Graham Weir out to add cup heroics to Edinburgh derby glory

Graham Weir, celebrating his equaliser against Forfar, dedicates each goal to his brother Jim. Picture: SNS
Graham Weir, celebrating his equaliser against Forfar, dedicates each goal to his brother Jim. Picture: SNS
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  • Striker aims to add cup heroics to his Hearts’ derby legend
  • Weight has increased but he insists he doesn’t eat all the pies
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He once scored a title-clinching goal at Hampden and starred, along with brother Steven, in the Stirling Albion side that condemned Rangers to their first non top-flight defeat four years ago.

Don’t let anyone tell you Graham Weir deserves to be remembered only for an admittedly stunning cameo in an Edinburgh derby. However, the player himself accepts this is what he is chiefly known for.

So, when he popped up two weekends ago to score yet another dramatic equaliser, this time for Linlithgow Rose against Forfar Athletic in the Scottish Cup, his contribution drew two responses from those who had lost track of 
his career.

The first was: So that’s where Graham Weir is now. The second was: Blimey, what’s happened to his teeth?

Weir took time out yesterday from his job as a delivery driver for Greggs bakers to flesh out the details for those wondering about his movements since he made it Hearts 4 
Hibs 4 in the dying moments of a classic encounter 13 years ago. Seconds earlier he had made it 4-3 in a cameo that entered Gorgie legend.

Ten-man Linlithgow Rose’s recent comeback from 3-1 down against Forfar did not inspire quite so many headlines but was almost as 
dramatic.

The teams meet again tonight at Station Park as they battle for the right to face Ross County in the fifth round. Weir, who begins work at 6am each morning, has already packed a kit bag that includes brother Steven’s pair of Adidas Ace boots.

He has been given the green light to keep the boots after picking them up on the morning of the first game with Forfar. “He can afford to buy a new pair, I cannae,” says Weir, of his younger brother, who plays for Armadale Thistle. “I went up for a cup of tea at my mum’s and saw the boots under the kitchen table. I knew his game was off and I just thought: ‘I will take these’. They worked a treat.”

The next morning’s papers carried photographs of Weir celebrating while looking like an extra in the new Di Caprio film, The Revenant. His hair is as long as his beard is grizzly, while his gummy smile is also startling.

Not so evident was the private pain of Weir having lost his older brother Jim, who passed away in the summer at the age of just 32 after complications resulting from a brain cyst.

“He and my mum were in the crowd at the Hibs game when I scored the two goals,” says Weir. “He used to go to them all and support whatever team I played for.

“It has been a hard, hard year, especially at Christmas and New Year. Bringing in the new year was hard without my elder brother. But you have to get on with it.”

He now dedicates each goal he scores to Jim and there are still miles left in his career to run. But Weir knows work and family commitments mean he can only go on playing so long.

“People forget how old I am getting!” he exclaims. “I am 31. I’m feeling every year as well. I had my debut when I was 17 and obviously scored those two goals when I was 19. It seems a long time ago – it is a long time ago.”

The lack of front teeth is the consequence of a career mostly spent in the hard-knock environment below the top flight. A cracked cheekbone at Queen of the South, a broken jaw at Raith, where he scored the goal that secured the Division Two title in 2009 against Queen’s Park before then going off to celebrate his stag night.

Some dentures meant he could smile with confidence for the cameras on the big day itself. But he doesn’t play with the mouth plate in. “You keep breaking the teeth all the time, and it is expensive,” he explains. “I don’t want to keep going to the dentist. You could choke on them as well.”

The injury that could be described as career-defining is the one he sustained at Hearts, on his 21st birthday. It was on the club’s pre-season tour of Ireland before the 2005-06 campaign, against St Patrick’s Athletic: “It took eight months to heal. There were two changes of manager by the time I got back to being fit.

“[George] Burley was in charge when I broke my leg. Then [Graham] Rix came in and then it was [Valdas] Ivanauskas by the time I got back. He did not know anything about me, had not seen me train or play. So things might have been different.

“But the calibre of player they were bringing in, like [Roman] Bednar and [Edgaras] Jankauskas, maybe I would not have played anyway,” he adds.

So who knows what else Weir might have achieved? Fuller of figure now, he jokes he must resist reaching behind him to grab a pie as the tempting aroma fills the driver’s compartment of his Greggs van.

“I deliver sandwich mixes, juice, sausage rolls, pies and crisps,” he says. “People probably think that’s why I have put on weight. There is a café at work but you have to bring in your own lunch – you can’t just help yourself!”