What Dundee manager James McPake had to say about 'rivalry' with Hearts and Tynecastle's 'hard bunch of fans'

Dundee manager James McPake has sought to play down the grudge element of his side’s clash with Hearts.
James McPake takes his Dundee side to Tynecastle on Friday night. Picture: SNSJames McPake takes his Dundee side to Tynecastle on Friday night. Picture: SNS
James McPake takes his Dundee side to Tynecastle on Friday night. Picture: SNS

The teams meet at Tynecastle Park on Friday evening in the opening fixture of the 2020/21 Championship campaign.

It is a match which is eagerly-anticipated by fans of both sides, as well as Scottish football in general.

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The encounter takes on extra intrigue following the controversy and tomfoolery around the SPFL resolution vote which ultimately sent Hearts into the second tier.

Dundee’s decision to change their vote won’t be forgotten anytime soon in Gorgie.

However, former Hibs captain McPake has distanced himself from the off-field decisions.

“None of the players or the coaching staff were involved in any decision-making,” he told the Dundee Telegraph.

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“We’re here to take care of the football and that’s what we’ll be doing.

“The rivalry comes from it being two clubs that want to do well and two squads that are wanting to do well. The rivalry’s down to football.”

‘Hard bunch of fans’

The match would have likely been played in front of a full house if fans were allowed into the stadium. However, players, management and officials will be performing in front of a near empty Tynecastle.

Something which frustrates McPake but could be of benefit.

“It’ll be strange playing at an empty Tynecastle,” he said. “It’s a great place to go and play when it’s full. The atmosphere is really good – as good as anywhere in Scotland in my opinion.

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“There, Celtic Park, Ibrox and Easter Road are the ones you enjoy – and the Dundee derbies as well.

“So it’s a shame because you want to go to Tynecastle for the atmosphere it has historically given you.

“They’re a hard bunch of fans to play in front of for the opposition. But they’re a hard bunch of fans when you’re not doing well at that club too. It was the same at Hibs too.

“You can turn the fans there quite quickly as an opposition side.

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“If you go there and things aren’t going right for the home team, it can be hard for them, so it might benefit them having no fans at certain points of the season.”

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