DYLAN McGowan has no desire to usurp his brother Ryan in the role of cult hero but the Hearts defender would like to use this season to earn recognition for his football rather than his family ties.
When his brother was at the club his committed performances and goals against city rivals Hibs ensured he earned the adulation of the Gorgie punters and his kid brother admits he was often the one on the other side of the camera as fans sought photos with their idol.
But while he insists he doesn’t crave the same level of fame, the player whose nickname even references his older brother would like his on-field contributions to earn him a new moniker and praise in his own right.
“He gave me no chance,” he smiles. “He labelled me ‘Baby Gowser’ and everything. I’d just rather be remembered for putting in good performances. They can call me whatever they want but I’d just rather go about my business and be left alone. I had enough bother when I was with him at Nando’s and things like that. I hardly got to eat my chicken. I was always behind the camera, everyone wanted a picture of him.
“I think there will be a little bit more pressure on me than other players coming through, just because he had a good season. But I can’t be too worried about that. I’m not going to go around copying everything he did for the rest of my life. In fact, the next time I score a goal, I’m going to have to just stand still and not celebrate, just to make sure everyone knows I’m a different person.”
The wild celebrations captured the imagination of fans but rather than try to replicate his big brother’s impersonation of an over-excited flamingo attempting to take flight, the younger McGowan says he simply wants to help the team overhaul the 15-point deficit imposed when they entered administration and secure top-tier survival this season. “I’m happy just playing away, playing in any position. If it’s not a star role for the team I’m not too bothered. As long as we get out of this, I’ll be happy.”
While it’s anticipated Tynecastle will be a virtual sell out most weeks, the supporters are also expected to travel in numbers in the hope of inspiring their young stars as they channel their inner Houdini. Thousands are expected to make the trip to Perth on Sunday as the club get their season underway.
“In the whole of pre-season all you want to do is get to the first game and that’s coming this weekend, so everyone’s pretty excited,” says McGowan.
“Minus 15 points isn’t a great start to the season and everyone’s got us down as relegation favourites, which is understandable. We’re a young team and an unproven team, but we might just take a few people by surprise, I think.
“It’s a surreal season but one of those seasons that’s going to be remembered. Everyone’s written us off already, so there’s no real pressure on us. We’ll be looking to just go out and enjoy ourselves, and hopefully wins will come.
“In-house, we definitely feel we can do it. I wouldn’t be standing here if I didn’t think we could do it. There was plenty of chances for people to leave and if you weren’t up for the challenge there’s no point in being here. I think everyone that’s here now is really up for it.”