Ian Cathro aims to give Hearts’ main stand one last hurrah

24/02/17 
 ORIAM - EDINBURGH 
 Hearts' Aaron Hughes looks ahead to his side's game against Partick Thistle
24/02/17 ORIAM - EDINBURGH Hearts' Aaron Hughes looks ahead to his side's game against Partick Thistle
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As an editorial in tomorrow’s souvenir match programme notes, two world wars have been and gone, as have 20 prime ministers, since Hearts kicked-off life in front of their Tynecastle main stand in August 1914.

A last link with a First World War-era Tynecastle is set to crumble when the new main stand, already beginning to envelop the current Archibald Leitch-designed original, finally consumes its red-bricked prey.

Since it opened in time for a 2-0 win over Celtic, the structure has stood the test of time and outlasted initial 
predictions.

So the hope from a Hearts point of view is that they can gift it one last match to savour against Aberdeen tomorrow.

The Tynecastle club have gone to town to mark the occasion, with players wearing commemorative strips featuring a motif of the main stand stitched into the chest.

“We’ll do everything we can to make sure it’s signed 
off with a victory,” said Ian Cathro yesterday.

“This is a stadium that everybody relates to,” added the head coach. “Away fans love it, players from other clubs too – it has an impact on people.

“I respect those things. We’ll either give it a final victory or we’ll die on the pitch trying 
to win.”

Other than this bold promise Cathro was not getting too swept up in the emotion of the occasion. He is conscious how important it is to bid farewell with a positive result. But he knows that beating Aberdeen to, perhaps, draw nearer to St Johnstone in the race for fourth place won’t in itself set pulses racing.

It certainly won’t, for example, rival beating Bayern Munich in the Uefa Cup 28 years ago, one of the games highlighted in a “main stand memories” feature in tomorrow’s indispensable matchday programme. But there’s a greater significance beyond the potential three points.

“I think Sunday’s game is not going to be one of the more memorable games that have taken place in front of this old stand,” accepted Cathro. “But it will be the last one. So it will be a part of the story. The first and the last will be remembered. We’ll be doing everything that we can, on the pitch, to make sure that it’s signed off in the right way.”

No one expected Cathro, for whom tomorrow – superstitious Hearts fans be warned – is home match No 13, to reel off memories of the old Archibald Leitch structure.

But he can at least recall one match when the denizens of the main stand were at their feet-drumming-on-the-wooden-floor, excitable best, in the 4-1 victory over Rangers in February.

However, Cathro won’t accept praise for that emphatic victory and is alert to how form has since faded. The head coach has won just four of these 13 matches at Tynecastle since replacing Robbie Neilson.

“I don’t know if that counts,” he said, with reference to the most recent Rangers win. “It would have counted if we had done it five times in a row. But no, I won’t have been responsible for any of the stories that have been written and were memorable under this the main stand. I just have to make sure I am responsible for some of the new ones.”

Cathro wanted to look ahead, and 37-year-old defender Aaron Hughes’ decision to sign for another year is a welcome sign of permanence as the wrecking ball prepares to swing and Hearts prepare to enter a 
summer of hectic transfer activity.

Hughes has played just eight times after injuring his calf following his arrival in January but has still managed to impress. He looks set to return for tomorrow’s emotion-packed clash.

The new deal takes Hughes neatly up to the World Cup finals in Russia. With Northern Ireland currently in good shape to qualify, Hughes is 
relishing the prospect of a busy 12 months.

“Before I even came to Hearts my thoughts, without having anything nailed down, were if I could come back and get six months and play a bit of football and prove I could still do it, so to speak, and get that 
further year,” he said.

“It enabled me to still stay involved with Northern 
Ireland.

“We are having a good run at the minute and we’re in a good position in the group,” he added. “And if I can keep myself fit and playing at a good level, which this is, it will hopefully keep me involved through to the end of the World Cup 
campaign, too.

“So it was a big influence on my decision to keep playing, and then also to stay at a club like this.”