Hearts-Hibs derby won’t faze Jonathan Spector – not after West Ham v Millwall
Jonathan Spector has insisted he won’t be fazed by the prospect of an Edinburgh derby after experiencing a white-hot London clash with saw three pitch invasions and riot police in the streets outside.
A trip to Tynecastle will be one of the first matches for veteran defender Spector who has signed a short-term contract with Hibs as head coach Paul Heckingbottom seeks to seal not only a top-six finish but to overhaul city rivals Hearts.
But, as intense as the atmosphere is likely to be in Gorgie on April 6, Spector believes it won’t come close to an explosive League Cup tie between London rivals West Ham and Millwall at Upton Park nearly a decade ago.
The 33-year-old American internationalist revealed the match was “an eye opener” for his wife Olivia as she attended a match on this side of the Atlantic for the first time as the Hammers came from behind to win in extra-time, his team-mate Junior Stanislas equalising three minutes from time before putting them on their way to a 3-1 victory from the penalty spot.
The former Manchester United, Charlton and Birmingham defender said: “I have been fortunate enough to play in a number of derbies. In fact, the first game my wife ever went to in English football was West Ham v Millwall.
“We hadn’t played each other in a few years. I think there were three separate pitch invasions. It went to extra time and we ended up winning, but that was her first experience of European football for that matter, so it was eye-opening for her. She’s used to it now so she won’t be too shocked.”
Although Hibs have only eight matches remaining – three of them coming before the split by which time they’ll hope to have confirmed a place in the top six – Spector is determined to play as big a part as possible in achieving that goal.
Insisting it will be an exciting end to the season, he said: “Don’t get me wrong, I’m here to play. That’s my target. Obviously there are talented players already here, but all I can do is make the most of my opportunity when it comes and contribute to the team.
“If it’s a case of just pushing on other players, then that’s what I’ll do.”
Although he has been training with Heckingbottom’s squad for the past three weeks as he hones his fitness having not played since September when he left his last club, MLS outfit Orlando City, Spector is likely to be involved in Monday’s reserve league match against Ross County before, he hopes, he’s involved in the following Friday night’s Premiership game away to Livingston.