London Hearts Supporters Club

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Joe Jordan <-auth None auth-> DD Hope
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Capital's teams fail to raise a gallop even on derby day

4 Jan 1993

WHEN a manager says a game was not a classic you can be sure it was pretty mediocre.

When he says it twice, as Joe Jordan did after the no-scoring draw between his team, Hearts, and Hibernian, you can take it that it was one dire match.

But Joe would have been entitled to say it a third time, just to give a true picture of the Easter Road derby.

There have been very few good capital derbies in recent years but, equally, there have been very few as bad as the latest.

Rarely has there been so much aimless football between sides of premier standard.

Maybe Jordan was right when he added that there had been too much of the 'long ball' play to make the game entertaining but the fact is that, long or short, the ball had a hard time.

The old excuses can be trotted out, the tension of the occasion, the pressure on players not to lose, and all the usual claptrap, but nothing excuses bad play.

After the opening 10 minutes, when the game threatened to be enjoyable, the capacity crowd might as well have turned and faced the other way.

We can say that the defences were good, that Nicky Walker had some fine saves, that there were one or two solid performances, and that Hibs were a bit unlucky, but there ought to be a bit more to chat about after a derby game between two of our more prominent clubs.

Walker pleased Jordan with his display.

"I thought he handled the occasion well and had a couple of fine saves."

Hibs had made the only real chances of the game in that opening period, although Hearts' Ian Baird did shoot over the bar, but Walker blocked one effort from Keith Wright, pipped Mickey Weir to a through ball from Darren Jackson, and dived to hold a Jackson try.

Like his colleagues, Wright felt Hibs were entitled to have ended that four-year wait for a win over their city rivals.

The man who made such a big impression in his first season with Hibs, when they won the Skol Cup, would also like to see a change of fortune for himelf in 1993.

"Last year was not one I will remember fondly," he said, "and I am glad to get started on a new year."

Like the Hibs fans, Wright had anticipated that his partnership with Darren Jackson, bought from Dundee United, would pay dividends in goals, but points out that, because of interruptions through injury and suspension, the two have not had a proper chance to build an understanding.

It will be a wee while yet before they can get that regular run because Wright was booked on Saturday and begins a two-or-three-match suspension in a fortnight.

Their manager, Alex Miller, must have accepted now that God, like His stand-in at Tynecastle, Wallace Mercer, is a Hearts supporter.

This was not the first time during the last four years that Hibs have been the better team but, like the other occasions, a draw was the most they could expect.

"It was a wee bit disappointing not to get a goal," he said, "but I felt we took a lot of credit from the game.

Darren Jackson did really well in the way he brought others into the game."

Hearts had to do without Gary Mackay after the interval.

He was suffering from a strain and was replaced by Allan Preston but neither before or after the change did the Tynecastle side reach the levels of which they are capable.

Craig Levein and Peter van de Ven were excellent defenders but the service to John Robertson and Baird was poor.

Robertson, who invariably scores against Hibs, was seeking a memorable landmark, his 200th goal for the club, but the great moment has only been delayed.

Hibs will improve when players like Weir and Pat McGinlay are match fit again.

Considering their recent absences and the physical demands of a derby, they did well enough but their creative ability, especially that of Weir, gives the side another dimension.

Incidentally, there was an interesting decision by referee Douglas Hope when he deemed a pass-back not to be a pass-back.

Under severe pressure, Tom McIntyre stretched out his foot to knock the ball at knee height into the arms of keeper Chris Reid.

It looked very much like a pass-back to me but Mr Hope considered it a tackle which happened to go back to the keeper.

Still, he had a decent game, had the referee.

Taken from the Herald

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