk helped prepare Andy Irving for the scathing realities of life at Hearts. Being bottom of the league is not new to the 19-year-old and the experience stiffened his resolve.
This time last year, he was in a Falkirk team languishing bottom of Scotland’s Championship. They would remain there and suffer relegation, by which time Irving was back at his parent club.
He has started this season impressively but his club continue to endure poor league form, leaving them joint-bottom of the Premiership. That brings stinging criticism on a larger scale than Falkirk.
“It was obviously tough at Falkirk because we were a big club in that league and we weren’t performing anywhere near where we should have been,” recalled Irving
“The fans there were furious with what was happening. It was difficult to deal with at the time but you just get on with it. It made me mentally stronger.
“You have to have the confidence and belief that everything will turn out the way you hope. It was an eye opener but I wouldn’t change it because it was a good experience and it helped me massively. But it was a tough six months.”
Hearts need victory over Motherwell today to spark their league campaign, which is winless after four matches. “A win will lift everything and bring positivity back into everyone, including the fans. Three points is massive against Motherwell and hopefully that’s what we get,” said Irving.
His midfield displays have been one definite positive so far. The prosperity comes from hard graft during the summer on the back of loans at Berwick Rangers and Falkirk in recent seasons.
“When I came back this summer I felt stronger physically, that I had a better understanding of my role in the team, and defensively. That came to me more naturally as time went on,” said Irving. “I’m still improving, I still need to get a lot better but I do feel those two loan stints helped me a lot and that I am better for it.
“I went on holiday in the summer and then I was just in the gym or out on the pitch running. I had an off-season programme to stick by. It was two weeks off and then get back into the running. I did a lot of that and felt I had stayed fit. That’s what everybody has to do now. It’s your job.”