John Robertson: Hibs put name on Scottish Cup at Tynecastle

Hibs celebrate after Paul Hanlon's last-gasp equaliser against Hearts at Tynecastle last February. Picture: Greg Macvean
Hibs celebrate after Paul Hanlon's last-gasp equaliser against Hearts at Tynecastle last February. Picture: Greg Macvean
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There were no books written about this particular occasion. It did not spark a pitch invasion. No parade was called to mark the achievement the following day. But John Robertson believes Hibernian fans consider Tynecastle as being where they effectively won the Scottish Cup.

Of course little can ever top the drama of what happened at Hampden Park on 21 May for these supporters. But at the very least, the home of their old rivals is where Hibs gained the impetus to smash a 114-year hoodoo by coming back at the death to draw 2-2 in the fifth round Edinburgh derby tie last season.

This realisation heaps further pain on Hearts fans, who know their team had every chance to nip their rivals’ bid for glory in the bud after taking a two-goal first-half lead.

It isn’t stretching the bounds of reason to propose Hearts as potential cup winners last season had they not been so careless. But they frittered away the advantage gained after opening half goals from Arnaud Djoum and Sam Nicholson before succumbing to Jason Cummings’ early winner in the replay at Easter Road. It’s the failure to seal victory at Tynecastle in the first game that truly smarted, giving critics of then head coach Robbie Neilson more 
ammunition.

“Many Hibs supporters believe their name was on the Scottish Cup from that moment on,” reflected Robertson, now a club ambassador with Hearts. “In terms of annoyance and anger, it still resonates with Hearts fans that we blew an opportunity. Could Hearts have gone on and won the trophy and done what Hibs did?

“We’ll never know because that question was taken away the moment Hibs knocked us out. But for a lot of Hibs fans, that’s where they won the cup. They feel that was the bit that turned it for them. They came from nowhere and the rest is history.”

But fate has provided Hearts with a swift opportunity to make some amends when the teams meet again at the same stage of the same competition this weekend.

“People will say there is a score to settle,” said Robertson, who holds the record for goals scored in the Edinburgh derby after hitting 27 for Hearts. “Every derby game, every derby cup tie, is judged on its own merits. You can’t change what happened last year. But we can change what happens this year. Hibs fans have the bragging rights from last season’s cup-tie and they’ll let us know about it. They let us know at the Bonnyrigg 
Rose game (which was played at Tynecastle) what they did last year.”

Robertson accepts Hibs have every right to enjoy their moment in the sun. However, he is understandably keen for Hearts to take advantage of the chance thrown up by last month’s cup draw to gain a measure of revenge. It’s the third time since the all-Edinburgh final of 2012 that the teams have been paired together in the competition.

Just as Hibs took the opportunity to knock holders Hearts out five years ago, so Hearts have the chance to take the trophy off Hibs – symbolically at least.

“That’s one of the greatest parts of football,” continued Robertson. “In terms of city rivalry, the Hibs fans will be crowing about it. They will be singing about where they were last May. And rightly so, they’ve earned that.

“But we have the opportunity to take the cup right back from them. They did it to us when they took the cup straight back after 2012. Well, we have that opportunity on Sunday. Hopefully from a maroon perspective, our guys can go and do that. That’s what we want.”

But if Hearts don’t get what they want, and they fall again to Hibs, he can’t believe head coach Ian Cathro, pictured, will reap the whirlwind in quite the way Neilson did. Going into the tie on the back of two successive league victories has eased the pressure on Cathro considerably. But 
Robertson feels the fans were prepared to give him more time to get things right in any case.

“There was always a small section of the Hearts support that didn’t take to Robbie,” he said. “Nobody can really put their finger on it. If you look at his record, he won the Championship by a record points total when Rangers and Hibs were in the league. He finished third in his first season back and while his cup record was not great he left when Hearts were in second place.

“One of the aspects of modern football I’m not keen on is the social media based criticism. After finishing third then being in second people start talking about the style of play.

“You can play great football but you are in trouble if you don’t get results. The truth in football is you can never win 
– unless you win!

“Ian will have wanted to win against Rangers, Motherwell and Hibs but if you told him he could get a guaranteed win against one it would be a no-brainer,” Robertson added. “He would pick Hibs because he knows what it would mean to the fans. Would it define his career at Hearts? No chance! Would it upset the fans if they lose? Of course. But it would upset the fans if I was the manager and we lost or if Craig Levein was manager and they lost. They would be every bit as upset with us as they would be with Ian Cathro if he did lose the match.

“But if he wins it, it’s a massive thing for the young man. It will calm everyone down. It’s a huge match.”