London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Page <-Team Sat 12 Apr 2003 Partick Thistle 1 Hearts 1 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Craig Levein <-auth Jim Black auth-> Mike McCurry
[J Mitchell 73]
4 of 005 Steven Pressley 79 L SPL A

Sorry state of affairs for fans, admits Levein


Partick Thistle 1
Hearts 1

IF ONLY every football manager could be like Craig Levein, for even the more experienced hacks in his midst were taken aback by the refreshing candour of the Hearts manager’s comments.

Levein did not attempt to mask reality by indulging in "manager speak". Neither did he endeavour to justify the dearth of entertainment.

For once, a manager’s thoughts are worth recording in some detail by way of an accurate summation of an encounter that was almost painful to watch, such was the unrelenting tedium.

Levein went as far as to offer a public apology and, in doing so, encouraged the belief that not all of his brotherhood are blighted by an inability to throw off the protective cloak they invariably wrap around their players.

Levein may be deemed to have offered an excuse of sorts when he espoused the view that the fiery state of the Firhill pitch had made it extremely difficult for both sets of combatants to give of their best.

He also refused to criticise his charges in terms of the levels of effort, commitment and desire they displayed. "These are qualities I look for from my players and I certainly can’t fault them in these areas," said Levein.

"But, football wise, it was a little bit of an off day for us. We didn’t perform to our best and I would like to apologise for the spectacle.

"We have been involved in our fair share of games that have been extremely exciting so please forgive us for this one. It happens sometimes."

‘We didn’t perform to our best and I would like to apologise for the spectacle’- CRAIG LEVEIN

There is little doubt that the playing surface did indeed contribute to the spectacle - or lack of it. "Everything was firing off the ground at 100mph and players have to concentrate much more on their passing when conditions are like that," Levein reflected.

"The park had a huge part to play. When you can’t control the ball properly things have to be difficult. It’s also the case that when you have two teams with a lot to play for it can result in a scrappy game."

On a more positive note, Levein added that for the umpteenth time this season Hearts had come from behind to garner some reward for their efforts.

Hearts ensured a share of the spoils when their captain, Steven Pressley, cancelled out Jamie Mitchell’s 73rd-minute strike five minutes later. Both goals were in keeping with the general standard in that they were fairly untidy affairs.

Hearts goalkeeper Tepi Moilanen had appeared to have Mitchell’s header in safe keeping but somehow contrived to loosen his grasp, while Pressley’s fourth goal of the season will not win any awards the way he almost prodded the ball over the line.

According to Gerry Collins, the home team’s assistant manager, Pressley’s contribution should have been struck off on the grounds that Hearts conceded two fouls in the immediate build-up.

Collins went on to explain that referee Michael McCurry had conveyed the message that he did not wish to discuss the matter with any of the home club’s representatives, hence John Lambie had chosen to duck the post-match press conference for fear of saying something he might regret.

"It was a scrappy game," Collins admitted, "but I thought we did all right.

"Games are not going to be pretty at this time of the season. But overall we have to be happy with a point and aggrieved that we didn’t get three and create some leeway between ourselves and Motherwell."

Perhaps the most appropriate comment came via the advert placed by the home club’s vice-chairman, Allan Cowan, which proclaimed: "It’s Firhill For Thrills, Cowan For Wills".

This begged the question: Did the Glasgow solicitor have a premonition of sorts that the game would die of shame?

Taken from the Scotsman

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