Grant Holt wants to beat Hearts on Sunday but like so many at Hibernian the experienced striker says the priority remains doing what is needed week in, week out to ensure the club have the opportunity to face their rivals on a more regular basis next season.
For that to happen, Neil Lennon’s men need to secure promotion at the third time of asking, which is why the Championship remains their No 1 concern. But that does not mean that the Scottish Cup holders are willing to undermine the importance of this weekend’s head to head.
“The cup is magical and, obviously, we won it last year. So, would we want to win it again? Yes we would. Would we want to put Hearts out? Of course we would!” said Holt. “But, ultimately, we want to make sure we get the four games against them next season and the four games against Celtic and Rangers and Aberdeen, that’s our aim.
“Look, derbies take care of themselves. You don’t need anything to get you up for a derby. We know we are as good as anyone in the Premier League when we are on it and we are better than most teams in the Championship but it’s up to us to prove that and win the league so we can go and test ourselves week in, and week out next year.”
But, regardless of the competition, derbies count for more than simply progress in the cup or three points in the league and, as always, there are bragging rights at stake and not just for the fans.
Since the fifth-round draw coupled the capital rivals, Holt has been indulging in some Twitter banter with former Hearts full-back Danny Grainger. The pair both hail from the Carlisle area and grew up supporting their hometown Blues but Grainger, who now captains Carlisle United, got in touch with Holt to taunt him and Hibs fans with memories of the 2012 cup final, when he netted the third goal as the Gorgie side romped to their 5-1 win. The Hibs frontman said that game was ancient history and asked Grainger to address the Leith club as cup holders, reminding him what happened the last time the teams squared up and Hearts were ousted from the cup and Hibs went on to end their 114-year drought.
Holt doesn’t expect that to be the end of it but he does know one way to silence his mate – a Hibs win. “I’m sure I will get some message, at some point [in the build-up], but hopefully my phone will be very quiet on Sunday/Monday and I won’t hear from him!” added Holt.
The wind-ups simply add to the derby experience, according to the player who has participated in his fair share in a career that has included stints at 16 different clubs. “I scored a hat-trick in one major one. Norwich v Ipswich,” he recalled. “But as I said, it’s a derby and we know what it’s all about. The lads played in it last year and the atmosphere was fantastic and the lads responded and it’s a game that we are looking forward to.
“It doesn’t matter if it is an Edinburgh derby, a Glasgow derby or Norwich v Ipswich, regardless who it is...I’ve played in Bury v Rochdale and they are as heated as ever. It doesn’t really matter where it is, you don’t want to get beat and you don’t want to let your fans down. The good thing is, the pressure is all on them, we are only a Championship team, well that’s what I keep hearing so we will see what happens.”