Hearts and Hibs fans delighted as fixture list throws up prospect of NewYear's derby

HEARTS and Hibs will face up to each other at Tynecastle on New Year's Day in the second Edinburgh derby of the new season with the first taking place at Easter Road on 6 November, it was revealed today.

Provided the fixture isn't switched to accommodate the television cameras, it will be the first traditional New Year's Day derby since the Capital's big two met in Gorgie on the first day of 1998 when Steve Fulton scored twice for Hearts, only for Andy Walker and Pat McGinlay to force a draw.

Today, fans of both clubs welcomed the news having, in recent seasons, seen the big match played as early as 19 December and as late as 28 January, a fact which has united them in condemning the switch away from the chance to "first foot" their Capital neighbours.

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Jane Lewis, secretary of the Hearts' Supporters Trust, said: "It is amazing to have the game on 1 January. It's the first time in years and I think most supporters of both teams will be quite pleased with that."

Mike Riley, chairman of the Hibs Supporters' Association, said: "I think it is great the New Year's Day derby seems to be coming around again but I suspect it might be changed for television.

"It will probably be on 2 January but the fact the first is a Saturday might work in our favour and it would be good to have it back on the traditional derby day."

Meanwhile, Hearts will kick off the new season on 14 August at home as they face St Johnstone while Hibs travel to Fir Park to play Motherwell, the side they pipped by a single point for fourth place last season and the scene of that astonishing 6-6 draw, the highest-scoring game in the history of the SPL.

The Easter Road side won't be too unhappy at having to travel on the opening day having, it is believed, asked for an away game as work on building the new East Stand at Easter Road continues apace.

SPL champions Rangers will unfurl the league flag at home to Kilmarnock while Celtic travel to face Inverness Caledonian Thistle on their return to the top flight.

Former Hibs star Danny Lennon will cut his teeth as an SPL manager as St Mirren host Scottish Cup winners Dundee United, a side which lost just twice away from home last season as they finished third.

Elsewhere, Aberdeen will be at home to Hamilton.