London Hearts Supporters Club

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Craig Levein <-auth David Hardie auth-> John Rowbotham
[S Dobbie pen 80]
1 of 016 Craig Sives 41 ;Mark de Vries 63 ;Dennis Wyness 81 Other Cup H

Cup dream has sadly runneth dry


THE concept of the Festival Cup was an imaginative one, an ambitious attempt to integrate the Capital’s top two football clubs into the annual jamboree of the arts.

And in time, so the big idea went, it would develop far beyond being just another derby, albeit one with a bit of silverware on offer, to encompass clubs from Edinburgh’s twin cities.

Bayern Munich and Dynamo Kiev were just two of the names mooted but, sadly, it appears the Festival Cup, rather than catching the imagination, has been gripped by apathy if the run-up to Saturday’s match at Tynecastle is anything to go by.

Lauded as an opportunity for Hibs and Hearts fans alike to pay their respects to the legendary Gordon Smith who graced both Easter Road and Tynecastle before going on to do so at Dundee, this weekend’s clash looks likely to attract a crowd far lower than the 10,442 which attended the inaugural match in Leith last summer.

The fact that the game has been reduced, to all intents and purposes, to little more than an encounter between the clubs’ under-19 sides has done nothing to stimulate interest, particularly given admission prices will be £15 for adults and £5 for concessions while Save Our Hearts are calling for Jambo fans to boycott the match as part of their ongoing protests at how the Gorgie club is being run.

The timing of the match has, of course, deprived both clubs of the services of many players. Hearts will be without Craig Gordon, Steven Pressley, Andy Webster and Alan Maybury, away on international duty as are Hibs stars Gary Caldwell, Garry O’Connor, Derek Riordan, Scott Brown, Steven Whittaker and Colin Murdock.

Add in an injury here or there and both sides willl be unrecognisable from the teams Craig Levein and Tony Mowbray would normally deploy.

Having the Festival Cup clash with an international weekend could, and should, have been avoided.

When the Cup was launched last year it was clearly stated it was to be an annual event and yet it was only belatedly that it was decided the game should take place this weekend.

Organising this year’s match was the responsibility of Hearts as the host club but, for some reason, the Tynecastle outfit appeared lukewarm to the prospect of staging the game.

July 31, which appeared the obvious date falling just a week before the new SPL season got underway, was ruled out as Hearts organised a pre-season friendly with Fulham.

That resulted in Hibs then arranging to play Leeds United that day at the behest of Whyte and Mackay, sponsors of both clubs, who were keen to see the Scotland v England rivalry compete for a specially commissioned trophy which is also planned to be an annual event with Mowbray’s players heading for Elland Road next summer.

If that proves to be the case what then for the Festival Cup? If it is to become part of the Edinburgh football scene and, indeed, is to flourish with the participation of some of the Capital’s twin cities as was first mooted then both Hearts and Hibs need to commit themselves to it totally.

Unfortunately the opening day of the SPL season tends to vary year-by-year making it virtually impossible to invite big clubs such as Bayern Munich who tend to have their pre-season arrangements in place 12 months or even longer in advance.

It simply isn’t possible to lift the phone one weekend and ask them if they fancy a game or two in Edinburgh in a week’s time.

But surely, if the Festival Cup is to survive, even if it is competed for solely by Hearts and Hibs, it should be treated seriously and the date pencilled in well in advance and clear of counter attractions other than the event it is meant to mark.

Taken from the Scotsman

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