Hearts' Elliott Frear hoping to silence Hibs' Christian Doidge on his fifth Hampden visit

Hearts winger Elliott Frear is ready for his fifth outing at Hampden Park.Hearts winger Elliott Frear is ready for his fifth outing at Hampden Park.
Hearts winger Elliott Frear is ready for his fifth outing at Hampden Park.
Frear should not be mistaken for fear. Certainly not this weekend when one particular Hearts winger returns for a Hampden Park encore.

Elliott Frear experienced two wins and two defeats from four visits to Scotland’s national stadium with Motherwell. They beat Rangers and Aberdeen in 2017/18 League Cup and Scottish Cup semi-finals respectively, but lost to Celtic in both finals.

He will reappear in Mount Florida on Saturday hoping to become a hero with new club Hearts against their greatest rivals, Hibs. If that upsets his former Forest Green Rovers colleague and current Hibs striker Christian Doidge, so be it.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Frear signed a one-year contract with Hearts in August and admits the all-Edinburgh cup semi-final “stuck out like a sore thumb” during his initial chats with manager Robbie Neilson.

Frear, left, competes with Moussa Dembele against Celtic in 2018.Frear, left, competes with Moussa Dembele against Celtic in 2018.
Frear, left, competes with Moussa Dembele against Celtic in 2018.

Past endeavours

“The boys who recently signed for Hearts all know that if you score the winner in this game, or come on and do really well, or even set up the goal, you instantly become a hero. That carrot is there for all of us to try and grab,” said the Englishman.

“Ultimately, we have to try and enjoy the game. I think you see the best out of us when we do that.

“We had an unbelievable season getting to two cup finals at Motherwell, and there were two incredible semi-finals along the way. We beat Rangers 2-0 and Aberdeen 3-0 and that stays with you for a long time.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Frear lost out to Celtic in the 2017 Betfred Cup final too.Frear lost out to Celtic in the 2017 Betfred Cup final too.
Frear lost out to Celtic in the 2017 Betfred Cup final too.

“We came up against Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic in the finals and they were really tough. Hopefully this year we can go one step further and win it.

“I didn’t start in any of the semi-finals but I played in both finals. I remember when [Louis] Moult hit that goal against Rangers, it was unbelievable. That did so much for the club and for us as a squad. I’d like to recreate that.

“I’ve won two cup ties at Hampden but the two most important ones I lost. I’ve got two runners-up medals so now I want a winner’s one.

“I’ve kept the runners-up medals because for me, having played non-league down south, getting a medal in a national cup final in Scotland was an achievement. It was a proud moment for me and I really enjoyed playing in the games.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Familiar foe

Frear is well acquainted with lower-level English football. His CV is adorned by names like Tiverton Town, Salisbury City and Forest Green. “I’ve played with Doidgey at Forest Green and he’s a threat. He is really good in the air,” he said of the Hibs forward.

“We both did quite well down south and he is doing well up here now. I’m really pleased for him but hopefully he doesn’t score on Saturday. I haven’t spoken to him this week yet. I’ll leave that until after the game.

“[Martin] Boyle’s pace is a big threat as well. I think we will be evenly matched on Saturday. It’s just about who takes their chances.”

‘I could’ve done better’

That sentiment also applies on a personal level. With fellow winger Josh Ginnelly an injury doubt, Frear could find himself starting on a wide and inviting Hampden surface. It is the kind of platform a pacey winger craves.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Perhaps even more so after an unremarkable performance at Arbroath in the league last week. “A few of us weren’t happy with our performances, especially me. I thought I could have done a lot better. We got the result in the end but I’ve tried to keep things simple this week,” said Frear.

“I felt I had a good pre-season and I feel fit. Hampden is a good big pitch and hopefully we can use that to our advantage. Robbie has brought in some quick wide players and tried to change the style of play from how Hearts played last year.

“I think Hampden will suit me. Last Friday was tough at Arbroath. The pitch was tough and we had meeting before the game at the hotel where Robbie put something up on a projector showing that Arbroath had the third best home record in Scotland.

“That shows the whole full-time/part-time thing goes out of the window. The pitch was really soft and the wind was up. Now we are about to play at Hampden, I’ve been there before and it’s a big pitch.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“When you win there, it’s brilliant. When you lose, it’s not great. We want to get off to a good start, get running in behind and score some goals.”

Not feeling the noise

Winning there is normally so exhilarating because of fan reaction. Sadly, there will be no such noise on Saturday.

“The gaffer tried to get a lot of pre-season games for us to generate an atmosphere between ourselves. We have enough experience to deal with it. Now it’s about getting our heads down and trying to win the game,” explained Frear

“If you have a little 20-minute lull in games, fans can get you through it. So it’s tough with no-one there but that’s the way it is. We are all just glad to be back playing at the end of the day.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Hibs have had a good start to the season and they have some decent players. I think everyone in our squad has looked over the past few weeks and realised we are a strong team as well.

“With Hibs already playing 12 league games and us only two games in, it doesn’t really matter. The magnitude of the tie and the rivalry will go out of the window. It’s 11 versus 11 on Saturday with everyone trying to win.”

Read More
Bruno Aguiar recalls how Hearts ‘destroyed’ Hibs and calls for 2026 reunion

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our sports coverage with a digital sports subscription.