IT is being billed as Salt n’ Sauce – the second helping.
Hibs and Hearts will meet again in the Scottish Cup next month in a match which will see the Easter Road side try to avenge their 5-1 drubbing in May’s historic Cup Final.
And it is not just fans who will be scrambling for tickets for the must-see encounter – referees are also set to battle it out for the right to take charge of the powderkeg derby.
Former top whistler Stuart Dougal told today how the loss of the Old Firm derby due to Rangers’ relegation to the Third Division, means the mouthwatering game at Easter Road has become the biggest in the country.
Ex-Fifa referee Stuart, 50, said: “There is no Glasgow derby any more so the Hibs-Hearts game is now easily the biggest around. All the top referees will be delighted that there’s a game of this size lined up and they’ll all want to ref it. Back when I was refereeing I always thought that the Edinburgh derby was the toughest of the lot anyway. The Old Firm had the worldwide appeal and TV audience but Hibs v Hearts always had more Scottish or British players who really knew what it meant.
“This upcoming Scottish Cup will be just the same. I refereed nine or ten of them and each one was really tough but enjoyable.” Excitement began building as soon as the draw was made for the fourth round of the cup yesterday, with fans of in-form Hibs sensing a chance to restore some bragging rights over their city rivals in the wake of the “Salt n’ Sauce final”.
Incredibly, a dress rehearsal of the draw saw the two sides plucked from the drum to face each other at Tynecastle.
Minutes later and former Celtic striker Jan Venegoor of Hesselink had picked up out the exact same tie again – only this time at Easter Road. As social media sites Twitter and Facebook exploded with reaction from fans and players, the game, which will be played over the weekend of December 1-2, looks certain to be heading for a sell-out.
Ticket allocations have not yet been announced but with Easter Road holding 20,000, Hearts are expected to be allocated 4,000 seats.
The cup showdown is also expected to prove an early festive boon for the city’s pubs and clubs trade as thousands more watch the game on TV. Sky Sports has yet to announce a broadcast time for the game but a slot has been allocated to a Scottish Cup Fourth Round game at 1.15pm on Sunday, December 2. Steve Kilgour, secretary of the Federation of Hearts Supporters’ Clubs, said: “Hibs are the form team but it’s a cup game and it’s about whoever turns up on the day, we always have a stronger big game mentality.”
Mike Riley, chairman of the Hibs Supporters Association, said both sides were completely different to those which took part in the final. He said: “I’m delighted with the draw. Both Hibs and Hearts have changed since last May in terms of both personnel and form. Hopefully we’ll get our bit of revenge and put the holders out of the tournament.”
Festivals champion and diehard Jambo, Councillor Steve Cardownie, said the match would be a “a great day for the city” and a much-needed cash windfall for both clubs.
“Hibs are riding high at the moment but we’ve a great record against them.”
Fellow councillor Stefan Tymkewycz, who described himself as a ‘long suffering Hibs season ticket holder’, said: “The quicker we get revenge the better - particularly after last season’s nightmare.
“Going forward to the game, there is going to be a huge crowd – apart from being a victory for Hibs, it will be a great day for Edinburgh football.”
And there may be a few extra fish suppers bought as well – with salt ‘n’ sauce of course.
McPake in twitter jibe
HIBS skipper James McPake has landed himself in hot water after an online jibe at Edinburgh.
He scored a spectacular own goal on Twitter after branding the city as s**t.
The Northern Irish defender was forced into a humiliating backtrack.
Although he claimed that he stood by his view he said the insult was not solely aimed at Edinburgh – but cities in general. It’s claimed he made the original comment in anger after being refused entry into a city club.
Clubs now warn players about the danger of posting on social sites.
Hibs made favourites by bookies
HIBS have landed the first blow in their bid for revenge against Hearts, as bookmakers William Hill have labelled them favourites.
The Easter Road side are 6/5 favourites to win the match – with Hearts available at 7/4 and the draw at 9/4. Hibs are 8/11 to qualify for the fifth round with Hearts evens.
Hearts are also 100/1 to beat Hibs 5-1, the same score in last season’s Hampden final.
William Hill spokesman Tony Kenny: “We thought it would be a long time before we saw another Scottish Cup tie between Hibs and Hearts. Hibs based on their league form are the favourites to win the match, but anything can happen in an Edinburgh derby.”
Celtic are favourites to win the competition outright with Hearts at 12/1 to retain their crown and Hibs at 16/1. Of the other remaining cup sides from the Lothians, Livingston are 66-1 and face Dundee in the next round while junior club Bonnyrigg Rose 1000/1 to lift the trophy.