Craig Gordon on his incredible Hearts love affair at Hampden that’s brought him joy as player and punter

Craig Gordon was at Hampden for Hearts’ greatest moment of modern times as they dished out a Scottish Cup Final scudding to Hibs a decade ago.

The big keeper was there as a Jambo. to point

Going full circle on a journey from diehard fan to becoming the club’s £9million keeper and record transfer comes all the way back to humble supporter.

Gordon freely admits the thought it might stay that way for the rest of his days swirled round his head as he watched goal after goal batter down on Hibs in that 5-1 hammering.

Released by Sunderland just weeks earlier and about to travel down a long, dark, clubless two-year road of injury hell, Gordon – then only 29 – was entering the lowest ebb of his career.

What happened in his remarkable rise back to the very top of club and international football is one of Scottish football’s most inspiring stories of recent times.

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Now, a month shy of 10 years on from that bittersweet Hampden memory, Gordon is dreaming of another Scottish Cup Final.

Only this time he won’t be celebrating among 20-odd thousand Jambos. He’ll be right at the front of the queue to lift the trophy as captain.

One more hurdle stands in the way of another final appearance – this afternoon’s monumental derby with Hibs in the last four.

Hearts have never lost to their arch-rivals at the national stadium – a run that not only takes in the 2012 final but also the 2006 semi-final when Gordon was between the sticks in a 4-0 semi-final drubbing. And the Gorgie hero said: “Back in 2006 was a great day. It was a great win – until the 2012 team outdid us a little bit!

“I was at the 2012 final watching as a fan. I had just left Sunderland and I was in the stand that day watching.

“It was a very emotional one for every Hearts fan. To win the cup against Hibs and not only that, to win it in the fashion they did, was a fantastic achievement and that the whole team will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on May 8.

“It was a huge result and one that everybody will remember forever. But that was their achievement and it was nothing to do with me.

“That was so long ago and with the injury troubles at that time I probably thought the chances were I wouldn’t get back on a football pitch let alone get back to playing in the Premier League or international football, to get back to any level .

“I got there and it is done now. I don’t look back, I just look towards the next game.

“To win any trophy for Hearts would be incredible and that’s what we are striving to do.”

Gordon and Hearts reached the semis in 2020 – and dished out another Hampden lesson to their arch-rivals before losing on penalties to Celtic in the final.

That semi-final clash was played out in front of an empty Hampden amid the height of the coronavirus crisis.

Gordon was in breathtaking form on that sodden evening to the point he even stunned himself with one save low to his left to deny Kevin Nisbet from point-blank range.

An image of the keeper laughing in the aftermath of that moment is etched in Jambos’ memories.

And asked what he was laughing at, the normally placid shot-stopper said: “It was a reaction to the Hibs players who were standing in the box. I think it was Christian Doidge who was looking at me.

“I knew it was a good save and it was a good feeling to be able to stand and look at the disbelief on the strikers’ faces.”

Another classic Scottish Cup image of Gordon is of the keeper on his knees, arms aloft, after Tom Rogic had slammed home a last-gasp winner for Celtic against Aberdeen in 2017.

Gordon is now going for his fourth win in the competition and his second with Hearts after 2006.

He said: “No matter what, everybody wants to win the Scottish Cup.

“The prestige of winning that, for any club, is huge, so it would be great if we could get to a final and do that. But we are still two games away from that and the next one is against Hibs in the semi-final so we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves.”

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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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