Martin Boyle on scoring for Hibs at Tynecastle, splitting the Old Firm, abuse from fans, and winning awards
Martin Boyle is only too aware of what it feels like to score for Hibs in an Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle.
After all, he managed it twice in the same game during his last visit to Gorgie with the Easter Road side in December 2019, as Jack Ross secured victory in his first derby in charge.
“It would be great if it was like last time because that was a great occasion and we have great memories from it,” the Scottish Premiership’s Player of the Month for August said.
“That was one of my best games, although I didn’t play as well as I wanted to despite scoring two goals. It’s memories like that that people remember and look back at."
Boyle’s form in front of goal has helped Hibs to the summit of the league in the early part of the campaign and while he is eager to continue his fine run in EH11 he knows that Hearts will provide stern opposition with Robbie Neilson guiding the Jam Tarts to the same points total so far as Hibs with just goal difference separating the rivals.
“I want to create more memories and score more goals there, but we know how challenging it’s going to be. We know we’ll have to be at the top of our game,” he added.
“I think it will be more difficult this time; both teams have started well and there is a buzz about the city. We are looking forward to it.
“It’s great for Edinburgh, it adds more spice to the game and we will be going there looking to win. But it’s the same for Hearts, they will be feeling that as well.
“It would be nice to beat them and I’m sure they will be thinking the same about us so it goes both ways.
“Nothing will be won or lost here, but it will be bragging rights and a chance to go to the top of the table.”
The 28-year-old sparked fears among Hibs fans when he limped out of Australia’s clash with China midway through the second half but after missing the Socceroos’ next World Cup qualifier against Vietnam in Hanoi, Boyle is ready to pick up where he left off for his club.
“I came off in the China game as a precaution and missed the game against Vietnam for the same reason. It was better to miss one game than miss several games,” he explained.
“I have been back in seeing everyone. We are well looked after [on international duty] and get good flights so as long as you can get a sleep, then it’s not too much of a problem.
“I haven’t been in international squads that much so I haven’t trained as much as other boys but it has been great, I have enjoyed it.”
There were never any difficult conversations with the club about travelling such long distances given the background of the Covid-19 pandemic?
“There wasn’t any pressure, as long as everyone is getting tested and the protocols are right then it’s fine,” Boyle said.
“Obviously it would be a different story if the club asked me not to go. But thankfully I managed to get there and get back.
"It was a full squad, all the protocols were in place and it was a good trip for us.”
Benefits of a full house
With supporters due to attend Sunday’s game in their numbers, there should be an electric atmosphere at the game, which Boyle is looking forward to.
“We have missed the fans a lot so I am kind of looking forward to taking a bit of abuse from the home fans,” he laughed.
“It’s great we will have fans there, it adds to the atmosphere and it’s great to see.
“Away fans at a derby game is everything, it’s fantastic and it’s what makes those games a special occasion – the atmosphere will be amazing for everyone involved.”
Splitting the Old Firm?
It’s early days but with the Capital rivals topping the table there has been the inevitable question about splitting the Old Firm…
"It’s always something you try to do but over the last few years it has not been as easy as that. With the squads they have and the backing they have, it’s always going to be challenging for the other teams,” Boyle admitted.
“But we have started well. It’s always important for teams like us to take it game by game but if we keep getting results and can take points off them we’d be in a fantastic position.
“At the same time, if we can get more consistency than last season then as a club we’d certainly be up there.”
Boyle goes into Sunday’s match with four goals in the first four Scottish Premiership matches, and eight goals in ten games in all competitions. His form last month earned him the monthly award with Hearts boss Robbie Neilson scooping the managerial version – a reflection on how well both clubs are doing.
Boyle has paid tribute to his team-mates for their part in his award.
“I don’t think things can get much better – it’s a nice feeling,” he agreed. “Hopefully these accolades and rewards will keep coming.
“On a personal level I’m delighted to get the award; it means I’m doing well and the club is doing well.
“It’s for my team-mates and the club too, they have put the platform in place for everything. Is this as good a start to a season as I’ve had? I’d say so.
“My time at Montrose was successful but this is a much more competitive league."
After posting his best goals and assists numbers last season, the irrepressible attacker was keen to pick up where he left off.
“The thing for me was to come back from pre-season, add more goals and assists to my game,” Boyle stated.
“I have done that so far, I feel like I’m in a good place and everything is good.”