Following a 3-0 win over Inverness at Tynecastle in which visiting manager Neil McCann was sent off, Hearts received the Championship trophy. Some fans wanted it left on the stand but the players collected it to show respect to Scotland’s second tier.
“We understand the frustration of the fans,” said Neilson. “A group didn’t want us to lift it but another group did. We felt as a club that we have to respect the competition and the league. There is still anger and hurt at the way things happened last year but as a club we had to rise above that to a point.
“This might be the only championship some players here win. You have to give them that celebration. We didn’t go over the top, we just had a quick celebration.
“It’s a title and it’s hard to do. Rangers took two years to get out of this division. Hibs took three. Dundee United took four. Inverness are still here, Falkirk have gone down twice. It’s easy to say we will definitely come up but you have to go and do it.
“I’ve played here and three games are really important – the first game, the Remembrance game and the last game to set the tone for the summer. Today was brilliant for the players. Although it was 3-0, credit to Inverness. It was like a Premiership game because they came to win.
“I’ve won the Championship three times. It’s about wining your home games, winning away games or at least getting a point and moving on. Expectations externally were for us to win every game. I knew it wasn’t going to happen.
“We set the players a points total and they’re almost on it. If they manage to get it I’ll be absolutely delighted. Raith still need to win against us next Friday to push for second place so we are looking forward to it.”
Peter Haring trudged off injured in the first half before 16-year-old Pollock made his debut. “Peter tweaked his hip a wee bit. His previous injury was his groin so hopefully he’ll be okay for Friday,” said Neilson.
"Finlay is a good player. He has done well training with us but I still think he’s a wee bit away from getting regular games in the first team.
“He will come in for pre-season and we will probably put him out on loan with a number of other ones. We will look to get him in the team further down the line. I was pleased when he came on. He will learn a few things from the players.”
Gary Mackay-Steven scored twice with Aaron McEneff claiming Hearts’ other goal. “Mackay-Steven was on fire. He got into areas and influenced the game because it was open,” said Neilson, who made light of an angry second-half exchange which ended with McCann being sent to the stand.
“There are always things said on the touchline. That happens quite regularly. I actually quite enjoy it when you’ve got people who want to win. It was entertaining,” he said.