Callum Paterson aims high after Romanov era lows

James Keatings, left, and Callum Paterson at the Murrayfield Sports Bar to promote a Tynecastle darts night. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
James Keatings, left, and Callum Paterson at the Murrayfield Sports Bar to promote a Tynecastle darts night. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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Hearts defender Callum Paterson never met Vladimir Romanov, he just suffered at the hands of the erstwhile owner’s ruinous mismanagement of the club.

As a survivor from the side that plunged into administration nearly two years ago, Paterson is now revelling in the good times this season.

Hearts are thriving  under the astute stewardship of Ann Budge. Picture: SNS

Hearts are thriving under the astute stewardship of Ann Budge. Picture: SNS

Hearts are on course to seal the Championship title and a return to the top flight. Under the stewardship of the astute Ann Budge, the club have also been lauded for blazing a trail off the park through their partnership with the Foundation of Hearts – the supporters group that will eventually become the majority shareholders.

It is of no surprise then that the players do not object to the amiable Budge making appearances in the dressing room.

“I never met Romanov but Ann Budge has been in the dressing room a few times congratulating us, and she is always in the stands cheering us on,” said Paterson. “It’s a big difference.

“Everything is going right with the way the club is run in the background and on the pitch.

“The standard has been unbelievable on the pitch but off the pitch it’s where it really matters.

“It has helped us take our minds off everything that has happened because last year we were focusing on whether we were going to get paid on time, were we going to get deducted more points.

“This season we’re focusing on the future and it shows that if you have nothing on your mind, that it helps.”

The current campaign has been the polar opposite to last season’s unsuccessful attempt to preserve their top-flight status.

Under then manager Gary Locke, the writing was on the wall from the start of the term when the club was deducted 15 points and handed a transfer embargo.

Paterson added: “Hopefully it will be completely opposite feelings when we get promoted and win the league.

“It was a terrible experience to be deducted 15 points before the season even started, and to get relegated with a team you’ve worked hard with.

“I would never erase last season from my mind but winning the league would certainly top anything that I’ve experienced.

“It’s a lot better than what happened last season and that will always be one of the lowest points of my career. Hopefully this will be one of the highest.”

A new-look Hearts have proved this term that they do not belong in Scottish football’s second tier.

It may have been a freak result, but last Saturday’s 10-0 annihilation of Cowdenbeath suggests that Robbie Neilson’s side are facing little resistance in their march towards the Championship title.

Paterson, who insists that he is only focused on the Scotland Under-21s as national team manager Gordon Strachan’s prepares to name his squad for the forthcoming clashes with Northern Ireland and Gibraltar, added: “It’s a once in a lifetime thing to score ten goals in a game, I’m glad and thankful to be part of the team.

“In 40 years if someone looks up the record books and sees my name there, that’s great.

“It was a bit crazy; we were playing our highest level, at the top of our standards.

“Hopefully we can build on it and carry these results on until the end of the season. You want to win anything in style and we’re doing okay as of now, hopefully we can keep it going.”

Asked if that result proves they should be in the Premiership, Paterson added: “It doesn’t show that we belong in the top-flight, it shows we could play perfectly well there.

“We’re hopefully going to go there at the end of the season.” Well aware of the on and off-field problems afflicting third place Rangers this season, Paterson is relieved the Glasgow club’s failed bid to lure him to Ibrox in summer 2012 came to nothing.

The versatile player was the subject of ‘active interest from Rangers’ but Paterson pledged his future to Hearts.

He added: “I didn’t really know much about it, it was more people talking on Twitter and stuff.

“It was maybe fate I landed in this position and I’m doing really well here.”

Callum Paterson yesterday helped promote a darts fundraising event which will include former world champion Eric Bristow. Money raised from the 15 March event at Tynecastle will go towards the club’s Museum and Heritage Fund.