Hearts’ Bobby Burns laments losing bragging rights to ‘great’ brother he was banned from playing with

Bobby Burns is being ordered home by his mum as he gives interviews on the track at Mourneview Park. The 19-year-old has just played for Hearts against former club Glenavon, and most pertinently against younger brother Paddy for the first time. Saturday in Lurgan was a real family affair.

Monday, 8th July 2019, 6:30 am
Bobby Burns came up against his brother Patrick during Hearts' 2-1 defeat by Glenavon. Pic: SNS
Bobby Burns came up against his brother Patrick during Hearts' 2-1 defeat by Glenavon. Pic: SNS

Hearts lost 2-1 in the friendly arranged as part of Burns’ transfer from Glenavon last summer. So, when the teenager did get back to his parents’ house, young Paddy would have been waiting. Such is the way of sibling rivalry.

Burns appreciates that he might not be the competitive animal he is were it not for Paddy’s influence through the years in the garden, on the tennis court and on the XBox. Like many sportsmen, being challenged by his brother drove him on – to the point where mum Therese had to ban them from playing one another.

“We played with each other in school teams, Gaelic football teams and local teams but not in a competitive game. Most of our games were very competitive, though,” smiled Burns, who stayed with family in Northern Ireland on Saturday while team-mates flew home from their Irish tour.

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“There are 15 months between us and we used to be very competitive – whether it was Gaelic, badminton, cards, FIFA, everything. We were banned from playing against each other after a few minor incidents in the house. My mum was pulling her hair out. Thankfully we were both on opposite sides of the pitch on Saturday.”

Burns was a half-time left-back replacement for Aidy White, who played his first game in 30 months after injury. His brother appeared for the last half-hour at left-back for Glenavon. The family have ongoing history with the Lurgan club.

“It was always great to have competition with Patrick,” said Burns. “We used to push each other on. Even just in the back garden, it was great to have somebody to play with.

“Lots of sports like table tennis and tennis need two people so we were always very active. Our other brother, Malachy, is at Glenavon as well. He is a centre-back but he is 15 so he was a bit young to play on Saturday. Maybe one day three of us will play in a game.”

Hearts delivered an underwhelming display as Glenavon forward Stephen Murray and trialist Matthew Ferguson scored in each half before Sean Clare’s late consolation for the visitors. Owner Ann Budge looked on and manager Craig Levein was unimpressed at his team lacking desire at times.

“It’s a nightmare. I’ve lost the bragging rights in the house,” said Burns. “Patrick is a young player coming through at Glenavon. I thought he did well when he came on. Hopefully he can establish a place here.

“It’s frustrating for me not getting the bragging rights but Glenavon did well. I think people underrate the Irish league and the players in it. They are a good side and took their goals well.

“I played 50 games for Glenavon over three years and I have very fond memories. It was great to be back but it was bittersweet with the defeat. We didn’t do ourselves justice and didn’t play well so we have to learn quickly because the season starts again next week. I think we will learn.”

Craig Halkett gave a strong defensive display in his first appearance for the Edinburgh club. Conor Washington was energetic up front and White tried to get forward from left-back. Jamie Walker would also have started but a tight thigh muscle saw him withdraw shortly before kick-off.

Burns has a good chance of facing Dundee United on Friday when Hearts begin their competitive season in the Betfred Cup. “I was happy enough with how I ended last season but I still think there’s more to come. I can play better,” he said.

“I haven’t fulfilled my potential yet. Over the next couple of years, I hope to establish myself in the Hearts team. I’ll just try to progress, see where it takes me and let others make the decisions.

“I don’t mind left-back or midfield. I’ll play in goals to get a game. Openings come up through suspensions, injuries or people leaving. I’ll just try to give my best in any position and stake a claim to try and get in the team.”