First Team

Gaffer: "I'm so proud"

5th April 2014

Gary Locke devastated by relegation from SPFL Premiership, but full of praise for his young stars after brilliant 4-2 win at Partick.

Gary Locke tried to find the positives as Hearts were finally relegated from the SPFL Premiership, despite a stirring last stand in today's encounter at Firhill.

Despite Partick taking the lead through an early Kris Doolan goal, the Jambos absolutely blitzed the Glasgow side as goals from Dale Carrick, Billy King and Ryan Stevenson - netting a double - put the boys in maroon into an unassailable lead.

Although Jordan McMillan secured a consolation for Thistle, Hearts thought they were safe from the drop for the third game running, before news of two late goals at St Mirren confirmed the inevitable.

After the match, the gaffer expressed his pride at the improvement his young charges had shown over the course of this hard season, and praised their mental attitude for not giving up until it was taken out of their hands.

"We're obviously disappointed at going down, but it's a shame you're only now seeing the hard work of the young lads coming to fruition now", he said. "They're really improving game by game, and I'm so proud of their effort."

"We didn't focus on other games, all we could do was win our game. When our boys click, we're a half-decent team. We've had a lot to deal with this season, but I think it just shows if we didn't have that deduction we'd have been right in the mix."

When asked about the challenge of returning to the top flight next season, the gaffer maintained the most important result would be Hearts safely navigating their way out of administration, before looking ahead to building on his work this season.

"The biggest challenge has always been coming out of administration. We can't make any plans for next season until we know the club's safe, and we just pray the right decision is made."

"I'd love the chance to build on this next season. Obviously we were making errors a lot early in the season, but as they improve and mature, and if they knew then what they know now, we'd have given ourselves a real chance. Inexperience really cost us, but they're all better players for it."