The biggest league victory ever recorded by Heart of Midlothian left journalists, players and coaches alike scrambling for superlatives to describe a truly remarkable 10-0 obliteration of Cowdenbeath.
Osman Sow, the Hearts striker who helped himself to two goals in the relentless rout of the Fife part-timers, chose to reach for a 1990s idiom in his bid to find the words to sum up the match and, more particularly, his feelings towards the forlorn visitors.
“Sh*t happens,” he said with a carefree shrug. Not quite the deep expression of sympathy that head coach Robbie Neilson had conveyed towards his opposite number Jimmy Nicholl, certainly, but you cannot fault the big man’s honesty.
Cowdenbeath conceded three penalties in an ill-disciplined 90 minutes, two of which were converted by Género Zeefuik on his way to equalling the record for the fastest ever hat-trick by a Hearts player, while the other was delightfully “Panenka-ed” into the net by Morgaro Gomis. Lewis Toshney was given his marching orders for the concession of the afternoon’s second spot-kick.
Sam Nicholson, Jamie Walker, Alim Ozturk, Danny Wilson – finishing with varying degrees of difficulty – also scored with the minimum of resistance against a Blue Brazil side which has been reekin’ in Auld Reekie this term, shipping 23 goals in four visits to Edinburgh against Hearts and Hibernian.
Given the schoolboy nature of some of the defending, it was fitting that Sow’s recollection of comparable score-lines required him to cast his mind back to his youth football days.
“That was the first time I have ever been involved in a match like that in senior football,” said the former Crystal Palace forward. “Maybe when I was a kid there was games with that kind of a score. I think I was probably 12 years old.
“We didn’t take our foot of the gas at any point. It was always going to be difficult for Cowdenbeath to play with ten men for such a long time and it felt like everything we hit went into the net.
“I didn’t feel sympathy, that is just football. They worked hard but, you know, sh*t happens.”
In the driving Gorgie rain, the deluge of goals began after 25 minutes, with Nat Wedderburn blocking a Nicholson shot with his hand inside the box. Bobby Madden pointed to the spot and Zeefuik dispatched his kick past Robbie Thomson with aplomb.
The former Netherlands Under-21 international doubled his tally 76 seconds later, shaking off the attentions of Jon Robertson 30 yards from goal and fizzing a low shot into the bottom corner.
Zeefuik secured his hat-trick from the spot after Mr Madden adjudged ex-Celtic youngster Lewis Toshney to have hauled down the superb Nicholson as he scampered through on goal. Toshney walked and the burly Dutchman sent Thomson the wrong way.
His breakneck treble, which arrived in three minutes and 35 seconds, equals the record for Hearts’ fastest ever hat-trick, matching Andy Black’s exploits in a 5-3 win against Arbroath in 1938.
Ten-man Cowdenbeath were dazed and heading for the canvas but, showing no mercy, Hearts kept punching. Another quick one-two was delivered when Nicholson drifted in from the left flank to unleash a right-footed rocket past Thomson, quickly followed by Walker netting his sixth goal in eight games with a calm finish from the edge of the box.
Hearts could have chosen to see out this fixture on auto-pilot in the second period, but there would be no respite for the visitors.
Morgaro Gomis netted the fifth from the penalty spot after Dean Brett had felled the Senegalese midfielder. He converted the spot-kick in delightful fashion, clipping his effort down the middle.
Hearts’ centre-backs, in danger of developing rigor mortis at the back, soon got in on the act.
Ozturk, who had already struck the post with a first-half free kick, fired a trademark long-range thunderbolt past the shell-shocked Thomson. That was followed by his defensive partner Danny Wilson scrambling home from close range following a poorly defended corner kick.
Sow, a second-half replacement for Zeefuik, took full advantage of his weary foes to latch on to a Soufian El Hassnaoui pass and slot a calm finish past Thomson before, three minutes later, arrowing a 20-yard drive into the corner.
The names of Alexander, Paterson, Wilson, Ozturk, Eckersley, Gomis, Pallardo, Nicholson, Walker, King, Zeefuik, Sow, El Hassnaoui and Keatings will now go down in Hearts folklore as the holders of the club’s record league win.
Title jitters? What title jitters? Hearts’ procession to the Championship crown does not appear destined to be a fraught one.
“Winning a league is something special and some players go their whole career without doing that. It would be fantastic,” added Sow. “That is why I came to Hearts, to win trophies.”