Hearts 5 Hibs 1, 2002: Recounting the Mark de Vries demolition derby

Hearts' Mark De Vries celebrates his second goal against Hibs at Tynecastle on August 11, 2002. De Vries scored four times in the 5-1 rout. Pic: Andrew StuartHearts' Mark De Vries celebrates his second goal against Hibs at Tynecastle on August 11, 2002. De Vries scored four times in the 5-1 rout. Pic: Andrew Stuart
Hearts' Mark De Vries celebrates his second goal against Hibs at Tynecastle on August 11, 2002. De Vries scored four times in the 5-1 rout. Pic: Andrew Stuart
Four-goal Dutchman became instant cult hero at Tynecastle

Ten years before their famous Scottish Cup final win of 2012, another 5-1 derby scoreline was forever etched into the memories of Hearts fans.

Hibs were the visitors on the second day of the 2002-2003 season as Tynecastle undoubtedly witnessed the greatest home debut Scottish football has ever seen.

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Mark de Vries, signed on a free transfer from Dutch club Dordrecht in the summer, had made an inconspicuous first impression from the bench during the opening day draw with Dundee at Dens Park.

But a week later, the towering striker became an instant cult hero in his first start for the Gorgie club, scoring four goals in a one-man demolition of their Edinburgh rivals to write his name into the history books.

He was ably supported by another new signing, former Luton Town winger Jean-Louis Valois, whose virtuoso performance would have grabbed the headlines were it not for the domineering Dutchman.

De Vries even had a hand in the only goal he didn’t score, his physical presence alone causing the Hibs centre-halves to misjudge a kick-out from Anti Niemi, enabling Andy Kirk to race clear and lob the ball beyond Tony Caig for the opener.

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Valois then superbly set-up de Vries for Hearts’ second five minutes before half-time with a stunning outside-of-the-boot flick sending the ball over the Hibs defence for the striker to control before crashing an unstoppable shot in via the underside of the bar.

Hibs briefly threatened a comeback early in the second half when Ian Murray headed home, but de Vries struck again on 66 minutes, rolling the ball into the empty net after Valois saw a volley saved.

The frantic pace of his first Edinburgh derby was beginning to catch-up with a tiring de Vries, but despite heavy legs, the 6ft 4in giant struck twice more in injury-time to turn an already memorable day into a momentous one, brilliantly cutting inside and clipping a finish past Caig for his hat-trick before nodding in at the back post in the final act of the game.

“This was a dream,” admitted de Vries. “I hope, however, that the fans don’t expect four goals every week! I thought I was being taken off 20 minutes from time because I had cramp in both legs but I’m glad I was left on.”

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The performance of his new signing had Hearts boss Craig Levein jumping for joy on the Tynecastle touchline.

“We took a 6-2 doing at Easter Road two seasons ago, before I arrived at the club, so this result today was for our fans,” he said.

Hearts would go on to finish third that season and qualify for Europe.

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