First Team

Boycie: our Hampden motivation

14th April 2022

Cup football against Hibs carries special memories for Heart of Midlothian - and for one man in particular. 

For Liam Boyce and his Hearts team-mates, though, the focus is squarely on the task at hand – namely, a trip to Hampden Park to take on the Leith outfit in the semi-final of the Scottish Cup.

Boycie has taken on a slightly deeper role since returning to Robbie Neilson's starting XI after an injury lay-off, but our attacker says he's happy to go anywhere if it means the boys in maroon keep winning.

“I’d always rather play well than score, to be honest," he told the media ahead of the semi-final.

"Sometimes scoring goals can mask a poor performance. When you’re also playing well, the goals will come on their own and help your team win the game.

 “Every season you go through a run where you don’t score. Even when I was in Ireland, I played a bit deeper. All you have to do in football is win, so if that involves playing deeper, then I’ll do it."

Having seen off Hibs at Tynecastle last week to clinch third place in the Premiership, the JTs are well aware of the importance of getting the job done in the derby double-header at the national stadium.

The Scottish Cup has held mixed emotions for Liam over the course of his two years in Gorgie: he scored the decisive goal to dump Hibs out of the semi-final in 2020 before seeing Hearts cruelly denied in the final against Celtic - with no fans permitted to attend either fixture owing to lockdown restrictions. 

A lot has changed in the years since those games, and the prospect of locking horns with our rivals on the biggest stage in front of a sea of maroon has energised Boycie.

 “That’s the reason you play football. I thought last Saturday that the Hibs fans were good and obviously our fans gave a bit back and forward too. That’s what derbies are all about; you want to be involved and send people home happy," he added.

"We still remember how we were two penalties away from winning the cup. It was heart-breaking at the time but we’ll use that as motivation to try and go one step further.

“Since coming back up, to have the style of play that we have is a huge credit to the manager. Off the pitch, we’re all so close. We all have a laugh but when it’s time to work we’re serious.

"The league is in a good position now that we’re guaranteed third. When you play for a big club like Hearts, you need to win every game. It doesn’t matter if it’s a semi-final or the league games for the rest of the season – we want to win."

You can catch Liam's full preview of the semi-final on Hearts TV.