'He straightens me out. I definitely get too excited.' Cammy Devlin relishing Hearts' trip to Hibs

The Edinburgh derby might well be Cammy Devlin’s purpose in life. Hustle, bustle, confrontation, energy, noise and outright mayhem for 90 minutes. It’s everything the little Australian thrives on.

He travels to Easter Road on Sunday relishing the latest episode in the Hibs-Hearts series and knowing his club very much hold the upper hand. Since Hibs’ 2-0 victory at Tynecastle Park back in December 2019, Hearts have won four and drawn two of the six subsequent derbies.

Devlin revelled in the experience of February’s goalless draw in Leith. His dynamic and combative style is made for such occasions. Factor in his ability to noise up opponents and you have perhaps the Edinburgh derby’s bespoke player.

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“I remember walking out in that game last season and it was really cool. I do just think of myself as such a normal person from Australia. You don't really get those atmospheres in a packed out stadium in a derby,” he says. “I know when my Mum and Dad came over and were here for one of the derbies, they couldn’t believe how loud it was with the crowd and atmosphere.”

Mr and Mrs Devlin savoured the occasion and their son tries to do likewise on the pitch. It isn’t always possible. “Probably not in those games,” he smiles. “It is a hundred miles an hour. If there is a stoppage in play you have a look around and think: ‘How cool is this?’ Especially if you’re winning. If you’re losing, probably not so much.

“You are not really getting a moment to think but at the end of the season when I went home to Australia, I was able to see photos, look back, reflect and think it’s really cool what I have done. I just want to come back and do better this season, not only as an individual but as a team as well.”

The challenge for Devlin is to play on the precipice without going over it. He loves a touch of aggression, a meaty challenge and a verbal exchange. One step too far and referees can soon ruin your afternoon. So far he has remained in control.

In that regard, Hearts captain Craig Gordon is an important influence on the occasionally overzealous 24-year-old. Devlin admits marvelling at his saves and listening to his advice. “I think there is a clip last year when he saved a penalty against Aberdeen,” recalls the midfielder. “I ran to give him a hug and he had already thrown the ball over my head, and it nearly hit me on the head. I was just too excited.

Hearts midfielder Cammy Devlin is relishing another Edinburgh derby.

“He certainly straightens me out. I definitely get a little too excited sometimes, but he straightens me and the rest of the team out. He’ll pull one out the top corner and he’s the first one to just look and start pointing around, whereas we are just like the rest of the crowd and thinking ‘what the hell is going on’. He’s a top pro. He’s had a great career and I think we are super lucky to have him.”

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And Devlin isn’t stupid, either. He doesn’t need babysat through every big game. Too many confrontations with officials would see management lose trust in him, thus limiting his game time. Missing out on future Edinburgh derbies would be tortuous for this particular character. He knows his limits.

“If you do get too carried away then you are not going to get picked in the team, especially for a game like this when the stakes are high and the challenges are naturally flying in. I do like to get in amongst it in every game and I think for me it is about controlling that. I do that quite well and if I am silly enough to pick up a yellow card early on in any game – and I know it did happen a couple of times last season – it is just about controlling that. Hopefully it doesn’t happen if I do get picked this weekend.”

Devlin also gets Hearts. He understands completely what the club and its supporters stand for having spent a year in Scotland. The passion in the Australian A-League doesn’t compare to the cinch Premiership and Devlin likes to be where the action is.

He joined Hearts to further his club career and to push for an international debut with Australia. They enter the World Cup in November so the next few weeks will be crucial to those aspirations. Likewise his Tynecastle colleagues Nathaniel Atkinson and Kye Rowles, both of whom were in the most recent Socceroos squad.

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What he might not have expected was the attention that comes with playing for one of Scotland’s biggest club’s in the Capital city. “Back home, no-one knows who you are. If you are in the city you are a normal Aussie bloke,” explains Devlin. “Coming over here I still see myself as that. We have a few Aussies together and we are all the same sort of people.

“Go out to the city, or if we are in the shopping centre or out anywhere, you get all the fans coming up. They are not shy in telling you about the meaning of this game and not only this game, but what Hearts means to them growing up. They are season-ticket holders and their dads were season-ticket holders so I do get the meaning of it. That to me as a person is super cool to see. It does open your eyes. You are not just here playing a game you are here playing a game because it means something to people. As players we do love that.”

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