RAITH ROVERS boss Grant Murray hopes Hearts’ fan power can help boost the attendance for tonight’s friendly at Stark’s Park.
The Kirkcaldy outfit play host to the Gorgie side this evening, just a few days after three thousand Jambos turned out to back their side at Dunfermline.
The gate receipts from that match were split between the two clubs, both of whom have been placed in administration and are subject to bids from supporters to take control.
Murray has been impressed by the way the Tynecastle fans have rallied round their team in their hour of need and would love to see another bumper crowd for tonight’s game.
Former Hearts defender Murraysaid: “When Hearts played Dunfermline last Saturday there was a really good turnout.
“They have obviously had off-field problems in recent times and their supporters have been turning out in their numbers to back them.
“Hopefully that happens again and it would be great if we got a good turnout from our fans too.”
This time last year, Rovers hosted Hearts in a pre-season friendly but the cuts that have been forced upon the Edinburgh team over the past 12 months, and particularly since the administration process began, mean that Gary Locke’s side will be almost unrecognisable from that match.
However, with ex-Jambos Calum Elliot, Jason Thomson and Gordon Smith in their ranks, there will be many Rovers players with a fair idea of what the opposition are capable of.
Murray is certain that, no matter who makes the starting line-up, Hearts will still provide a stiff test for his side: “We have a few former Hearts boys in our side, guys who have come through the ranks at Tynecastle and will no doubt know some of the Hearts players tonight.
“There are certainly a few connections between the sides and I think it has the potential to be a decent game and a decent test for both teams.
“We played Hearts last pre-season but it is a completely different squad now.
“No matter when you play them, though, when you face a team of Hearts’ quality, you know that you are still going to come up against a good side. It won’t make any difference who plays because they will all be up to a certain standard.
“It is going to be a very difficult game and it will be a great test for us. From our point of view, you can only concentrate on what benefits we can take from the game.”
Murray started his playing career at Tynecastle, featuring in the top team for six seasons between 1995 and 2001 and knows Hearts boss Locke well.
Murray’s old team-mate leads his side into this season with a 15-point deduction following the club’s administration. He’s tipping Locke to handle the other off-field concerns by continuing to focus simply on the football.
“It has been a great opportunity for Gary,” Murray continued. “He came through the ranks at the club and has been a lifelong Hearts supporter so he’s realised a dream.
“He has been working with his hands tied behind his back to a certain extent but one thing that you can be sure is that won’t bother Gary. He will simply be concentrating on the football side.
“He will be under absolutely no illusions and I am sure that he will do a very good job with the squad that he has.”
Tonight’s match will be Raith’s third match of their pre-season, having already lost 2-1 to Sheffield United last Wednesday and then drawn 0-0 with Hibs on Friday night.
“We have two good games under our belts now, so we will be looking to step it up a bit tonight in terms of our fitness.
“We’re two weeks into pre-season training now and I think that the guys are starting to really find their feet now and I think that the calibre of the games has helped us. Every one of the players is looking forward to being involved in these matches as much as possible.
• ADMISSION prices for tonight’s match are £10 for adults and £5 for concessions.