Last updated : 03 December 2004 By Pars Mad

A trip to Edinburgh at Christmas time isn’t great at the best of times… it’s a damn sight worse if you’re going to a stadium where your team hasn’t won in yonks!

Pressley gets ready to snuff out the Pars attack.
So any Pars fans swithering over whether to attend Saturday’s encounter with the Gorgie side or not would be forgiven for giving it a miss. Those that are thinking about giving it a mess, however, should consider the fact that this could be the very last time you get to follow your team at Tynecastle. Well, that is unless the soon-to-be constructed Gorgie Tesco superstore will provide some sort of football coverage at any time in the near future.

After a rollercoaster last few weeks – the historic 2-1 victory over Basle followed by the controversial 3-2 loss to Rangers (the ref bottling out of sending a Rangers player off once again!) – John Robertson’s Hearts side will undoubtedly be looking for a morale boosting victory this weekend as the Pars come calling. In truth however, it has been somewhat of a rollercoaster season for the Gorgie side, with the so-called ‘Third Force’ in Scottish football currently occupying sixth spot in the SPL. However, with the arrival of Jambos’ favourite ‘wee Robbo’ to the club, results have begun to look all the more encouraging for the Tynecastle side, culminating in the – aforementioned – tremendous 2-1 away victory against UEFA Cup opponents FC Basle. With the Hearts squad beginning to eradicate itself of the mass injury crisis which seemed to plague the side in the earlier part of the season (chance would be fine thing!), prospective owner Vladimir Romanov’s claims that Hearts will provide a genuine challenge to the Old Firm – the distillery fumes must be strong in Gorgie these days! – may yet begin to look credible. Although then again…

‘Abysmal’ would be a fair word to describe the Pars past record against the Gorgie side, especially that is at the Jambos’ (current) home, Tynecastle. Out of a total of 51 encounters between the sides at the Jambo bowl, the Pars have come back across the forth with just FIVE victories, losing a mammoth 34 times. The overall match record between the two sides looks just as lopsided, with the Pars winning just 21 times in a total of 102 encounters – the Edinburgh side coming out winners 58 times. So, in reality, it wouldn’t be crazy to predict a somewhat disappointing train journey home for any Fifers this Saturday – although if you want my advice, a trip to Edinburgh bar ‘The Western’ is certainly a good pick-me-up after your team has just been on the receiving end of a right royal humping!

Recent (or basically any) trips to Tynecastle for Pars fans usually brings a certain feeling of disappointment – the 7-1 annihilation only a few years back springs immediately to mind! The same then, can be said for the Pars previous trip across the forth to Tynecastle. After going ahead through an Andy Tod header early in the first-half, a depleted Pars side eventually went down to a Mark De Vries double amid scenes of mass (aye right!) protest against the club owner Pieman Robinson – mass meaning throwing a few balloons onto the pitch, something which the Hearts coaching staff have been doing for years! I wonder what the Jambo fans will try to get shot off next now that a certain Mr Romanov is about to control assume over the club – the bogging distillery (or so they claim!) smell that hangs over the stadium would be a start!

The possible return to training of Noel Hunt in the coming days and weeks will surely encourage fans that have been desperate for a solution to what could prove to be somewhat of a striking problem. Although, if the truth be told, Hunt’s possible return to the Pars side is just the tip of an injury-hell iceberg which has plagued the Pars for many a week. First team regulars Greg Shields, Andrius Skerla, Ritchie Byrne, Simon Donnelly, Billy Mehmet and Derek Young all continue to struggle for full fitness. Add to this Aaron Labonte’s impending suspension and the situation does look fairly grim going into Saturday’s encounter – although the inclusion, and subsequent performance, of Gary Dempsey in Tuesday’s Reserve victory over Dundee does provide some cause for optimism. With the so many players out injured, the main cause for concern would appear to be the Pars defence with Scott Wilson seemingly without a central defensive partner ahead of Saturday’s fixture. Although with Andy Tod and Scott Thomson, aswell as youngster Craig McKeown, more than capable of filling the centre-half berth, Hay has no real shortage of options. Another interesting inclusion this Saturday could be the reappearance of young right-back Greig Ross – subbed soon into the second-half of the Reserve fixture after an impressive performance – after the injury to first-choice right-back Greg Shields. After an excellent debut performance against Kilmarnock only two weeks ago, Ross will surely be unphased going into this Saturday’s encounter.

So, with the Pars travelling to Tynecastle with a squad thinner than one of the Cheeky Girls (or both of them together in fact!) and with the recent gut-wrenching departure of the legend that is Craig Brewster from the club, Saturday’s fixture doesn’t look to promising at all. However you’d have to fancy the Pars chances going into this fixture…bear with me. I mean, with all the bad fortune suffered by the Pars recently, someone up there must be due us favour or two sometime soon!