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BRAGS TO RICHES; Fans seem more interested in taunting rivals than facing grim reality of life in capital.

Byline: Hugh Keevins

Hearts fans flew the Swedish flag at McDiarmid Park last Sunday, with 0-7 daubed on it in case anyone was confused by what was going on.

This is the club who are at death's door because they're in danger of being liquidated due to PS28.5million worth of debts run up by Vladimir Romanov.

At the very least, Hearts run the risk of relegation following the deduction of 15 points for going into administration.

If they're not exactly in the grubber, they could certainly give you directions on how to get there. Yet their fans are the ones laughing at Hibs, and taunting them over the Europa League defeat at Easter Road that will clearly live on in infamy.

They're not just noisy neighbours.

The Jambos are openly mocking the fact that this Hibs team is a feckless bunch of under-achievers who've managed to make Hearts feel good about themselves during the club's darkest days.

And at a time when they're living off their own supporters and getting people to work for nothing at Tynecastle. That would once have been the cause of shame, as would the memory of how the Hearts fans donned Cossack hats and danced in the streets to celebrate Romanov's arrival in their misguided midst.

Now none of that matters because Hibs are so bad they're diverting attention away from the financially challenged half of Edinburgh.

The Hearts team is full of weans and a transfer embargo means grown-ups can't be signed this season.

And last week Gary Locke's side had one shot at goal during the entire 90 minutes against St Johnstone.

But never mind all that, their fans will always have the memory of Hibs losing seven goals at home to Malmo. Which might partly explain why the derby at Tynecastle has been sold out for days.

Hearts fans are assembling to inflict the first derby defeat of their administration period and gloat like never before.

And if it happens it might be the one they carry as comfort for years if they go out of business altogether and relocate to the lower divisions of the SPFL.

Who would you fancy to win the Edinburgh derby this lunchtime? And what margin of victory will Hearts achieve once Locke gathers his team from the soft play area and washes their faces before sending them out to play? Hibs' bottle crashed spectacularly in front of their own supporters. What will they be like when they're confronted by pumped-up fans determined to turn Hearts' season into a crusade against adversity? The clock's ticking for Locke because his side need to avoid losing so much ground in the early part of the season that the points deduction becomes a noose around their necks and team morale is strangled. The alarm bells are also ringing for Pat Fenlon as Hibs go from one high-profile disaster to another.

This afternoon's game is a chance to prove their self worth. And it would be hard to see where Fenlon goes from here if Hearts' weans prove too much for his team.

Maybe Judy Murray and her dad, Roy Erskine, formerly of Hibs, should give the Hibees a pep talk.

Judy used her appearance at the Scottish Cup draw on Thursday to lecture footballers on why they should have her son's drive to succeed.

Andy lives or dies by his individual performance, while footballers can hide behind each other in a collectively dysfunctional unit if anything goes wrong.

Perhaps Judy's words will have some impact on the Hibs squad.

The ultimate embarrassment or the road to redemption. The choice is theirs today.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 11, 2013
Words:603
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