JAMIE Hamill is known for his passionate, at times hot-headed style of play, but as his time as a Hearts player came to an end yesterday, the 27-year-old offered a cool, philosophical assessment of the changes at Tynecastle during the first day of Ann Budge’s reign.
Recruited from Kilmarnock by Jim Jefferies three years ago, Hamill was out of contract and suspected, if not expected, that he would not be offered a new deal at the club. When the news was confirmed, however, it was done so bluntly and swiftly by new director of football Craig Levein. Nonetheless, Hamill did not sound at all bitter, and said his main concern was for the departed managerial team – Gary Locke, assistant Billy Brown and goalkeeping coach Alan Combe.
“I had a quick 25 seconds with Craig Levein and that was me back out the door,” he said. “I can’t even remember what he said to me. You get the impression that you’re just not going to get renewed as such.
“It’s difficult and I do really feel for the gaffer, Billy and Comber because they’ve worked miracles this season and hopefully it won’t be long before they get another job. I’m more disappointed for them.
“It’s a difficult situation to find yourself in with some of the players taking wage cuts at the start of the season, the gaffer performing miracles. For someone else just to come in and say to the gaffer ‘you’re not getting the job’ . . . .
“I didn’t get any reasons but at the end of the day I knew it was coming so I planned not to be here. I had a good time, all the boys have been brilliant and hopefully they can come up [from the Championship] next season because every one of the boys are brilliant. The gaffer has been amazing. I played with him and worked under him as well. From a player moving into the managerial side, he has to cut ties with the boys, even having a laugh. I think he’s handled it brilliantly – he was the best person for it for that season because he has been magnificent, as have Billy and Comber. They kept the place alive when times have been hard.”
Besides sympathising with the management team and with other team-mates who have also left, Hamill said he understood that Budge, having committed millions of pounds of her own money to the club, had a right to run things her way. “She’s put her money in and she needs to get in a position to get things right for next season. Hopefully the club can come out of administration as soon as possible and can basically get on the up and get back to where they belong.
“Maybe the way it was done could have been a wee bit better, but it is what it is. It’s not a nice day for anybody, but I just wish all the boys the best of luck.
“I think it is a bit harsh, but that’s the world we live in at the moment. That’s football. It’s one of those things, but hopefully I can move on from here.
“I wish all the boys in the dressing room all the luck I can give and hopefully they can get back to where Hearts belong, and that’s challenging for cups and in the league. The next few years will be tough, but hopefully they can get back up. If you were to ask every player this morning, it was a case that we would love the gaffer to be there next season and for the foreseeable future. I’ve no doubt in my mind that the gaffer should be managing a Premiership team. Hopefully that’s the case.”