Gary Locke: Hearts had to fend off Ross Callachan competition

Hearts signed Ross Callachan from Raith Rovers last week. Pic: SNS
Hearts signed Ross Callachan from Raith Rovers last week. Pic: SNS
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Gary Locke has revealed how several other Scottish clubs wanted to sign Hearts’ new midfielder Ross Callachan during his time as Raith Rovers manager.

Locke, now principal ambassador at Tynecastle, delivered a glowing recommendation of the 23-year-old and feels he is ideally suited to Hearts.

Callachan joined the Edinburgh club on a two-year contract on transfer deadline day alongside on-loan Serbian winger Manuel Milinkovic.

Having managed him during his nine-month spell in Kirkcaldy, Locke believes Hearts fans will instantly take to Callachan.

In an interview with the club website, Locke said: “He’s very similar to myself – a Bonnyrigg lad and Hearts daft, so that’s a good start. He’s a fantastic player.

“When I was manager of Raith, there were a lot of clubs interested in him. At that time, there was a development fee to pay and a lot of clubs were probably put off by that. He’s got all the attributes to be a really good player for Hearts.

“He’s box-to-box, he can get about the pitch, he does like to put himself about and he’s got a goal in him. I’m very confident he’ll come here and do really well. If he does that, he’ll become a fans’ favourite.”

Locke also urged supporters to get behind the new Hearts manager Craig Levein, who will begin his second spell in charge against Aberdeen at Murrayfield on Saturday.

“It’s a really good appointment by the club,” said Locke. “Ann [Budge] had touched on the fact we needed an experienced manager. The good thing is now everybody knows who the manager is.

“I certainly feel there’s been a wee bit of a split in the support for maybe the last six or seven months. Now we’ve got a new manager in place so it’s time for everyone to rally round, get right behind the club and get right behind the team. Encourage the team as much as possible and hopefully we can have a good season.”

Hearts are hoping to attract a large home support for the first of three “home” matches at Murrayfield whilst Tynecastle’s new £12million main stand is completed. Aberdeen will bring more than 5,000 fans having already sold out their initial allocation.

“It’s a huge game for us. It’s a pity we’re not going to play here [Tynecastle] for another couple of months, but we’ve got to take advantage of the bigger stadium,” explained Locke.

“We’re working tirelessly behind the scenes. It’s three really big games at Murrayfield. Aberdeen and Rangers will probably bring more 
supporters than they normally would. It’s important we make sure we outnumber them, and that everybody turns up in huge numbers and gets behind the team.

“I’m sure the Hearts fans will do that. They’ve supported the club so well over the last three or four years, continually putting their hands in their pockets. We’re asking them for another big effort for three games at Murrayfield before we come back here.

“I know it’s the same story all the time but we are asking the fans to dig deep if they can afford it. If they can afford a wee bit extra, come and enjoy the hospitality. Let’s try and get as many bums on seats as we can.

“If they can bring a friend along to the game, they’ll get in a little bit cheaper. The club is trying everything possible to make sure we have a big support.

“Having been there before, there’s nothing better when you come out with a huge Hearts support following you. It gives you that bit of a lift and hopefully we can go and get three points.

• To book hospitality for Hearts v Aberdeen at Murrayfield, call 0131 200 7244 or 7282. To buy tickets, use one of the club’s three sales channels: online at Hearts eTickets, over the phone by calling 0333 043 1874, (option 1 then 1) or in person at the Hearts Ticket Office situated in the Wheatfield Stand undercroft.