The derby stakes are high for Hearts

Gary Locke knows how important a win on Sunday will be to the Hearts fans. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Gary Locke knows how important a win on Sunday will be to the Hearts fans. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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FORMER Tynecastle hero Colin Cameron insists Hearts wouldn’t want to go through a whole season without beating ANY team – not least Capital rivals Hibs.

Eleven seasons have past since the Jambos last went through an entire campaign without recording a win over the Hibees but, with three draws and one defeat behind them this term, Gary Locke and Co go into this weekend’s clash in Gorgie needing victory to avoid a repeat of a disappointing 2000/01 campaign which ended with three draws and an infamous 6-2 defeat at Easter Road.

And Cameron knows no-one will be more determined to 
secure a win than his old Hearts team-mate Locke.

“As far as the players go, you don’t want to go through a season without winning against ANY team,” admitted ‘Mickey’. “Because of that, the Hearts players will be even more 
determined to win this derby.

“Obviously, Hearts will be desperate to avoid going through the whole season without a win against Hibs and Gary is the right man to be steering them.

“He will have the players all fired up – there is no doubt about that.

“He is passionate about the club and was the natural man to take over as he has been at the club long enough, knows how it works, knows the chairman, and knows what it means. Everything that he does is in the best interests of Hearts.

“They have got some good young players coming through the ranks and playing regularly in the first team now. Things are up in the air for them at the moment off the field but you have got to give the players and Gary credit, especially the younger boys, to have been able to keep going the way they have.”

This season sees both Edinburgh sides in the bottom half of the table for the first time since the introduction of the SPL split. While there appears little at stake other than the final standings, Cameron reckons both sets of supporters will be as keen as ever for their side to bag the bragging rights in their final clash of the season.

Cowdenbeath manager Cameron, who played in the Jambos’ midfield for five years between 1996 and 2001, insisted: “People can tell you that this is a meaningless game but I don’t believe that for a minute - and neither will the Hearts or the Hibs fans.

“It doesn’t matter what is coming up or what has been before - this is an Edinburgh derby we’re talking about.

“The league position and the fact that Hibs have got a cup final coming up will be put to the back of their minds. It will be the usual hammer and tongs, everyone giving their all to get the three points.”

Cameron has watched with interest as Hearts have trimmed their squad in a bid to become self-sufficient, with players such as Darren Barr and Danny Grainger being told that their contracts won’t be renewed, while big-earners like Marius Zaliukas are also heading for pastures new.

Cameron, who led Cowdenbeath to First Division safety following a final-day escape act last weekend, said: “Financially, it is getting tougher every year.

“The majority of managers will have to get the highest earners off the books to keep clubs afloat and you might not be able to bring in players of the same standard.

“When I was playing there was a fair bit more money around and players were kind of in the driving seat. Now though, there are so many boys out there trying to get clubs that it’s the clubs who are in control.”

Cameron is likely to be forced into making changes to his Blue Brazil squad for next season as the uncertainty over the future of Dunfermline Athletic has left him unable to tie up players on contracts.

The East End Park club – currently in administration – slipped into the end-of-season play-offs as Cowdenbeath dramatic win at Hamilton saw them leapfrog the Pars into eight spot while Jim Jefferies’ side slumped to a shock home defeat to Airdrie United.

“At the moment, I only have a couple of young players signed,” he added. “Although we are in the process of talking to players, we can’t offer them contracts because we are having to wait to see what happens with Dunfermline first.

“It will have a financial impact on us because, with all due respect to the other teams, the games against them would bring in more of a crowd than others.

“I have spoken to players and told them I will be offering them contracts but in terms of money, I can’t make them any promises yet.

“It’s the way things are going at the moment and there will be more and more players out there because everyone will be trimming their squads.

“I am going to try to get as many of my players re-signed as possible, but it is just a waiting game right now.”