Hearts won't forget Dundee's role in their demotion as fans prepare to vent anger

Dundee manager James McPake and his Hearts counterpart Robbie Neilson.Dundee manager James McPake and his Hearts counterpart Robbie Neilson.
Dundee manager James McPake and his Hearts counterpart Robbie Neilson.
Dundee can expect a hostile reception at Tynecastle Park this weekend when they encounter Hearts fans for the first time since consigning the Edinburgh club to relegation.

Dens Park officials delivered the casting vote in an embarrassing email ballot which demoted Hearts to the Championship last summer, an episode no-one in Gorgie has forgotten.

Ahead of Saturday’s fixture between the clubs, manager Robbie Neilson told the Evening News it is important his players remember those events and the subsequent legal battle in Edinburgh’s Court of Session.

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Supporters were denied access to last season’s matches between Hearts and Dundee in the second tier because games were behind closed doors amid the Covid pandemic. Hearts won 6-2 and 2-1 at home but sandwiched in between was a 3-1 loss on Tayside.

With restrictions lifted, a crowd of around 18,000 is anticipated at Tynecastle for what is likely to be a volatile affair due to lingering anger.

“We know Dundee will be up for it coming to Tynecastle,” said Neilson. “We are unbeaten so far and Dundee will want to be the first team to win against us, but we have our own motivations as well.

“Not only in the league this season, but the historical stuff last year is something that we need to make sure we remember going into the game. I think there will be a good atmosphere on the day, let’s say that.

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“Hopefully we can match that on the pitch. We played Dundee in the Championship at Tynecastle last season and got two good results but there were no fans there.

“Even without supporters, you still felt the build-up externally. Bumping into fans, you knew it was an important one for them and I’m sure it will be the same on Saturday.”

Dundee won their first league game of the season on Saturday against Aberdeen. “They’ve got Charlie Adam back, a really big player for them. He is the main player in their midfield and he’s got great delivery of the ball,” Neilson pointed out.

“Then they have Leigh Griffiths up front so they have that experience allied to a pretty settled team. I know the lad [Shaun] Byrne got an injury on Saturday so I don’t know if he will be available. Other than that, they have a pretty settled team.”

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