It is a while since Conor Sammon enjoyed his football as much as he is now. Hearts are sitting second with a chance to build on that this afternoon, against St Johnstone, in Perth, and they have reached those heights by playing a brand of football that is serving up goal openings aplenty for their Irish striker.
“One hundred per cent I find myself waking up on a Saturday morning feeling really excited to get the opportunity to go and play, especially at Tynecastle where the atmosphere is really, really tremendous and the fans are so passionate; and the stadium – there is something about the way the fans are almost right on top of you, and that noise when you are doing well is fantastic. It must be a nightmare for the opposition players to come to, especially if we start well.
“We are very clear in the dressing room about starting well to try to generate that atmosphere and get the fans going and it is really pleasing for me to get lots of chances in front of goal, playing the right sort of way and working hard without the ball and creating chances with the ball. There are so many positives and we are still very early in the season and we are still getting to know each other but it is really good signs for the rest of the season to come.”
Asked if he can remember the last time he relished match days this much, the guy who has played in the English top flight as well as earning a place on the international stage ponders long and hard.
“I would probably say the early stages of my time at Derby,” he said. “You are new to the club and the stadium is incredible and the fans are great. But now, even off the pitch, I feel really, really settled.
“My wife is from Scotland so it is more settling for her. It’s the whole package. Driving into Tynecastle with my family with me, it’s just very special and the older you get the more you realise that you can’t take these moments for granted because I have been on the flipside and going to games knowing that I am probably not going to play and I’m probably just going to come on for the last ten to 15 minutes, which can be really frustrating. All that frustration gets built up and you can channel it in a positive way and I’m lucky to be getting a great opportunity here at Hearts to go out and express myself on a Saturday and to go and enjoy my football.”
This weekend does not offer him the chance to play in Gorgie but there are other, bigger motivating factors. There is the enticement of topping the Premiership, and the opportunity to avenge the League Cup defeat they suffered at the hands of Tommy Wright’s men at the start of the season.
That result made life difficult for Hearts, coming on the back of their European departure and after their league loss to Celtic. But since then they have gained a point at Pittodrie and pieced together three wins in succession.
“Yeah, football is crazy like that,” said Sammon. “You really are only as good as your last game and thankfully for us, we have gone on a run where we have won games on the bounce and things have changed so quickly.
“But the longer you are in football, the more apparent it becomes that things can change so quickly. You can be down in the dumps a little bit and almost feeling sorry for yourself but then we have been lucky to have games where we have been able to go and change things so quickly after that start.
“Like I said, it will be a tough game against St Johnstone. They are very well organised and we know that we have to be right on it to have any chance of getting the three points and of going up the league table.
“We are second just now, which is a really good start to the season, and it is a great opportunity to go and lay down another marker and go one step better and move into the top position.”