Jack Ross has his say on Hampden v Murrayfield for Hearts-Hibs cup semi-final

Head coach relaxed over last-four venue but backs national stadium

By David Hardie
Tuesday, 3rd March 2020, 5:55 am
Jack Ross has had his say over the venue for Hibs' semi-final against Hearts
Jack Ross has had his say over the venue for Hibs' semi-final against Hearts

Hibs head coach Jack Ross admitted he was “relaxed” as to where the Scottish Cup semi-final with capital rivals Hearts will be played - but insisted Hampden still holds that allure for players and managers alike.

The cup draw has, naturally, provoked the predictable debate over using Murrayfield to host the game rather than have tens of thousands of fans travel from Edinburgh to Glasgow for the match.

But Ross, who twice led Sunderland to Wembley last season only to lose in the Football League Trophy final and the League One play off, insisted taking a team to the national football stadium was something special.

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And he questioned the “sporting integrity” of taking the game to the home of Scottish Rugby given Hearts had used the stadium while the main stand at Tynecastle was being rebuilt.

He said: “It doesn’t make much difference preparing your team to play in different stadiums. Whatever ground the game is played in there would be a big crowd. That will be terrific and I’m relaxed about it.

“It’s interesting how we have these debates regularly. Sometimes it’s to do with the size of the crowd, sometimes it’s about geography. But it’s not that difficult a country to get around. It’s not huge.

'It's traditional, it's the national stadium'

“In England, all the semi-finals are at Wembley when in the past that used to not be the case. We’ve just had a cup final between Manchester Cityand Aston Villa in London this past weekend and I know from experience it’s a bigger country to get around.

“It’s the national stadium, traditionally we play semi-finals and finals there. So be it. We get on with it.

“I know Hampden has its critics as a venue but it still generates a terrific atmosphere when there’s a passionate crowd. I don’t think anyone can debate that.

“It still holds that allure for players and as a manager it’s no different. I was lucky enough to lead my team out twice at Wembley. It’s something I never got to do as a player and it’s something I never thought I would do as a manager.

Hearts 'have experience' of playing at Murrayfield

“It was sore in terms of how the two games went but it will live with me for a long time. The opportunity to take a team to the national stadium - hopefully twice in the same season is something special.”

A semi-final at Hampden would also, believes Ross, help those players who haven’t played there before to familiarise themselves with the stadium with the obvious hope being they’d be returning for the final itself against either Celtic or Aberdeen.

He said: “Any familiarity with a stadium is helpful. Hearts have a lot more experience of playing at Murrayfield than we have. It would not make a huge difference but if you are looking at it simply from a sporting integrity point of view, if you like, they have certainly had more experience of playing in that stadium and on that pitch.”