Ian Cathro won’t pretend he has a particularly strong attachment to the old wooden stand that has served as a home to Hearts for the past 103 years but he has heard the stories of those who do.
“I remember Robbo telling me – because he does tell stories! – that he couldn’t get the noise of the timber being banged out of his head at times, and he told me I’d only heard it once!” said Cathro.
“I do remember it, though, so maybe we could get a recording of that [to be played in the new stand].That would be nice.
“I can’t pretend that I’ve had too many big nights there but obviously we’re inside it, we know it’s old! You know it has stories and I spent a bit of time in the museum with some of the guys who work there, just asking them questions. Their knowledge was unbelievable and I ended up in there for around 45 minutes talking about old games and different moments and big European nights and all those things.
“And it’s clear there have been amazing nights that have taken place that will stay with people for their whole lives. That’s why we love it.”
But Cathro’s job is making new memories and helping write the next chapter and when sentiment is replaced by logic he, like everyone else at the club, knows that a new stand is long overdue. Just as he has had to do on the pitch since his arrival, there have been patch-ups in the stand. That no longer is enough. “Right now I take my coat off when I go outside. So it will be pleasant to have heating on in the new stand,” said Cathro, pictured.
“It’s one of those things that is essential. The club wants to grow to a level where it can have big nights and European football. And there are certain things that stadia need to have in order to realistically call that an ambition.
“So it’s an essential step, an exciting one, and I really do think the way the club have planned all this out from our working level and fans coming to enjoy it, it’s going to look good. That’s a factor. Without a doubt. It’s an attractive prospect to come and play in front of what it will be.”
For Cathro and the players the important thing is the atmosphere generated around the whole ground and the fact the new stand will not detract from that.
“I don’t think any of that will be lost,” he added. “It’s important because it keeps the intensity and when anybody talks about playing at Tynecastle that’s what they say.”
“It is one of those stadiums that you just look forward to as an away player. It is that unique, being so close. But being a Hearts player, when it is rocking, it is unbelievable,” adds midfielder Don Cowie. “We have not had that enough this season because performances haven’t been good enough. But when they have, they have been terrific.”
One of the players who has fought to maintain standards through a period of transition and struggle, Cowie knows the perfect way to mark the occasion would be to win against Aberdeen today and attempt to keep the slim hopes of overhauling fourth-placed St Johnstone alive.
“We have a very difficult one against Aberdeen,” said Cowie, “but it is our last game at home, in front of this stand, so hopefully we can go out and win all three points.”