Tynecastle defender Danny Grainger’s confidence that he could out-score a teammate has backfired and means he will be forced to sport unusual footwear on the pitch.
Grainger’s new boots bear the name of fellow Jambo Ryan McGowan and the Australian flag after he lost a bet over who would find the net the most last year.
The players agreed that whoever lost the challenge would have the other’s name and national flag embroidered on their boots for the new campaign.
The bet was made in February after Grainger returned from injury. Although both men scored in May’s Scottish Cup final defeat of Hibs, McGowan’s header against Aberdeen in March ensured his goal at Hampden won him the wager.
Grainger explained today how he had to go through with the forfeit, which means his Adidas boots are now adorned with Australia’s blue ensign and McGowan’s nickname, “Gowser”.
“Gowser and I had a bit of a bet just after I came back from injury last year over who would score the most goals from that point till the end of the season,” he told the Evening News.
“Gowser’s goal in the cup final meant he won, so I’ve had to get his name and the Australian flag on my boots for this season.
“It’s just a bit of light-hearted banter me and Gowser have. It spices things up a bit.
“I’ve been getting a bit of stick from the boys. A lot of them are saying I should just have backed out, but hopefully my time will come and I can get my revenge.
“No doubt he’ll be trying to claim some responsibility if I score with these boots on, but it’s good to have a laugh like that. We have quite a close dressing room.”
Grainger is expected to return to competitive action as Hearts host Inverness Caledonian Thistle today, having taken time to reach full fitness following a summer groin operation.
Fans said the bet confirmed there was a positive mood among Hearts players at the beginning of the new season.
Steve Kilgour, general secretary of the Federation of Hearts Supporters Clubs, said: “It seems like a great joke and banter to me, and shows that there’s great support in the squad which a few years ago just wasn’t there.
“I think it shows the mood in the camp is good. Ryan McGowan is just going up and up in the estimation of fans just now – and no wonder. You can see how much scoring means to him.
“It’s really important to have a good amount of support among the boys on the park when they are playing together. It gives you a tighter bond and it really helps you out. It helps with the fans as well.”
He added: “It’s like any walk of life. If you have a feel-good factor, it helps lift everyone. It helps lift the rest of the team and it helps lift the mood of the fans.”