ANYONE hoping they’d be served up a traditional Sunday roast for dinner in the west side of Edinburgh yesterday would surely have been bitterly disappointed.
Sales of aluminium foil must have gone through the roof in Gorgie as almost every single scrap of the silver stuff was snapped up by Hearts fans to forge cardboard versions of the Scottish Cup.
While some of their creative skills could have been called into question, they carried on regardless and brought all shapes and sizes of home-made trophies, beach balls and the inflatable numbers five and one.
But it was those who chose to stay away who surely must have felt like a bunch of balloons at the end of the game. Just 12,887 saw an entertaining 90 minutes at Easter Road but many more may wish they had made the effort. While the football on offer may have been scrappy at times there was real fight and passion from both teams and, on this occasion at least, the Edinburgh rivals were evenly matched.
Nothing but doom and gloom has been predicted for the top flight following the departure of Rangers but this battle was well worth the entrance money.
The Hearts end was always going to be jam-packed but, following the humiliation of their Scottish Cup defeat back in May, Hibs fans chose to stay away in their thousands.
In the Famous Five stand there were gaping holes in the crowd and the new East Stand was also far from full.
And, with the memory of that 5-1 defeat at Hampden still fresh in the mind, who could blame them.
The Hibs fans feared there would be a repeat of that rout, while commentators and former players predicted one.
But, in the end, there was never any danger of lightning striking Pat Fenlon’s side twice.
Before the match Hearts were determined to make the most of their early chance to rub the Scottish Cup victory in Hibs’ faces.
They cheered, they sang, they taunted their opponents in the build-up to kick-off but when referee Willie Collum blew his whistle Hibs, slowly but surely, set about turning their neighbours’ volume down a few decibels.
The home side dominated the opening 45 minutes, despite throwing away the opening goal when Alan Maybury’s poor header put goalkeeper Ben Williams in trouble and Andrew Driver in dreamland.
And, while last season their heads may have gone down, this time Hibs refused to let that early setback get the better of them, and their supporters, who could see the effort their players were putting in, responded. Both the players and those in the stands were still hurting from their cup defeat, that much was obvious. And when Hibs hit back right on the stroke of half-time through Leigh Griffiths, the Hibs supporters who were there roared with a mixture of joy and relief.
While both sets of fans would have preferred to have earned the bragging rights, the 1-1 draw kept each side of the Edinburgh divide happy: Hearts got their chance to gloat before the game, while Hibs got their chance to restore a bit of pride during it.
Fenlon knows that his side will have to do much more to entice the Hibs fans back to Easter Road in numbers but if they can reproduce the grit and determination that they showed in this derby they will be well on their way.