London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth Moira Gordon auth-> Eddie Smith
18 of 039 Michael Stewart 62 L SPL A

King of the castle

Moira Gordon
THE PROPOSALS are still making their way through the planning process but Csaba Laszlo can't wait for Hearts to complete their stadium redevelopment and bolster the Tynecastle crowds.
On Wednesday he welcomes Motherwell to his home patch, aware that three points would help keep his men on track for a Europa League place next term and he is already pleading with his bosses to play the matches at Tynecastle if they do qualify.

"Over the last 10-15 years, Heart of Midlothian has developed a small and very nice stadium into a castle – another Edinburgh Castle! A lot of the time I look at opponents when they come here and I see something in their eyes. There is a fear about coming here. The ground is very atmospheric, very claustrophobic and our opponents can tell they are never going to get a comfortable time here."

And he knows what he is talking about.

"I know from experience the difference it can make. When I brought Ferencvaros here in the UEFA Cup (in 2004], the tie was definitely made easier for us because we played at Murrayfield. When I arrived in Edinburgh, the sports director took me to Tynecastle and I thought: 'Oh no!' Because I knew we had a very difficult job ahead of us. I stood on the pitch and looked around the stadium and thought, 'this is not good for us'. But then they told me: 'No, this is our home stadium but we will be playing the European tie at Murrayfield.' So we went to Murrayfield and when I saw it I thought, 'this is OK, we can handle Hearts here' (Ferencvaros won 1-0].

"So, as a former Ferencvaros coach, I know that's the initial reaction when other clubs see Tynecastle for the first time. When you see the surroundings and the way the fans are right on top of you, you know you are going to be in for an extremely difficult night."

That was certainly the case in previous years, where European nights at Tynecastle were as atmospheric as any and shock results and memorable performances reflected the advantage garnered from the club's caldron-like stadium. But recently numbers have dictated a switch to Murrayfield. Laszlo hopes that trend can be reversed, even if it does mean some fans missing out.

"With our supporters behind us we can beat anybody here. Believe me, we could play the biggest team in the world and their players wouldn't feel comfortable in our stadium. They would be a little bit afraid. With a little help from God and a lot of work from ourselves maybe we can come here next season for some Europa League games.

"I don't want to see us playing at Murrayfield – I'd like to see us play here at Tynecastle. Here we have a chance to beat any team on our day."

Although his mind temporarily flits away to next season and the possibility of bringing European football back to Tynecastle, it is Wednesday night's fixture which represents the next step in getting there. That's the 'hard work' bit he was referring to.

His side are unbeaten in their previous eight home league games but, having won at home to Motherwell early in the season, they also lost to them at Fir Park, so nothing is being taken for granted, especially after the last stoppage-time blow dealt by St Mirren in the most recent SPL match at Tynecastle.

"I was very disappointed in our last home game against St Mirren. We didn't play bad football but we were very unlucky. I know when opponents come here, they talk about Tynecastle being a very dangerous place to come to. I know we can beat anybody here ... but we can also lose some games here. However, if the passion is there, we will beat Motherwell."

In the final run in to the split, Laszlo says a win on Wednesday would keep the Fir Park side at a distance and move the Gorgie side a step closer to ensuring they are in the final mix as the season reaches its denouement.

"I've said before the SPL isn't just about Rangers and Celtic. Aberdeen and Dundee United are also benefitting through not changing their coach or too many players in the team and, to me, Hearts are also a surprise team this season, because we have a new manager, new players and we are in the middle of a global financial crisis in football. I must compliment my team for showing a good attitude and for bringing the supporters back to Tynecastle. In the last five, six, seven games we had over 15,000 fans so it's nearly full houses again. This is fantastic."

But it's what happens if the plans come to fruition and the capacity is increased further that really tickles him.

"With the passion of our fans, if we could raise the capacity to 30,000, I think we could beat Ibrox and Celtic Park for atmosphere. Can you imagine a stadium this tight, with the fans so close to the pitch, with 30,000 passionate Hearts fans inside? We would kill everybody here."

There's nothing wrong with grand plans, it's about implementing them. First step, three points on Wednesday.

Taken from the Scotsman

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