Ex-Hearts ace reveals Gary Locke's derby motivation as he backs Robbie Neilson over Dundee comments
Ryan Stevenson has backed Robbie Neilson regarding comments made in the build-up to the Dundee clash as he revealed Gary Locke’s pre-match ploy for a crucial Edinburgh derby.
Dens Park boss James McPake hit out at Neilson in the aftermath of Saturday’s 1-1 draw between the sides at Tynecastle Park.
The Hearts manager was told to “concentrate on his own team" and accused of “stoking the fire” over Dundee's voting controversy in 2020.
Writing in his column for the Daily Record, Stevenson backed Neilson’s comments.
"Robbie might have upset James last week when referring to the memory of the Dundee voting scandal,” he said. “But he was 100 per cent right to do it.
“James said he was “stoking the fire” but he was just ensuring the fire was in his players’ belly for a big game. It’s a tactic that’s been going on for years.”
Stevenson recalled a crucial derby from 2014 when Hibs faced Hearts at Tynecastle Park in the season both sides were relegated from the top-flight.
The Gorgie side had been hit with a 15-point deduction and Terry Butcher’s men had the chance to inflict relegation on their rivals.
“All week the headlines were about how they were going to finish us off,” Stevenson said.
“Their fans were in the stadium an hour before kick-off with beach balls and all that rubbish. They’d all had their say through the week.
“Lockey never missed a word. Every paper clipping was pinned to the wall in the corridor all the way down to the changing room. It was turned into a motivation wall and we were all ready to run right through it by kick off.
“Everyone knows Lockey bleeds maroon. He was saying to us “What are you going to do? You going to accept that from them? You going to lie down or go out there and fight for your club?”
“We went out and battered them. Sent them up the road with a 2-0 drubbing. Dale Carrick and Billy King scored in a 2-0 win and I set up both. They ended up joining us in the Championship.
“That was Lockey at his best.”