Derek Riordan on why it matters for Hibs to finish above Hearts again
Derek Riordan believes it will do wonders for the mood around Hibs if they can finish ahead of Hearts for a second successive season.
The Easter Road club haven’t properly enjoyed Edinburgh bragging rights for two years running since Alex Miller’s side completed both the 1993/94 and 1994/95 campaigns above their city rivals.
The only time in the intervening period that Hibs have finished higher than Hearts two years in a row was in 2012/13 and 2013/14, although the gloss was taken off this feat by the fact both were relegated in the second of those seasons, when the Tynecastle side accumulated more points than Terry Butcher’s team but were docked 15 points for entering administration.
After finishing 18 clear of the Gorgie side last term, however, Hibs have a rare chance this weekend to conclude a second consecutive campaign above Hearts.
Paul Heckingbottom’s fifth-place team are three points clear of Craig Levein’s side and also boast a vastly superior goal difference, so they will be assured of completing the season as Edinburgh’s top dogs as long as their result at Kilmarnock on Saturday at least matches that of Hearts at Aberdeen tomorrow night.
Riordan, who scored more than 100 goals over two spells with Hibs, feels such a scenario would give supporters of his old club good reason for cheer at the end of a campaign when they have missed out on a return to Europe. “It’s always good if Hibs can finish ahead of Hearts and get the bragging rights for the city,” said Riordan, a boyhood Hibs supporter.
“It’s the same with every club in every city, whether it’s Rangers and Celtic or Hearts and Hibs, you always want to finish above your rivals. It’s always going to be tough for Hibs and Hearts to win the league, so to finish above each other is probably one of the main targets, along with trying to qualify for Europe. As a Hibs fan, you always want to finish above Hearts.”
Riordan, who helped Hibs finish ahead of Hearts under Tony Mowbray in 2004/05, feels the Easter Road team are currently superior to their city rivals.
“It seems to turn around quite a lot between Hibs and Hearts,” said the 36-year-old former striker. “Hibs have a good team for a few years, then it turns back to Hearts for a few years. It seems to go back and forward between them but I think Hibs are certainly the better team at the moment. Paul Heckingbottom’s done a brilliant job since he’s come in. He’s put his mark on the team.
“In terms of next season, it will come down to who uses their budget better. I’m sure Hearts will try and strengthen again but Hibs will do the same. Heckingbottom will want the chance to bring some of his own players in so it will come down to who brings in the better players.”