First Team

Opening Day: A look back

20th June 2019

It’s 2019/20 Ladbrokes Premiership Fixtures Day Eve!

As we wait patiently for the release of this season’s fixtures, take a look back at some of the Jambos’ most memorable opening day fixtures in recent years…

 

2015 – Hearts 4-3 St Johnstone

Hearts returned to the Premiership with a bang, edging out the Perth Saints in a seven-goal Tynecastle thriller.

It took only three minutes for Gorgie to erupt when new striker Juanma capatalised on former Hearts man Brad McKay’s slip, bearing down on goal and slotting beyond Alan Mannus.

Five minutes after the restart it was 2-0. Sam Nicholson was hacked down inside the Saints box by Mannus and Osman Sow struck from the penalty spot, only for the keeper to save. Walker beat the chasing pack, however, to slam home the rebound.

St Johnstone pulled one back when Joe Shaughnessy’s long throw into the box was pushed by Neil Alexander – in what looked like a clear foul after being shoved mid-air by a blue shirt – into the path of Simon Lappin, who prodded home.

Just after the hour mark, Hearts looked like they had put the game to bed when Callum Paterson’s flick on found Walker, and the winger played Paterson through for him to shoot low past Mannus and into the back of the net.

With 15 minutes remaining St Johnstone grabbed another goal through John Sutton’s header, and it looked like disaster had struck when Shaughnessy’s  bounced off Blazej Augustyn and then Graham Cummins and over the line.

Not to be beaten, Robbie Neilson’s side hit the winner with ten minutes to go. Paterson’s cross to the near post found Nicholson and he got enough on it to steer the ball away from Mannus and into the bottom corner, ensuring Hearts would take all three points.

 

2014 – Rangers 1-2 Hearts

The Jambos set the tone for the season ahead - running away with the Championship title at the expense of Hibs and Rangers – by defeating the Ibrox side on their own turf.

Dubbed ‘The Revival’, Hearts’ relentless campaign to return to the top tier at the first time of asking looked to be underway when captain Danny Wilson rose highest to head home Billy King’s corner, not long into the second half.

It looked to be a case of ‘same old’ when, a minute into injury time, Kenny Miller’s knockdown found Nicky Law inside the box and he lashed home, past substitute goalkeeper Scott Gallacher, to earn Rangers what looked like a point.

Neilson’s side had other plans though, and Nicholson raced up the park to play a delightful reverse pass into the path of Sow, who carried on into the box and struck a pinpoint shot past both Marius Zaliukas and Cammy Bell, and into the back of the net to send the 1,700 travelling support absolutely wild.

The Jambos would go on to beat Hibs the week after and remain unbeaten until January 2015, and won the title with 21 points and a record seven games to spare.

 

2008 – Hearts 3-2 Motherwell

The Csaba Laszlo era got off to a winning start with a dramatic Tynecastle encounter against Motherwell.

Breaking the deadlock on 25 minutes, Jamie Mole, Audrius Ksanavicius and Andy Driver linked up to send the ball into the box for Michael Stewart to fire home.

Motherwell equalised eight-minutes later through David Clarkson’s close range finish.

The Jambos would go in at the break 2-1 up when Ksanavicius went one-one-one with Graeme Smith and bravely slid in to poke the ball through the keeper’s legs and into the back of the net.

With ten minutes remaining, Motherwell again got back on level terms with Clarkson grabbing his and the Steelemen’s second after blasting beyond the outstretched Steve Banks.

The game took one final twist when, a minute later, the Jambos regained their lead. Saulius Mikoliunas drove into the Motherwell box and slammed an effort past Smith to secure the win.

 

 

 

2005 – Kilmarnock 2-4 Hearts

What could’ve been.

The famous – or infamous, depending on how you look at it – George Burley reign began with a commanding 4-2 victory at Rugby Park.

A new-look Hearts side didn’t take long to make their mark on Scottish football, but they first had to come from behind. Steven Naismith hooked Killie in front from close range after getting on the end of Peter Leven’s long throw in.

Behind for only a minute, Hearts struck back through Rudi Skacel, who fired home the rebound after first forcing a good save from Alan Combe.

The Jambos took the lead a minute into the second half. Edgaras Jankauskas headed Skacel’s cross into Roman Bednar’s path, and he obliged with a header of his own, nodding past Combe.

Mikoliunas would then curl an unstoppable 18-yard left-foot shot beyond Combe to make it 3-1.

Refusing to give up, Killie pulled one back when Gordon Greer bulleted a header past Craig Gordon, but with two minutes remaining Gary Locke would bundle over Jankasuskas inside the box and Paul Hartley made no mistake from the spot.

A memorable start to a truly memorable season…

 

1999 – St Johnstone 1-4 Hearts

Jim Jefferies’ side went goal crazy in Perth on the opening day of season 1999/00.

Looking to bounce back from a disappointing 98/99 campaign, they got off to a flier at McDiarmid Park through Gary McSwegan, who darted past Darren Dods on the half hour mark to fire home from inside the box.

Thomas Flogel doubled the lead on 67 minutes, playing a one-two with McSwegan before lashing beyond Alan Main from an angle.

Dodds would bundle home an own goal with 12 minutes remaining, before Colin Cameron completed the rout two minutes later, sending McSwegan’s pass high into the top corner.

There was a consolation effort for the home side, however, with John McQuillan sending a shot past Gilles Rousset from just outside of the box.

 

1998 – Hearts 2-1 Rangers

Fresh off the back of an historic Scottish Cup win, and having given a title a right good go in the process, Hearts fans began to wonder if they could go one step better in 1998/99 after this opening day win.

Having invested millions into their squad, Rangers – with new manager Dick Advocaat – rolled in to town, looking to avenge that Scottish Cup Final defeat from three months ago.

But just like May 16th, 1998, it didn’t go to plan.

With only six-minutes on the clock, Arthur Numan gave the ball away and allowed Stephane Adam to net from close range.

After 20 minutes it was 2-0 and Hearts were in dreamland. Jonas Thern was dispossessed by Adam who found Jim Hamilton, and the big striker took it into the box and swung a shot past Antti Niemi and into the far corner.

The visitors would half the deficit through Rod Wallace, ensuring a nervy hour but the Jambos stood firm and earned their victory in front of a packed Tynecastle crowd.

 

Watch all the goals on HeartsTV by clicking here.