Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Hearts of darkness

Peering through the gloom at Tynecastle
Living in Leith (natural Hibernian territory), as I now do, sneaking off to Tynecastle is not something you do without a few furtive looks over your shoulder. Or a pair of dark glasses. Well, it was a sunny evening when I set off for Gorgie. By the time I got in to the ground to watch Hearts take on English foes Wolverhampton Wanderers in a pre-season friendly, however, my mood was definitely darker.

After 50 minutes or so being made to hang around outside, waiting for an unnecessary queue to evaporate, I'd missed the first 19 minutes of the game and the only two goals (Wolves won 2-0, with embarrassing ease). Thanks to a 'family friendly' 7pm start and the daft decision by the Club to stop home supporters getting tickets on the gate, we all had to hang around while ticket-office operators slowly scrolled their computer screens to find numbered seats. Yes, for a non-packed friendly. Away fans, I later discovered, had been able to hand over their hard-earned cash at the turnstile. As a result they got to see Wolves claim two cheaply conceded goals, including a penalty, in the first half - while hundreds of locals were left outside. Not a good way to encourage people to come back or bring friends and family along. So, hello Tynecastle; and farewell. When I'm not watching Dumbarton and have the chance, I'll be down Easter Road instead.

As for the part of the match I did get to see: it was pretty but poor - an all-too-typical training game in which, much as they huffed and puffed, a slightly under-strength Heart of Midlothian could not get anywhere near the stratosphere occupied by a side that finished just above relegation in the EPL last season. Not a great testimony to to the SPL, I'm afraid. There wasn't a great deal of goalmouth action, either. And what there was I strained to see: because after making me hang around for the best part of an hour, the Hearts admin kindly put me behind a pillar in the 'main' stand. Pity, because the rest of the ground is great, and there was acres of space across the way on the cantilevered side.

(Oh, and it was good to have the kids on the pitch at half-time, to receive some applause and encouragement. That was definitely the bright spot of the occasion.)

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