Craig Levein insists leading Hearts to Hampden Park for the first time in five years would be just reward for fans who suffered after the club’s financial collapse five years ago.
Weather permitting, they will face Motherwell at Fir Park in the Scottish Cup quarter-final tomorrow and manager Levein wants to reach the semis at the national stadium to repay supporters.
Hearts haven’t played at Scottish football’s spiritual home since the 2013 League Cup final, which they lost to St Mirren. Four months later they entered administration, leaving players, staff and fans distraught.
The Edinburgh club’s future was in serious jeopardy as the administration process continued throughout season 2013/14. They came close to going out of business before Ann Budge’s £2.5million takeover.
After exiting administration, gaining promotion, playing European football and building a £15m new stand, an appearance at Hampden is the next box to tick on Hearts’ bucket list.
Winning tomorrow’s quarter-final would likely do the job as the Glasgow ground is expected to host both semi-finals. Levein sees it as the next stage of the club’s rebuilding programme.
“If we could get to Hampden it would be fantastic for everyone, especially the supporters,” he said. “We have had a difficult year with everything that has happened, there have been a lot of changes and also the huge expense we have had to go to erect the new main stand.
“I normally associate Hampden with finals but the way the tournament is shaping up it looks like both of the semi-finals will be there as well. So I am hoping we can do really well in this game and give our fans a day to look forward to.”
Heavy snow leaves the tie in some doubt but Motherwell staff have been working to clear Fir Park and the surrounding area.
Levein hopes to avoid a postponement because that would mean travelling to Lanarkshire to play the quarter-final on Tuesday night – and then facing Hibs in the Premiership at Easter Road on Friday.
“I just hope the game goes ahead. We have Hibs coming up soon after and if the game has to be rearranged that would mean us playing Tuesday-Friday,” he added.