Maroon Memories: Robbo equals the derby record

John Robertson (No.9) scores his first of the match by curling a free-kick beyond Andy Goram
John Robertson (No.9) scores his first of the match by curling a free-kick beyond Andy Goram
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EVEN to be mentioned in the same sentence as the great Tynecastle hero, Willie Bauld, will be satisfactory to John Robertson, but the fact that he equalled the Bauld derby scoring record is more than a confirmation of his snapshot talents.

The wee man, whose style is entirely different from Bauld, is building his own legend for the Gorgie followers, one which might even endure as well as that of his brilliant predecessor.

Willie Bauld

Willie Bauld

His double against Hibernian brought his derby total to 14, but his season’s total of 21 keeps him ahead of all challengers in the premier division.

Considering the firepower available in that league - McCoist, Johnston, Gillhaus, Dziekanowski et al - it is quite a tribute to his chance-taking.

It is hard to imagine, if he finishes the season as the league’s leading goal-scorer, how he could be left out of the Scottish pool for Italy.

He came on at half-time in the B team against Yugoslavia last Tuesday and did well, but the competition in his area is fierce.

“I was disappointed at not starting the game, but all I can do is to try to keep playing as well as I can, scoring goals, and leaving the rest to Andy Roxburgh,” he said.

The man enjoying his second term at Tynecastle - he was bought back from Newcastle United for £750,000 - has achieved his top-scoring status after having missed the first six weeks of the season through injury, and if any team regrets his return from the south it must be Hibs.

Yet despite his penchant for scoring against them, they managed to leave him unguarded and free to have a shot at goal early in the second half.

By then he already had scored from a free kick and you might have imagined he would be even more closely attended.

Not so.

From a corner headed on by Dave McPherson he found himself in isolation with only Andy Goram to nod the ball past.

He duly did his business and Hibs were as good as beaten, even if they did conjure up some remarkable misses before the end.

It was a mystified Alex Miller who shook his head at it all afterwards.

His demeanour illustrated the frustrations for a manager whose words clearly have fallen on deaf ears.

They don’t always do what they’re told, these young men.

Robertson was convinced that his first goal, a free kick sent around the defensive wall, would not have beaten a fully fit Goram.

“I think if he had been himself he would have saved it.”

Goram, who had dislocated a finger in training, and had to pull out of the Scotland-Argentina game, may not have been at his fittest - his grimaces late in the second half were evidence of some pain in his hand - but he still did a fine job.

Even better, however, was Henry Smith, his opposite number.

Smith made some tremendous saves as Hibs tried to recapture a game that had slipped away from them.

They had thoroughly deserved their lead through a well-taken Mickey Weir goal, and generally promised a shade more than Hearts.

Their cause was badly hit by the injury suffered by Paul Wright who went off after a harsh tackle by Neil Berry.

Wright, who was having only his fourth outing since joining Hibs from Queen’s Park Rangers for £280,000, may not have much of a season left.

He will be out for at least two weeks with ligament damage.

There were some other tough tackles from both sides, but generally this was just about the best Edinburgh derby of recent times.

The teams made genuine efforts to play the game rather than the man as has invariably been the case in this contest.

Players like John Collins, Weir, and Neil Orr for Hibs, and Eamonn Bannon, McPherson, and Gary Mackay for Hearts were finding space and time to play decent passes, to control the ball and look up (well, almost) and generally give the impression that we were watching a ball game.

At the end Hearts did their European hopes a lot of good and might even have hoisted themselves back into a championship challenging position.

But for a few hiccups this season they have looked a much better, more rounded side, than the one which enjoyed the European experience last season.

Hibs: Goram, Miller, Sneddon, Orr, Cooper, Hunter, Weir, Wright, Houchen, Collins, Mitchell. Substitutes: McGinlay, Findlay.

Hearts: Smith, McLaren, McKinlay, Levein, Berry, McPherson, Colquhoun, Mackay, Robertson, Foster, Bannon. Substitutes: Crabbe, Kirkwood.

Referee: K Hope (Clarkston).

Att: 17,373.