VICTORY for Hearts in tomorrow’s Edinburgh derby would be a fitting reward for the supporters’ fundraising efforts, Jamie MacDonald believes.
The Hearts fans have contributed more than £700,000 to the cause since they were warned last month that the club was being threatened with closure due to lack of cash.
MacDonald and his team-mates have also helped by buying shares and taking part in other ventures, but the goalkeeper knows that a win in the Scottish Cup fourth-round tie would mean more to the Hearts support than any charitable gesture.
“The fans have been unbelievable since the trouble started,” MacDonald said yesterday. “We try to win every game no matter what, but it would be a big one for the fans and that’s what we’ll be going out and trying to do.
“It was something unexpected from our point of view – we didn’t really see it coming and, a couple of weeks ago, it was worrying times. But the fans have really pulled together and made the players feel a lot more comfortable. It seems the situation is getting better and, hopefully, it continues that way.”
MacDonald played his part in the biggest match in the history of the fixture back in May when Hearts beat Hibernian 5-1 in the Scottish Cup final. So much has changed since then at both clubs that he sees little point in watching a video of that match again as part of his preparation for tomorrow’s game at Easter Road, but he does, of course, retain fond memories of both that day and the following one, when the Hearts squad went on a victory parade through Edinburgh.
“Definitely not,” he said when asked if he planned to watch the Hampden game again. “May was a great day for everyone associated with the club, but it’s in the past.
“Football doesn’t give you time to look back on things. Hibs are a completely different team to how they were last year, we’ve changed a lot, so it’s a different game. And we’ll try and win the game and try and get to the cup final again this year.
“It’s something that, once I get to the end of my career, I’ll look back on then. Don’t get me wrong: it was a great day and it’s still fresh in the memory. But it’s a new season and football doesn’t allow you to dwell on past successes.
“The bus parade the next day just showed you the support we had and it hit home just how big a club this is. Seeing the people who turned out for the bus parade that day is something I’ll always love. The day was obviously great, but the parade was special.”
The day was obviously not so great for the Hibs squad, but MacDonald respected the dignity with which they responded at the end of such a crushing defeat.
“After the game a lot of them shook our hands and said well done. They were obviously very disappointed, more at how they performed themselves.
“But they were very gracious in defeat and that’s all you can ask for. They’ll use that day as a motivation, but it’s another game and another derby and both teams will be going out to win regardless.”
Given the teams’ respective league form, Hibs would appear to have a far better chance of winning this game than they were given in May.
But MacDonald is quietly confident that his team can maintain their exceptional record against their rivals.
“People might look at us as underdogs, but we don’t see it that way. It’s a derby game. We’re 12 games unbeaten against them and there might be a mental block on the Hibs side of things.
“I don’t know why we’ve got on a run. We just seem to lift our game on derby day and, hopefully, we can do that again and get the win.”