DARREN BARR admits he will spare a thought for John McGlynn as he heads out of the Hampden tunnel on Sunday.
Hearts have the chance to lift the season’s first silverware of the season when they face St Mirren in the final of the Scottish Communities League Cup, but through all of the excitement in the build-up to the match, Barr believes the Hearts players will all take time to acknowledge the contribution of McGlynn, a lifelong Hearts supporter, to their cup run.
The former Raith boss parted company with Hearts a fortnight ago after a poor run of league form, so interim manager Gary Locke will lead the team out at Hampden.
While Barr has been impressed by the start Locke has made in the role, he conceded that McGlynn will be at the forefront of many players’ minds this week. Barr said: “I would imagine we will all have a wee thought for John McGlynn this week, in the dressing room before the game or as we go out onto the pitch at Hampden. He gave us a lot and he was a real Hearts supporter. It was a sore one for him and for the rest of us to take. He did so much for us, but it just wasn’t to be.”
Barr admits there has been a real buzz around the Hearts squad over the past week or so, first with the build-up to last weekend’s Edinburgh derby and now looking ahead to the first cup final of the season.
Last May’s Scottish Cup final thrashing of Hibs is still fresh in his memory and the former Falkirk player believes the celebrations from that day will be more than enough to fire the Hearts squad up for this one. He said: “When you’re growing up you dream of the chance of being involved in games like this and having the chance to win silverware.
“I think we have performed quite well in the competition so far this season so hopefully we can continue that into the final. You can’t beat that feeling of winning something, it is just so special and the memory of the celebrations that we had after the game back in May will live with me forever, from the game itself, to lifting the cup and that civic reception the following day.
“We’ve spoken with all of the boys about how special that day was and hopefully it is something we can use to our advantage on Sunday.
“First of all we need to think about ourselves, go into the game with the right mentality and hopefully do ourselves justice. That’s all you can ask for, really.”
If Hearts beat Danny Lennon’s men this weekend, as well as seeing the club win their second piece of silverware in just ten months, it would also mean Barr joining a small and illustrious group of players to win both the League Cup and Scottish Cup with Hearts.
Alongside Barr, only Jamie MacDonald and Andy Webster remain from the side that started in the 5-1 rout of Hibs, although Mehdi Taouil, who is set to start this weekend, came on for the last six minutes of that memorable victory last May. A win over Saints would see those four go into the history books alongside the legendary likes of Willie Bauld and Jimmy Wardhaugh who are among an 11-strong group to have won both cups with the Tynecastle outfit. Barr admitted that would be a humbling feat and added: “It’s one of these things that you probably don’t think about properly until it has actually happened. I’m 28 now and you don’t realise what you have achieved until it is over.
“Obviously if we do manage to win it then it is a great achievement for everyone involved but we know that we have got a lot of hard work ahead of us before we can even think about it.
“There have been a lot of good young boys coming into the team and it would be good if we all go out there and play the game, rather than the occasion on the Sunday, then afterwards it can all sink in if it has gone our way.”
Barr had plenty to celebrate in his last cup final for Hearts, not only going on to win the trophy, but also bagging the first of the goals that sent them on their way to a sensational victory. To top it off, his family cashed in on the party by backing their boy to score the first goal of the game at odds of 30-1, meaning celebrations all round. “It was a great feeling to score back in May, but at the end of the day I was just so happy to see the team winning,” he said.
“My family were all at the game and they had put money on me to score the first goal. I suppose it’s just one of those things, because I’m their boy, they put money on me, as did my uncles and cousins and everyone else, I think. I switched my phone on at the end of the game and I had loads of texts from people congratulating me and then some thanking me for scoring and winning them some money! It was just a great day.”
Hearts have endured an unorthodox to the final with McGlynn leaving the club just two weeks before the big game and Locke only learning this week that he would definitely take charge for final, with Peter Houston having been strongly tipped to take over in recent days. Locke, a diehard Hearts fan, now has the chance to become the first manager to bring the trophy back to Gorgie in half a century and he will attempt to do so buoyed by having steered his team to four points from the last two SPL outings.
Their last match before the Hampden showdown was the goalless Edinburgh derby at Easter Road on Sunday, although they were fortunate Hibs were denied a clear goal when match officials wrongly deemed that Leigh Griffiths’ free-kick hadn’t crossed the line. Barr felt Hearts deserved at least a point from the game and is hoping that fortune is finally starting to turn in his side’s favour after a difficult season.
“The gaffer has come in under really difficult circumstances and done really well,” he said.
“I know that we didn’t win on Sunday but I think that we gave a good account of ourselves and we maybe could have won it when you look back at some of the chances that we had. We maybe had that wee bit of luck that we’ve not been getting in other games so it all evens itself out. It was good to keep a clean sheet ahead of the final and I am sure that will be good for everyone’s confidence.”
Barr knows Saints will provide a stiff test at Hampden, having already knocked both Celtic and Aberdeen out of the competition, but he would love to give the fans something to celebrate following a disappointing league campaign.
“They have done really well in the cup so far and put some really good teams out so we know how difficult they will make it for us,” he said. “They beat us the last time we played them in the league so, I think there is a bit of a feeling that we need to go out there and show what we can do and maybe rectify a few things.
“We all know that our league form needs to be better, but this cup run has been good for everyone, the players and for the fans. The league is our bread and butter and we must do better, but the cup would be a great bonus for us. It would be nice to give the fans something back too.”