That’s not to say the seemingly mild-mannered property valuer gave them a paint-stripping torrent of invective – the walls of the home dressing-room still looked in perfectly good nick yesterday, on a visit to the East Superleague club’s well-appointed ground.
But Horn made sure the players knew they were letting themselves, and the club, down by allowing their thoughts to drift towards the big game against Hibs while there were still league games to play.
“I had a wee go at them,” he recalled yesterday. “Then on the following Tuesday night at training I reminded them how important it was to stay focused.”
Admirable advice, of course, and exactly what you’d expect to hear from someone schooled in the game by the likes of Jim Jefferies, pictured right, Horn’s manager at first club Hearts.
But then the 39-year-old took a call from his chairman, Charlie Kirkwood, informing him of the need to call several players and ask them to come in for a photoshoot designed to publicise the forthcoming game. No, not the next one versus Newtongrange Star, the one Horn had insisted his team remain focused on, but the one after that, against Hibs.
A photoshoot? Yes, a James Bond-themed photo-shoot. For which the players would need to don a dicky bow, a white dress shirt and, erm, a Sean Connery mask. As Horn might have written if he were included on his tight-knit squad of players’ WhatsApp group chat: *awkward*
So Horn had to admit defeat. The enormity of a tie against the cup holders had enveloped the club, understandably so. There was little point resisting.
Slightly meekly, Horn picked up his phone and dialled the selected players. “I had to ask the guys to come back in and do this James Bond-themed photo-shoot,” he smiled. “That put the focus thing right out the window.
“Ever since then I have told them, ‘just go and enjoy it’. It is something they will remember for the rest of their days. For a lot of them it will be the best they will do in their careers. Just go and enjoy it.”
Despite distractions, they beat Newtongrange Star on Saturday, while Horn was at least spared wearing one of the masks handed out to his players yesterday. The manager insisted on maintaining his self-respect, conscious that, in the midst of delivering a dressing-room tirade,It he didn’t want players mentally picturing him wearing a Sean Connery mask.
To understand the relevance of the James Bond theme needs extensive knowledge of either the club or Connery. Before playing Bond, the Fountainbridge-born actor played for Bonnyrigg Rose on a handful of occasions in the 1950s, reputedly scoring from 30 yards on one outing. The club reports receiving a good-luck message from the great man, much to striker Wayne McIntosh’s amusement.
“I didn’t know I was following in his footsteps when I signed,” said McIntosh, taking a break from satisfying the whims of photographers by adopting exaggerated pistol-firing poses, a la Bond. “But it’s like that when you’re winning – everybody comes out of the closet, don’t they?”
Bonnyrigg Rose are certainly winning at the moment. Their defeat of Dumbarton in the last round was a remarkable achievement, more so since they’d feared they had lost the chance by drawing at home in the first tie.
The 1-0 replay win earned them a place in the fourth- round draw, and hopes of a money-spinning draw were realised when they were drawn to face Hibs at home. Safety restrictions meant the tie had to be taken elsewhere.
Tynecastle was chosen to the satisfaction of most, but particularly McIntosh, the 31-year-old joiner who has form there.
“I’m a Hearts fan and it will be amazing to run out at Tynecastle as the home team,” he said. “I played at Tynecastle when Hearts and Hibs played a charity match last year, and I scored a hat-trick.
“You can actually watch the highlights on YouTube, like I have loads of times. Even just hearing your name read out: ‘Number ten, Wayne McIntosh!’ was incredible.
“That was only in front of a couple of hundred people, never mind 13,000! So to run out in front of 13,000 will be unbelievable.”
The ticket income will be spent wisely, with the club planning to erect floodlights at their New Dundas Park ground.
“We are looking to spend the money the right way, not just splash it out on players - although hopefully I will get some money to get some players,” said Horn.
With all hands to the pump in this week of all weeks, McIntosh has even helped sell tickets for the game along with several teammates.
He estimated accounting for around 60 of the 4,900 snapped by up Bonnyrigg Rose fans.
“I run a bit of a joinery business as well and trying to run that and then you’ve got the football and all this…” said the striker. “I thought I was doing the club a turn, which I have done. But it was getting names and addresses for every ticket. Oh man, it was a stress!”
It’s also a delightful image, the players themselves distributing briefs for a potentially career-defining game that will also help bathe their club in light – literally.
l Wayne McIntosh and Robbie Horn were speaking at a William Hill media event. William Hill is the proud sponsor of the Scottish Cup.