THE relish with which Jamie Hamill dispatched Hearts’ victory-sealing penalty against St Mirren on Saturday left no-one in any doubt about how good it felt to be back.
The full-back’s first goal since scoring against the same opponents in March last year was a cathartic moment and its worth to both him and his team-mates was plain to see.
Hamill even survived some gamesmanship from his old Kilmarnock team-mate Craig Samson just prior to taking the award. The goalkeeper enveloped him in a bear hug and whispered something unprintable in his ear. Hamill was already operating high on confidence in a fine display and lashed the penalty past Samson to give Hearts the points and underline his own comeback success from serious injury.
“I’d scored a few pens past Sammy when I was at Killie. I think he’s still to save one,” Hamill smiled later.
“I think I scored two years ago at Tynecastle as well and that was in the back of my mind. But I said to him before the game I was going to score against him. I don’t think he was too happy with that.
“I don’t think I’ll repeat what he told me when I went to take the penalty. It was something along the lines of ‘I hope you miss’ but it was just banter.”
Hamill is one of the few players who are not looking forward to the end of the campaign, just two weeks from now.
Looking fit and lean, he wants to keep on playing but can at least look forward to a new season when he will be firing on all cylinders, and surrounded by a host of young talents.
Asked what the worst part of the last 12 months has been, he replied immediately: “the physio room”.
Since rupturing his cruciate knee ligament in training last year, it has been a long, long way back and Hamill admitted he feared his career might be over.
He also acknowledged that the mental side of the recovery process had turned out to be the most difficult part.
“The rehab is not that hard, it is just a long slog,” he said. “You have to keep working hard and make sure you are doing the right things. It was a long, long time, and it was good to get back on the scoresheet and get another victory.”