Easter Road set for biggest crowd in 17 years as Hibs take on Hearts

Easter Road is poised to house its biggest crowd in almost 17 years as Colin Calderwood prepares to take charge of his first Edinburgh derby, a match being billed as the new Hibs manager's "House Warming."

The completion of the new East Stand at Hibs' ground has lifted capacity to 20,421, paving the way for Sunday's visit from Hearts to become the best attended match at the stadium since February 20, 1994.

A crowd of 20,953 that day watched Wayne Foster claim a dramatic late winner for the Jambos in a Scottish Cup tie.

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But reconstruction work, commencing with the North and South Stands, continuing with the West Stand and finished with the opening of the 6400 capacity East Stand earlier this season has limited crowd sizes since – the final phase of the ground's redevelopment resulting in the last derby being watched by only 11,277 supporters. The opening of that stand attracted an attendance of 17,145 for a visit from Rangers although the game was shown live on television and Hibs officials are now hopeful of that figure being smashed despite Sunday's clash again being "on the box."

Despite Hibs languishing near the foot of the table, suffering a defeat last weekend as did their Capital rivals in going down 3-0 at home to Kilmarnock, Fife Hyland, the club's commercial and communications director, today reported healthy interest in the first Edinburgh derby of the season.

Already the West Stand and the upper tier of the Famous Five Stands are virtually sold out while, according to Hyland, Hearts have reported brisk sales of their 3,800 allocation for the South Stand.

Hyland said: "We did a lot of marketing over the weekend, targeting non-season ticket holders on our database and sales picked up a lot yesterday.

"It's perhaps too early to say just what the crowd might be but the pattern usually is that Hibs fans appear to leave buying tickets until later on so we'll have a clearer idea towards the end of the week.

"But we believe we'll get our biggest crowd in years.

"We are putting a lot of work into it, aiming to beat the crowd for the Rangers game, it's the first derby of the season, the fans have had to wait until the end of the first round of fixtures for it and it's not only Colin Calderwood's first Edinburgh derby but his first match in charge at Easter Road."

The Hibs ticket office will be open from 9.00am to 5.00pm each day this week, from 9.00am to 3.00 pm on Saturday and again on Sunday morning.