Ben Garuccio: Hearts will channel derby positivity against Livingston

Olly Lee, left, celebrates his derby goal with Ben Garuccio at Easter Road
Olly Lee, left, celebrates his derby goal with Ben Garuccio at Easter Road
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Ben Garuccio is hoping that the lingering positivity from the Edinburgh derby victory three weeks ago can help Hearts eliminate Livingston from the Scottish Cup tomorrow.

The Tynecastle side have had three weeks to bask in the glory of their first away win over city rivals Hibs in more than four and a half years. It was one of their most celebrated victories for some time and Garuccio admits the subsequent winter break probably came at the wrong time in terms of using the feelgood factor to help generate further fruitful results on the pitch. Nonetheless, the Australian left-back is confident that his team can use the positivity generated at the end of 2018 to help them kick-off 2019 on a high note.

“If anything the break maybe came at the wrong time after that Hibs result,” said Garuccio. “You want to keep going, you felt like you could take on the world; you feel king of the world after a result like that. So we just want to continue where we left off.”

Garuccio seemed to thrive in the derby atmosphere as he produced arguably his best display to date.

“I had heard a lot of stories about how tough it had been to win there in recent years, so to get a good result like that was great, I really enjoyed it,” he said. “I live right in the city centre so people would stop me and say well done, and after a big win like that it’s nice.

“Obviously when you are on the other end of it you just want to stay in the house and not even go out. But it’s nice to know you’ve done your team proud and the fans are proud to say you’re a Hearts player.”

That wasn’t the case a mere three weeks previously for Garuccio and his colleagues after they had crashed to a humiliating 5-0 defeat away to Livingston. After the subsequent victory over Hibs earned them some forgiveness from their supporters, Garuccio is confident Hearts can take a further step towards banishing that grim Friday evening in West Lothian from memory.

“We haven’t really spoken about the desire for payback but as a footballer you remember those results,” said the Aussie. “There are games like that where you don’t really know what went wrong. It’s just a night to forget. When you look back you look at your own performance and it’s not very as good as well. It wasn’t very good from me that night and if you have a few people like that the chances are you’re going to have a bad result.

“That can happen, but on nights when it does you have to make sure it doesn’t get embarrassing like that. We’re going to make sure that doesn’t happen again. It was embarrassing for us, we want to put things right, and this is the best way to do it in front of our own fans.”

With the feelgood factor restored by back-to-back wins at the end of 2018 and key players returning from injury, Garuccio is hopeful that Hearts can rekindle the level of form that helped them move six points clear at the top of the Premiership in October. He is upbeat about their prospects of climbing back into the top four after they slipped to fifth place before the break.

“100 per cent I think we can start moving back up the league,” said Garuccio. “I don’t think it’s naive to think that either. Look back to the start of the season and how well we were playing, it felt like we were going away to tough places and getting results. It really felt like something special – as a footballer, you don’t always have that feeling.

“That result at Hibs brings that feeling and that belief back. You need to believe or there’s no way you’ll do it.

“Everyone collectively needs to believe. I seriously believe 100 per cent that we will move back up the league. We had a bad run but we’re still only six points off the top so that says something about how well we did at the start of the season. If we can get back to that form, we’ll definitely get closer to the top of the league.”