Here’s a very quick posting of the last of Pete Sixsmith‘s New Year trilogy … plus excuses for absence from the Reebok ..
One way that I fill in my non-football nights is by going to a rock choir in Bishop Auckland. Rather than Mozart we do Meatloaf and one of his songs “Two out of three ain’t bad” sums up the Sixsmith New Year Treble.
Tuesday’s game at Whitby was most entertaining and Sunderland did produce some reasonable football in the first half at Anfield. And when that came to a grinding halt, it was possible to appreciate, if not actually enjoy, the master class that Suarez gave.
However, Hearts v Hibs was a game too far. Full of commitment and passion, but desperately short of quality and finesse, it probably summed up the increasingly desperate situation that the Scottish Premier League finds itself in.
It was an atmospheric night, Tynecastle was full to the gunwales and both teams were looking for bragging rights. A banner reminded the Easter Road faithful that they were “Humped @ Hampden”, while the Jambos fans were reminded that they were going bust in the morning. Just what you would expect from cross-city rivals.
It was never a night for calm and cultured football. The one time traditional Scottish tanner ball player would have been left in a crumpled heap in this game as tackles flew in from all over. Ryan Stevenson put one in on Hibs defender James McPeake that even the rotund Phil Dowd would have given a red card to, while the Hibs defence whacked winger Andy Driver whenever they could.
The nearest Hibs got to a goal was when Leigh Griffiths (on loan from Wolves) and inexplicably nicknamed “thumb” by the home fans, played in Cairney, whose accurate pass was blasted over by Eoin Doyle.
Hearts could have won it in the last minute when a thumping header from John Sutton hit the bar, but the general consensus was that it was a fair result between two average sides.
Edinburgh was very quiet, almost as if it was still dozing off the Hogmanay festivities. Pubs were quiet and the Rose Street Travelodge offered a bed and clean towels for £15. Too good to turn down and it was only a ten minute walk from H.P. Mathers in Queensferry Street, where I enjoyed pints of Deuchars IPA and Stewarts 80/- in the company of three Swedish fans I had met on the train.
Lennart, Daniel and Mattheus had been to The Sports Direct Arena on Wednesday and were taking in their first visit to Tynecastle. We had a long conversation on the train, compared notes on English football (of which they knew an incredible amount) and Swedish football (of which I knew a very small amount).
After the post match pints I’m pretty sure that I had convinced them that Sunderland were far superior to Newcastle in every department, that most fans would be happy if the London clubs played in their own league, then we would be spared the horrors of Stamford Bridge and the sheer middle classedness of Craven Cottage and that if they wanted to see a real old fashioned British ground it was toss up between Goodison Park and Central Park, Cowdenbeath, with Cowden being a fair bit cheaper.
They spoke fondly of Stefan Schwarz, giggled at us paying £2m for Rada Prica and agreed that Seb Larsson worked hard but was not quick enough to play in central midfield. They were great guys and a fine advert for Swedish tolerance and social democracy – and Lennart even swapped his Stella for a Deuchars.
So, that’s the New Year treble over. No visit to Horwich, in fact no football as I have decided to attend a family function in Worcestershire with my youngest brother. I hope that the journey home is a happy one.