RYAN Stevenson is relishing a return to Tynecastle today to play in front of the fans he believes saved Hearts from going out of business.
Stevenson was one of only a few experienced men left in the team that was hammered by a points penalty as a result of the insolvency troubles that threatened the club’s existence. And he believes it is the supporters who have been key to the remarkable revival from these dark days just two seasons ago which has led to Hearts being Premiership leaders four games in.
The Partick Thistle striker said: “It was sink or swim during that bad period and when it all hit the fan the players and the management and the fans all dug deep.
“The fans were really exceptional because they put their hands in their pockets and they embraced it – even although we got relegated.
“We played Thistle and lost 2-0 and got clapped off. I think that sums it up and it’s the fans who have been key to turning things round at Hearts. They have been first class.
“There is a great togetherness at Hearts and it just shows you when everyone is pulling in the one direction how strong it can be.
“It’s something we look at. Hearts have that never-say-die attitude and even if they go a goal behind the fans are still right behind them so it’s going to be a difficult game for us.
“But if we play as we can we will give them a good game. There is a togetherness at Thistle, too, and that’s one of the reasons I came here. It’s a real family with good morals to it. It has to be a collective unit and we have that.”
Thistle head to Gorgie in reasonable shape after playing well in spells against Kilmarnock last week – but Stevenson knows they have to cut out the red cards, having suffered two already, and he is the one who is sacrificed when they go down to ten men.
Speaking to Partick Thistle TV, Stevenson said: “We have good recent history there and there is nothing to fear.
“It was the first fixture I looked for when the games came out and it’s going to be great going back to Tynecastle.
“I think taking out the Celtic game we have done OK. A couple of sending-offs have not helped.
“It certainly doesn’t help me because I know I’m the guy who will be sacrificed.
“It was 25 minutes the first day and then 65 minutes last week against Killie so it would be good to get past that.
“I felt the football we played in the first half-hour against Killie was the best since I have been here. On our day we are a match for anyone.
“The thing is we are either very good or all to pot. We need to manage the games better at times. We allowed Killie back in it last week when we were in a strong position.”