TOM Taiwo knows far more about derbies as a spectator than as a player – having grown up as a Leeds fan, he has attended matches between his club and Manchester United, but as a player he has experienced nothing bigger than the clash of Carlisle and Preston.
When he makes his Edinburgh derby debut tomorrow, however, he will have a fair idea of what to expect, thanks to extensive briefings from team-mate Leigh Griffiths and Hibs kit lady Joyce McCourt. “I’ve been told to expect mayhem,” the midfielder said. “They say it’s a crazy affair with high passion and high energy. It’s all everyone has been talking about for days. It’s been drummed into us that our derby record is not too good against Hearts. Everyone’s been talking about it, especially Leigh. Every time Hearts play Leigh looks for their score and when they lose he’s happy.
“It’s the first result he looks for, but it was actually Joyce who told me all about the derby. When I arrived here she was really helpful to me and she gave me an introduction to the history of the club. The first thing she told me was about the reception she gets on the bench at Tynecastle. I don’t think I want to be on the bench for that one.
“She’s talked about our record against Hearts and I’ve said ‘no pressure, I’ll do my best.’ She did say it’s been a long time [since Hibs won] and the manner of performances haven’t been up to the standards the fans expect. That’s the first thing: we need to put in a performance and hopefully the result will come.”
Taiwo joined Hibs on a two-year deal in September, after the 1-1 draw with Hearts in the SPL. In the intervening three months he has learned just how badly the club’s supporters want a victory against their rivals after the humiliation of their 5-1 defeat in the Scottish Cup final in May. “I watched the highlights of the final on television,” he said. “The fans weren’t happy, the players weren’t happy, but we want to put that right.
“It’s not about revenge. It’s about putting things right and showing how far we have come as a team.
“We’ve come full circle since then in terms of our league position, and hopefully getting that result on Sunday will show how far we have come as a team.”