John Robertson urges Hearts to seize cup final chance

 

Scottish Communities League Cup final: St Mirren v Hearts

  • Venue: Hampden Park
  • Date: Sunday, 17 March
  • Kick-off: 15:00 GMT

Coverage: Watch live on BBC One Scotland; listen live on BBC Radio Scotland; live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Nine months ago, Hearts romped to victory in the Scottish Cup final by beating Edinburgh rivals Hibernian 5-1.

Since then, the club have had two new managers and several first-team players have been sold to help tackle the club's ongoing financial difficulties.

And yet, this Sunday, the Tynecastle men return to the national stadium with a chance of winning Scottish football's other major cup tournament, the League Cup.

Hearts' all-time top scorer John Robertson feels the match against St Mirren represents a unique chance for his old club.

"This is an opportunity for Hearts, for a brief period, to hold both cups at the same time," he told BBC Scotland.

John Robertson during his playing days at Hearts

Robertson scored for Hearts in the 1996 League Cup final but missed out on a winners' medal

"It's a chance for Andy Webster and Darren Barr to be part of a very, very select band at Hearts that have got a Scottish Cup winners' medal and a League Cup winners' medal."

Barr, Webster, goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald and defenders Marius Zaliukas and Danny Grainger are the only survivors from the starting line-up when Hearts last graced Hampden in a final but the latter two will not play on Sunday due to injury.

Ryan McGowan, Suso Santana, Ian Black, Rudi Skacel, Andrew Driver and Stephen Elliott have all moved on and Hearts teams this season have featured more and more young players.

However, Robertson believes there is still enough experience in the squad.

"If you look at the spine of the Hearts team, it will still be very experienced," he explained.

"You'll have Andy Webster and Danny Wilson playing right in front of Jamie MacDonald. You look at Darren Barr and Ryan Stevenson in the middle of the park and up front they may well go with [Michael] Ngoo and [John] Sutton.

"They'll be looking on them to lead by example and let the youngsters have the freedom to go and play and show the skills they've got."

May's Scottish Cup triumph was Hearts' third in 14 years but their League Cup endeavours in recent years have been less fruitful.

"They've not won this cup for 50 years," said Robertson.

"It's a wonderful opportunity for them to go and win another piece of silverware. You have to grasp it while it's there.

"What they've got to understand is that chances like this don't come along that often. A lot of them would've been at the cup final last year. They'll have seen what went on and they may think: 'wow, this happens every year'.

"It doesn't and the very fact that Hearts have not won the League Cup for 50 years just proves that point.

"It doesn't matter what cup you're playing for, you want to win it. If you look at Hearts in their lifetime, I think they've won the League Cup four times.

"They've been in existence since 1874 and they're not in double figures with any of the trophies. It should mean everything in the world for them to win it.

"For the young lads, this might be a once in a lifetime opportunity to win a piece of silverware and carve their name into the rich fabric, the rich history of Hearts Football Club."

And Robertson's prediction?

"I'm going to have to go with Hearts," he adds. "I think they'll nick it 2-1."