Craig Halkett on the ‘extra fire’ driving Hearts’ pursuit of league and cup success


Taking in the club’s journey into the delayed 2020 Scottish Cup final, where they were pipped on penalties by Celtic, to their promotion from the Championship at the first time of asking, through to this season’s top three finish in the Premiership and subsequent rewards of European football, as well as this weekend’s trip to Hampden, where they will look to book another shot at Scottish Cup glory, the defender says he and his team-mates have been driven on by the decision taken by the SPFL at the start of the national covid lockdown.

“Going back two years when we got demoted, I had that extra bit of fire in my belly to make sure we got straight back up. When I signed for Hearts the last thing I thought I would be doing was playing in the Championship.

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“So it was all about going away in the summer and getting my head down and working hard and getting back into the Premiership.”

Hearts defender Craig Halkett is targeting a Scottish Cup semi-final win over Hibs this weekend. (Photo by Alan Harvey/SNS Group)

Having done that, the hard work continued. “It was about working as hard as possible to get into the best possible shape I could to give myself the best possible chance of being successful.”

And he wasn’t the only one as the Gorgie outfit looked to make up lost ground.

“All the boys knew it was a massive season after just coming up and thankfully we’ve managed to finish third. The club were really good last year. It’s a big thanks to Bob [McCunn] and Mikey [Williams] and the sports science department. We had four or five weeks off but they still ran sessions in here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. That was from the day we finished right through the summer. You had that option to come in and I managed to get in as much as I could. It definitely helped.

“It’s really important to have your rest because you work hard all season. But once you hear a few boys are going in, you almost have a full session on despite the fact you’re meant to be off. With the shape all the boys were in and the start we got in the league, you realize how important that time was.”

Having impressed on league duty, they want a silver lining.

“It still hurts losing the Scottish Cup to Celtic on penalties. A few of us who were involved still have that in the back of our heads. We need to reach the final and that’s about winning on Saturday.”

If that memory hurts, the way they got to that final can inspire them when they face up to capital rivals HIbs in another semi-final on Saturday.

“That one was tight and went to extra-time. They are fierce games against your rivals and Saturday will be the same.

“I’ve been to a couple of Hampden games with this club but they were during the pandemic and no fans were there. This weekend the support will be massive and we want to repay that faith.”

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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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