Tom English: 'Not for the first time, we have to ask what is going on at Tynecastle'
There is an excuse, of course, in that he was probably only following a lead set by Gordon Smith at Hampden. Smudger came out a while back and stated, with some certainty, that Driver ticked all the qualification boxes. He presumably told Craig Levein the same. "He's done his time, now go get 'em", which the Scotland manager duly did. How the chief executive could allow this thing to go so far down the road without doing a definitive check on Driver's eligibility is difficult to fathom.
It's likely that Levein's insistence of a few weeks ago that a thorough examination be carried out on the five-year claim has saved Scotland, and Smith in particular, from some serious mortification down the line. It's embarrassing enough for Driver as it is. Having gone public with his desire to play for Scotland, what's he to do now with rekindling his dream of international football? Announce that to the FA that, no, he's actually a proud Englishman after all. If they were to tell him to get lost then they'd be within their rights. Driver has been left in a difficult position here.
It's a perplexing saga and no mistake. Or it would be if you were of a mind to get animated about it, which I don't believe many people are. There's been a fair degree of the 'so what' about the reaction since the news broke on Friday and if the national mood is one of general indifference then it's understandable. Driver has talent, no doubt about it. But he's also yet to prove that he's going to amount anything meaningful as a footballer simply because he's been out injured – or hampered by the effects of injury – for a fair old while. No, it's not so much Driver's plight that fascinates as that of his club. Not for the first time, we have to ask what in the name of God is going on at Tynecastle?
Ever since an elderly Jambo came thundering into this newspaper's office demanding that "the balloon English come down and face me like a man", this column has had a testy relationship with the Hearts faithful. He may have been objecting to me calling a section of the Hearts support half-dead zombie freaks, but it was hard to tell because the old boy was spluttering a bit. Safe to say that there's no love lost there. Frankly, they misunderstand me. This space has admiration for Hearts' ability to keep us entertained with bizarre and self-defeating happenings.
Think about what's been going on with the good people of Tynecastle in the last week or so. Vladimir Romanov reacted to Scotland and Lithuania being drawn together in the European championship qualifiers by saying that both are garbage.
"We won't see any good football," trumpeted Vlad. "There is none, either in Scotland or Lithuania."
We can imagine Jim Jefferies and his players took kindly to that one. "Does he mean us, too?" JJ might have wondered.
But Vlad has a fan, and in keeping with the sense of the surreal that surrounds this club, the man is Avram Grant. Lordy, the Portsmouth manager, marooned at the bottom of the Premier League and facing questions from an administrator who seems keen on winding up his club not to mention the quizzing he's been getting on his visits to a massage parlour, has been speaking up on behalf of Romanov. He's a great bloke, said Grant, with that winning smile of his.
You have to marvel at the scrapes Hearts get themselves into. Christian Nade and Ian Black were involved in a dressing room bust-up the other night. Fantastic drama. Apparently, the pair of them had a right old set-to in the dressing room after their loss to Celtic, with Nade set to be fined for his part in the fracas.
Away in the corner, there was Jose Goncalves, a man in isolation, refusing to sign a new contract and denied a place in Jim Jefferies' team until he does. As for JJ, the great homecoming has yet to catch fire. Some of us are still wondering what exactly Csaba Laszlo did wrong. That's just us, though. Get this from a real Tynecastle charmer on the web: "Boo hoo. Get the tissues out. You can just picture Shabby, sitting in his flat with five days' stubble nursing some Vimto that had long gone flat muttering inane ramblings to himself whilst rocking violently back and forth, staring blankly at the TV watching videos of Hearts."
JJ's first three games in his official role as manager and messiah resulted in three defeats and no goals. They hung on for a 3-2 win yesterday, but that was against a rock-bottom Falkirk team who shipped out their manager and appointed his assistant just two days before.
This kind of thing could only happen to Hearts. Sack one guy, bring in a saviour and then watch the whole thing go down the plughole. If there's ever a fly-on-the-wall documentary made at Tynecastle – pity the fly – then we could be talking about a seminal piece of film-making. I'm hearing great things about a film coming out of America called Facing Ali – fascinating interviews with some of the men who shared a ring with the Greatest, but Hearts Uncovered might top it for incident.
Nade vs Black, Jose vs JJ, Driver vs the abacus, Vlad vs the world. The Jambos are right. Theirs is a truly extraordinary club.