Darren Barr eager to ply trade in unique Tynecastle atmosphere

TWO things influenced Darren Barr's thinking when he weighed up the offer of a pre-contract with Hearts.

• Darren Barr displays his new colours yesterday. Picture: Neil Hanna

He wanted to be competing for European places and trophies rather than scrapping to avoid relegation and he was excited by the prospect of doing that in a venue which rekindles memories of his apprenticeship at Brockville.

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"Every time I have been (to Tynecastle] there's always been a great atmosphere in the stadium," said the former Falkirk defender. "It's a big club and it's a step up for myself as well. That was massive."

It is a far cry from the Falkirk Stadium, where he and his former team-mates spent the past two seasons trying to stave off demotion to the First Division. With only three stands completed, the wide open arena struggles to generate emotional intensity but Barr says there is a tingle when competing in the compact Tynecastle, in front of a vocal home support.

"The stadium (Falkirk] have now is not filled in yet and it was always going to be hard after Brockville. I was there as an apprentice and the atmosphere was absolutely brilliant so it was always going to be hard to recreate that."

The claustrophobic playing environs, with the stands hugging the tight pitch, can be a source of discomfort for some opposing players who struggle to adapt and while Barr insists he never fell into that category, he can see how the Gorgie ground offers an advantage to the home side.

The Scotland international played there eight times with Falkirk and won only once. "It was a weapon at Brockville and it is the same here. I have come here a few times and there are players and teams who don't like it. It's a great stadium but like Brockville, some people just hate going there. Although this is a bit nicer, the atmosphere is the same. It might inspire some people, it might do other things to other people so, yeah, I'm looking forward to experience that more often."

Signed by Csaba Laszlo before he was ousted and replaced by Jim Jefferies at the turn of the year, he says neither the club's ambitions or his own have been altered by the managerial switch. Having spoken with the new manager, he said he was positive he will be given the same opportunity to impress and can see a season where he will be challenging in the top half of the league table.

"They have shown in the past that they can be up there (where Dundee United were last season] and the gaffer has come in and done really well so everything is really good and positive. Add the signings and hopefully we can kick on," said Barr.

"But we should be up there with the players we have got at this club. There is potential as well and we have brought in Kevin Kyle so things are looking very positive.

"That's why I want to be here, it's what I'm here for."