Hearts 2021/22 end-of-season awards: Player of the year, best signing, worst moment

We hand out some end-of-season awards after a thoroughly impressive campaign back in Scottish football’s top flight for Robbie Neilson’s men.

By Craig Fowler
Friday, 27th May 2022, 12:01 pm

Player of the season

There were several Hearts players who performed tremendously well across the course of the campaign but only one of them was in serious contention for, and indeed picked up some, league-wide end-of-season awards. Craig Gordon might just have had his best season in a Hearts jersey, which is something special considering he’s previously won the SWFA Player of the Year award while at Tynecastle. How many out-of-this-world, match-turning saves did he make overall? You’d need an abacus to count.

Best moment

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Stephen Kingsley celebrates scoring against Hibs as Hearts win the Scottish Cup semi-final 2-1 against their greatest rivals. Picture: SNS

We’re going to have a dual award-winner here with Best Goal coming up next because there’s little doubt the stand-out moment from the entire campaign was Stephen Kingsley’s spectacular free-kick in the Scottish Cup semi-final victory over rivals Hibs. It gave Hearts a 2-0 cushion they would end up requiring and set them on the path to confirming eight games in Europe next season. It also meant they reached a cup final, kept their 100 per cent Hampden record against Hibs and effectively ended their rivals’ season.

Best goal

It appeared like a training-ground routine worked to perfection, but Kingsley later revealed the whole thing was improvised. The curl he got on the ball to both send it wide of Harry Clarke and bend it inside Matt Macey’s right-hand post was something truly special.

Best signing

Ellis Simms was a key January addition as his physical presence and goalscoring touch helped see Hearts race clear in third and get to the Scottish Cup final, but over the course of the full campaign the answer is Barrie McKay. The former Rangers winger is a gem of a player, someone who glides through games with a penchant for devastating through balls. Reaching double figures in the league this past season was most impressive.

Most important contract extension

Getting Craig Gordon on a new deal was, of course, important, but at this stage of his career (having already returned to his boyhood heroes) it seemed a formality he would eventually sign. Getting Kingsley tied down on a three-and-a-half-year deal, on the other hand, was something not many supporters would have expected prior to its announcement. Having someone so crucial to both attack and defence will be of huge benefit to Hearts as the look to build on the success of this campaign.

Worst moment

There’s few heartaches which can match losing a Scottish Cup final. Hearts were right in the game for 90 minutes, keeping the Europa League finalists scoreless and limiting their opportunities in front of goal. But any chance of them winning the competition was ended when Scott Wright latched on to a through ball and fired past Gordon to complete a quick-fire double for the Ibrox side after Ryan Jack’s spectacular opener. With that the dream was gone.

Funniest moment

“Hibs are falling apart again” sang the Hearts fans during the Scottish Cup semi-final win, which proved almost prophetic when the Easter Road side decided to search for their third permanent manager in the space of a few months as Shaun Maloney was jettisoned after just 19 games. The maroon half of Edinburgh certainly indulged in some schadenfreude after that.

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