Remember when Hearts spoiled Hibs’ cup parade at Easter Road back in 2007? Of course you do, but come and join us for a trip down memory lane anyway…
Season 2005/06 was always going to be a hard act to follow. A second-place finish in the league and a Scottish Cup in the bag, along with a shot at qualifying for the Champions League, meant there was a euphoric sense of anticipation in the Gorgie air as Hearts fans dared to dream of what might follow in 2006/07.
Fast-forward to April 1st, 2007 and things hadn’t quite gone to plan. A solid, if unspectacular, league campaign saw the Jambos sitting in fourth heading into the final seven games, nine points behind third-place Aberdeen and 27 points off Celtic at the top.
The European dream was ended firstly by AEK Athens and then by Sparta Prague, and there was to be no silverware repeat with Hibs and Dunfermline knocking the men in maroon out of the League Cup and Scottish Cup respectively.
Head coach Valdas Ivanauskas took a mid-season sabbatical, with sporting director Eduard Malofeev taking over the hotseat until the Lithuanian returned in late November. He was on the move again come February, moving ‘upstairs’ to the director of football role, with Anatoly Korobochka heading in the other direction.
Preparations for the trip across the city were hardly ideal, given Hearts were on the end of a 4-0 Tynecastle thrashing by Craig Levein’s Dundee United the previous week.
This derby match had added spice to it, given it was Hibs’ first league match since their League Cup triumph, where they defeated Kilmarnock 5-1 in the Final at Hampden. An Easter Road trophy parade was duly scheduled for full time…
Hibs: McNeil, Whittaker, Murphy, Hogg, Buezelin, Jones, Scott Brown, Zemamma, Fletcher, Benjelloun, Stevenson. Subs: Simon Brown, Sproule, Sowunmi, Stewart, Chisholm, McCann, Martis.
Hearts: Gordon, Karipidis, Goncalves, Zaliukas, Pilibaitis, Berra, Ivaskevicius, Aguiar, Velicka, Brellier, Driver. Subs: Banks, Jonsson, Pospisil, Fyssas, Armstrong, Mackle, Kelly.
The Jambos were first to threaten, with Christos Karipidis lashing a long-range effort over Andy McNeil’s crossbar.
Andy Driver then forced McNeil into a good save after taking down Karipidis’ long ball inside the box and thundering a left-foot shot on target that the Hibs ‘keeper beat away at his near post.
The home side then had a chance of their own when a hanging ball inside the Hearts box eventually fell to Scott Brown, but his half-volley was blocked by Craig Gordon.
Bruno Aguiar came to Hearts rescue when he popped up on the post to nod away Abdessalam Benjelloun’s header, though replays showed it was going wide anyway.
McNeil then had to save from his own teammate after David Murphy beat Andrius Velicka to a through ball, only to hammer it towards his own goal, forcing McNeil to tip it over the bar.
Into the second half, Guillaume Buezelin headed over from a set piece when it looked like his teammate Rob Jones was better placed to make contact, and chances were then few and far between.
That was until the deadlock was broken in the 81st minute, courtesy of future Cup-winning captain Marius Zaliukas. Driver’s set piece delivery into the Hibs box was feebly punched away by McNeil to the feet of the unmarked Zaliukas who, from ten-yards out, drilled a low ball through a clutch of bodies and into the back of the net.
Hibs went close to leveling proceedings when Buezelin’s drive from outside of the box flew past Gordon’s right-hand post, and the Hearts No.1 was then at his best to makes a smart stop from Ivan Sproule’s angled effort.
The 1-0 win extended Hearts lead over Hibs in the SPL to eight points, and closed the gap on Aberdeen to six.
The two sides would meet one more time, post-split, with Michal Pospisil and Driver goals handing Hearts a 2-0 home win.
Korobochka’s side would finish the season in impressive form, losing only two of their remaining six matches. However it was those losses, along with a 1-1 Tynecastle draw with Aberdeen, that allowed the Dons to finish the campaign in third, consigning Hearts to fourth.
John Collins’ Hibs secured a top six spot but could climb no higher than sixth, finishing six points behind fifth-placed Kilmarnock, 12 points behind Hearts and one point behind seventh-placed Falkirk, who were top of the bottom six.
The trophy parade eventually got underway that day, but not after the jubilant Hearts support had made the most of yet another Edinburgh derby victory, entering the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest time taken to exit a football stadium.