THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

15 May ~ This Saturday Hibs take on Hearts in the Scottish Cup final. If you can’t remember the last all-Edinburgh final, don’t worry – it was in 1896. Hibs last won the Cup in 1902. Anticipation is high in the capital for the "salt and sauce" final (so called because Edinburgh doesn’t do vinegar on its chips). The game will be a refreshing change for a country usually so intensely dominated by two other clubs. Edinburgh football has almost always been the poor cousin of the Glaswegian version, and the game comes well down the list of things for which the capital is famous (tourism, politics, experimental theatre, banking, insurance, cemetery-loitering dogs, frigid pandas…).

But Hearts against Hibs is a big, passionate derby and most of Scotland is savouring the prospect of a half-maroon, half-green Hampden. The Edinburgh Evening News staff are so excited that they’ve penned and performed Go East, complete with panda suits and unsubtle digs at Glasgow, and posted the embarrassing result on YouTube.

The final will also be a watershed match for two clubs in transition. The best thing that can be said about Hearts’ recent spending is that it hasn’t been as reckless as Rangers’. Belated attempts to balance the books have forced the exits of key players at the ends of their contracts. David Obua, Adrian Mrowiec and club talisman Ian Black will not play in maroon again after the final. Star player Rudi Skacel admits he may be leaving too. To reinforce the Jam Tarts’ newly limited expectations, they’ve finished fifth in the league, when their wage bill dictates that anything less than third is a failure.

A few miles to the east, the first 95 per cent of Hibs’ season was tortuous. They only guaranteed SPL survival in the penultimate game of the season, walloping Dunfermline 4-0 in front of 15,000 delirious fans. With a wage bill half that of Hearts, Hibs always sell their best young players, such as Stephen Fletcher, Scott Brown, Stephen Whittaker, Derek Riordan and Garry O’Connor (O’Connor is now back, and scoring vital goals; if Hibs win the Cup, he’s promised to run down Princes Street naked). The club’s financial responsibility is laudable but almost led to relegation. For most of this season they’ve defended atrociously and struggled for results, and they replaced manager Colin Calderwood with Pat Fenlon in November, in a gamble to avoid the drop.

Fenlon’s key singings, particularly Jorge Claros, Tom Soares and James McPake, all on loan, have turned things round just in time, perhaps enough to convince fans that, in the Cup final, they can overcome the rivals who’ve beaten them all three times they’ve met in the league this season. The result of the final will indicate if the balance of power in Edinburgh football is shifting or not. The Scottish Cup is exciting again. Mark Poole

Comments (8)
Comment by bigmartydnb 2012-05-15 11:41:34

an inverness fan, but rooting for the hibees on this one. would be a disaster for them not to end their hoodoo of the scottish cup, but with hearts unbeaten for several years in the edinburgh derbies, i do fear for the cabbage..

Comment by Ichabod 2012-05-15 12:32:00

The balance of power in the capital will not depend on one result, Heart of Midlothian are too far ahead of the 'wee team' for that to matter. It is however a great event, so important one or two Glasgow based reporters (journalist is not a word to use here) have noticed it was happening. They have of course decided to concentrate on their devious club rather than Scotland's greatest cup final since, well 1896. Scottish football fans will be watching, and all will appreciate the the Heart of Midlothian captain lifting the cup towards heaven I'm sure.

Comment by TheRedMax 2012-05-15 12:43:13

Good luck to the Hibbees on Saturday, even though they defeated my lot in the semi-final.
110 years between Scottish Cup wins is long enough I think.

Comment by jameswba 2012-05-15 12:48:07

Hearts are perhaps a bit lucky to be there. I was at Tynecastle for their QF with St Mirren and they were run ragged for 30 mins. They finally got away with a draw in what was an absolute classic cup-tie, then won the replay.

The final is a fantastic prospect. Heart says Hibs, head says Hearts....

Comment by markrpoole 2012-05-15 14:16:55

UPDATE: Hearts-Hibs Cup Final anticipation has now reached fan-burns-ticket-trying-to-iron-out-creases levels: http://bit.ly/L6A9Sq

Comment by nastynip 2012-05-15 16:10:10

Glad to see this final happening and it seems to genuinely have captured the imagination in Scotland. In a perfect world these clubs would have the fans and resources to regularly challenge at the top of Scottish football, but sadly Scottish football is as far from perfect as it's possible to be.

Was however left groaning at the EEN's predictable digs at Glasgow. Sneering at the poor, uncultured weegies (yet simultaneously coming across as oddly jealous of them) is a daily box to tick for that curtain twitchers' rag.

Comment by ingoldale 2012-05-16 09:19:17

Come on the HIBEES!

Comment by markrpoole 2012-05-17 11:10:31

UPDATE UPDATE: A Hearts fan has had 'Scottish Cup Champions 2012' tattooed on his arm... days before the final: http://bit.ly/Leu7zc

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