Craig Gordon must have a hidden Hearts time machine because science can’t explain how good he still is – Ryan Stevenson


I’m 37 years old and there are some days I struggle to get off the couch.

Craig Gordon is two years older than me and he is throwing himself around a six-yard box making saves that don’t only defy belief but are holding back time.

It is mind-boggling the Hearts keeper is continuing to perform at his current level. What isn’t so hard to believe is the football writers have voted him as their player of the year for a third time.

I know a lot of the Celtic lads have had great seasons but, for me, Gordon has been the stand-out most consistent player in this campaign. Almost every week he has made saves that he has had no right to make and he is the biggest reason why Hearts have had the season they’ve enjoyed.

Craig’s influence stretches way beyond the 90 minutes on a Saturday at Tynecastle. He is the heart and soul of the place – the guy that sets the standards simply by the way he plays, trains and talks. He leads by example – not a shouter and bawler and every person at the club looks up to him.

I didn’t play with Craig but he came into train with us for a spell when he left Sunderland after being out for more than two years with the knee injury that would have killed most players’ careers.

At that point he didn’t know what the future held for him – he eventually signed for Celtic – but when he was in training with us I was in awe of the guy.

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He’d had such a great career with Hearts and Sunderland and had nothing left to prove, apart to himself perhaps, and I know how hard he worked back then to make his current success possible.

He’s nowhere near finished yet either. He’ll be relishing a crack at Europe with the Jambos next season and hopefully he’ll be showing what he’s got at the World Cup in November.

Before that, I can guarantee you that Craig and the rest of the Hearts boys will be heading for Parkhead on Saturday determined to throw a spanner in the works of Celtic’s title party.

A win for Ange Postecoglou’s men would mean the league was won in everything but name and I know for a fact no professional player wants to be there when the other lot are celebrating a league win. Believe me, it will be a big motivation for Robbie Neilson’s boys that it doesn’t happen on their watch.

I’ve been on the wrong side of that scenario in my second season at St Johnstone when we went up to Inverness and lost, giving them the title. Sitting in that dressing room, listening to them having a party, was one of the worst days I’ve had. All you want to do is get on the bus and get out of there even without taking a shower.

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Hearts will have their fans there on Saturday, don’t forget. They won’t want to watch the Celtic support in full celebration mode.

Truth is, though, that these are an awkward few weeks for my former club ahead of the cup final. With third place secured ages ago, they are in a bit of limbo at the moment, counting down the games until the big one.

The players will be wishing that it was already cup final week.

It’s always in the back of the head that an injury could wreck your chances of making the big day. At least that’s how it was for me in the lead up to the only one I played in – the 2013 League Cup Final against St Mirren.

So they’ll want to get through the remaining league games in one piece but that doesn’t mean they’ll go to Celtic Park at the weekend and roll over. And with the player of the year between the sticks, even if they did he’d probably stop everything that comes his way.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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