Hearts players will either give Tynecastle’s Main Stand a victorious last hurrah or die trying, according to head coach Ian Cathro.
Aberdeen’s visit to Edinburgh tomorrow is the last game in front of the 103-year-old stand, which will be replaced by a £12million modern equivalent over the summer.
Cathro wants three points firstly to help his club’s league challenge. He admitted his squad will also be totally committed to giving the main stand a fitting farewell.
“I think Sunday’s game is not going to be one of the more memorable games that take place in front of this old stand, but it will be the last one so it will be a part of the story. The first and the last will be remembered,” he said.
“We’ll be doing everything that we can, on the pitch, to make sure that it’s signed off in the right way. The bigger nights will be the bigger nights. This won’t be one of the epic moments that’s remembered in front of the stand but we’ll do everything we can to make sure it’s signed off with a victory.
“This is a stadium that everybody relates to. Away fans love it, players from other clubs too – it has an impact on people. It’s a bit iconic, in a way, isn’t it?
“So we respect that not just as footballers and coaches but as people who love the game, love the stories that come from the game. I respect those things. We’ll either give it a final victory or we’ll die on the pitch trying to win.”
The Hearts owner Ann Budge has made a firm commitment to keeping the club in their traditional Gorgie home, something Cathro feels cannot be underestimated.
During coaching spells in Portugal, Spain and England, he encountered many new out-of-town stadiums and harbouring a soulless feeling as a result.
“When you see everyone in Newcastle marching through the city and walking up to St James’ Park, there’s a major buzz just being where it is,” continued Cathro.
“A lot of the more modern grounds in Spain are out of town and you have to drive for 30 miles to get there. It’s four car parks and a field. It does lose something.
“Of course there are reasons why it makes sense but there is a definite value being here – and an emotional value as well, which is important.”
Cathro’s best result at Tynecastle in his six months in charge of Hearts was the 4-1 destruction of Rangers in February. “I don’t know if that counts,” he argued. “It would have counted if we had done it five times in a row.
“No, I won’t have been responsible for any of the stories that have been written and were memorable under this main stand. I just have to make sure I am responsible for some of the new ones.”
After signing defender Aaron Hughes on a 12-month contract extension yesterday, Cathro expects most of Hearts’ other business to take place at the end of the season.
Hughes will be in the squad to face Aberdeen having been absent since February with a calf complaint.
“I would expect most things will be, if not before the end of the season, then right at the end,” he explained. “We’ll have a lot of the things lined up but our focus will remain on the last week of the season, which is very busy, with a lot of games.
“There is time after that. We’re not in a rush to do things. It was important to get Aaron done. His injury has been unfortunate but we’re clear on the blend and the feeling of the team we want to have next season, to be able to really compete. If there are things like this deal that we can do quickly, that really helps.”