Tynecastle - Hearts
Saturday March 27th, 2010
V Rangers, Premier League, 12.30pm
By Jim Prentice
1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):
I had wanted to go to Tynecastle more than any other SPL ground (apart from recurring trips to Ibrox of course!) for many years but had never made it. So, when my Rangers Supporters' Club decided to take a coach to see Rangers play the Jambos in Edinburgh, I couldn't refuse! Tynecastle underwent redevelopment on three sides of the stadium during the 1990s but retained it's traditional old Main Stand and I was really looking forward to seeing at first hand how the 'old and new' had been combined.
2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?
Our bus made an early start from Leeds, picking up supporters en route, for the lunchtime kick off, and upon arrival in the capital we parked about ten minutes away from the ground. We went for a couple of pre-match drinks in a pub on the Gorgie Road that was 'away fans friendly' - Edinburgh does a great pint of Deuchars for real ale lovers out there - and there were plenty of eateries on the streets around the ground. Tynecastle is quite easy to find but fans who go to the ground by car may want to arrive in plenty of time before kick off as parking is at a premium. The ground is about 15 minutes' walk down Dalry and Gorgie Roads from Haymarket but is about 40 mins' walk from Waverley station, so it might be better for fans to get a bus or taxi from the latter, or even continue one stop to Haymarket for a shorter journey.
3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?
I really wanted to visit 'Diggers', formally known as the Athletic Arms, prior to kick off as it's supposed to be the best ale house in Scotland, but given that this was a matchday and they would only be allowing home fans in, we plumped for another pub close by, the name of which I can't remember. The pub was heaving with Rangers fans and we had a very refreshing couple of pints of Deuchars and then headed off on the 5 minute walk to Tynecastle. Hearts and Rangers fans tend to get on quite well (neither of us like Celtic at all, so that helps!) and I had a brief chat with a couple of home supporters who had wandered into the pub, and also met a Rangers fan who travels up to most home and away games from Rochester in Kent, which puts my own long journey to matches to shame!
4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?
I have visited grounds in the past that I have been looking forward to getting to but been disappointed when I arrived; however, I have to say that Tynecastle did not fall into this bracket. Away fans are given either all or part of the Roseburn Stand, behind the goal (as ever, we had taken our full allocation and had about 2,500-ish fans), and had a brilliant view of the action from fairly high up in the stand. Having moved around the stand to get to my seat, I really don't think there is a bad seat in the entire stand, with every one offering a decent view of the action, while there are no supporting pillars to impede one's view. The ground looks well balanced, save for the older, smaller Main Stand, with three stands of a similar height. Those three stands are both steep, which gives a great view of the action, and are very close to the pitch; as a result, the atmosphere at Tynecastle, particular for Rangers/Celtic/derby games against Hibs can be electric.
5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, toilets etc...
As mentioned above, the atmosphere was electric at kick-off, with both sets of fans determined to roar their side on to victory. The stewards were a little bit overbearing at times but were okay in general and didn't tell standing fans to sit down. The back concourse of the Roseburn Stand is covered but the sides are slightly open and fans have to walkthrough an uncovered area before getting under the shelter of the rear of the stand. There are food outlets on the concourse and there was a burger van in the aforementioned open section next to the turnstiles. The food was surprisingly better than the rubbish served up at most football grounds!
Rangers were closing in on their second successive SPL title before kick off but knew they really needed three points against Hearts to preserve their lead at the summit. The Gers got to the best possible start after just four minutes when defender Danny Wilson headed in Kevin Thomson's free kick. Hearts restored parity 11 minutes later when Suso Santana brilliantly volleyed home from a difficult angle after Sasa Pappac's hesitation, but Rangers were in the mood for victory and Kenny Miller made it 2-1 on 31 minutes, heading home after Steven Naismith's rasping shot crashed back off the bar. The Gers kept the pressure up in the second half and Naismith swept home just three minutes after the interval before making it 4-1 just just before full time with a header. It was as good an away performance as I'd seen from Rangers in a long time - reminiscent of some of the thrashings the 9-in-a-row team was regularly able to hand out in the 1990s!
6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:
We had no problems getting away once we had made it back to our bus, although I did notice that a lot of the approach roads around the stadium looked quite choked after the final whistle. Our bus made its way west along Corstophine Road past some elegant-looking Georgian buildings and then made its way back to Carlisle via Biggar and then onwards towards home.
7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:
I had a great time - the whole day, the match, the vintage Rangers performance, the pub and even the journey has made it probably my favourite-ever Rangers away day. Tynecastle certainly lived up to my expectations and I would encourage anyone who hasn't been to make it up there for a game, particularly one of the 'bigger' matches against Hibs or the Old Firm, so you can perhaps have a night or two away in Scotland's capital and sample the great beer and Tynie's great atmosphere!
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