Hearts: Origins of popular Craig Gordon meme and why Hearts keeper found Hibs win a laughing matter

Craig Gordon knows that Hibs want to wipe the grin off his face. But when the serious business of Saturday afternoon’s Scottish Cup semi-final is concluded, he believes there is every chance that he and his Hearts team-mates will be smiling all the way to the final.

In the 2020 Hampden head-to-head, the Scotland keeper laughed at Hibs’ dismay, as he leapt down to his left to deny Kevin Nisbet what looked like a certain opener after the striker had connected with Martin Boyle’s 28th-minute cross into the box.

As the tv cameras zoomed, his response launched a thousand memes.

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“I think it was a reaction to the Hibs players who were standing in the box,” explained the 39-year-old club captain. “I think it was [Christian] Doidge who was just looking at me after it. I knew it was a good save and it was a good feeling to be able to stand and look at the disbelief on the strikers’ face. That is why we become goalkeepers, for that feeling of denying a certain goal and witnessing the reaction and the disappointment.

“It is a slightly different position because most players want to score goals but that is what I was laughing at. It wasn’t anything too sinister, it was just the reaction of the Hibs players.

“It was very unusual, because I don’t usually react like that. It was just one of those things, in the moment, and I found it amusing. I am not known for too much emotion on the park but I found that one quite funny.”

In a career that has spanned decades and provided numerous highs and some difficult lows, as a proud Hearts man, victories over his team’s city rivals have always counted among the former. Especially those at the national stadium, and especially when they lead to silverware.

“Back in 2006, it was a great day and a great scoreline. The fans were very happy with that. It was a great win until the 2012 team outdid us a little bit! They get the credit for that and nobody thinks too much about the semi-final one, but it was a good day.

Craig Gordon in action for Hearts during last weekend's 3-1 league victory over Hibs at Tynecastle. Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group

“I remember going there, getting to the stadium, how great the fans were that day, how loud they were, the atmosphere they created. We’ve got a great support. No matter what the situation is, they turn up for these big games, they support us and make a great noise. And I’m sure they will do the same for this one. They will fill their half and be ready to cheer us on and give us backing, which can only help.”

Having won that one 4-0, courtesy of a Paul Hartley masterclass – “his three goals that day were brilliant, that’s what won us the game” – Gordon can see similarities between that team and the men currently trying to maintain the club’s 100 per cent winning record against Hbs at the national stadium.

“That team had a great team spirit, a great togetherness. You can see that in this team, really coming together and fighting for each other. That’s probably a big part of why we have got to where we are this season.”

But he knows that derby wins, in particular, can never be taken for granted, they have to be earned.

“We have put ourselves in a good position but there is still more to be done. We are still driving each other on to achieve, train better and make sure we are ready for this one.”

A decade ago, Gordon was in the Hampden stand as Hearts recorded their most notable derby win, beating the neighbours 5-1, in the 2012 final to eclipse the 2006 result. He savoured every minute of the showcase but having left just Sunderland after lengthy injury setbacks, the future seemed so unsure. So much so, it seemed unthinkable to him that he would participate in such an occasion again.

“It was a very emotional one for every Hearts fan. To win the cup against Hibs and not only that, to win it in the fashion they did was a fantastic achievement and that whole team will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on May 8 and quite rightly. It was a huge result and one that everybody will remember forever.

“With the injury troubles at that time I probably thought the chances were I wouldn't get back on a football pitch let alone get back to playing in the Premier League or play international football, to get back to any level.”

In 2020, having won trophies galore with Celtic, Scotland’s No 1 was back on that stage with his boyhood side but the pandemic lockdown gave it an eerie feeling, even if the outcome offered a more comforting sense of familiarity. But he is still looking for the silver lining.

“Of course, to win any trophy for Hearts would be incredible and that's what we are striving to do. We have got the club back into a good position and we have worked really hard to get here and we want to continue improving.

“Whatever your motivation, there is something there for everyone. But it’s just one game of football. We need to control what we can control and be ready for the battle because I’m sure it’s going to be a difficult game.

“You could see in the first 20 minutes at Tynecastle [last weekend] the potential that Hibs had to give us problems. So we know we are going to have to be better.

“The favourites don’t always win so we have to make sure that we are playing well. And we can control that by working hard and being as prepared as we possibly can and being ready for the game.”

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