First Team

Stevo: My greatest day

6th May 2014

Sunday's hat-trick hero explains his joy at putting Killie to the sword, and praises team's progress.

Hat-trick hero Ryan Stevenson hailed one of the best days of his career as he reflected on his sensational display in Sunday's 5-0 anhiliation of Kilmarnock at Tynecastle.

The Jambos fan favourite netted a first-half treble, before turning provider to Billy King and Callum Paterson as the Jambos turned on the style in the season's biggest win in front of a bumper crowd in Gorgie.

After the match, Stevo revealed the motivation from his past that added a little bit extra to what was already a wonderful day for him, personally.

"That probably ranks as one of my best moments for a couple of reasons," he explained. "Being an Ayr United supporter, I've had to take a lot of stick from the Kilmarnock fans over the years!"

"Getting one felt great, but it was even better to get three. I also hadn't scored at Tynecastle this year so that was in the back of my mind as I didn't want to go a whole season without scoring here, so it was a nice day for me personally and a great team performance."

One of the more baffling statistics of recent years was Kilmarnock's complete dominance of Tynecastle, with the Ayrshire men winning their previous six visits to Gorgie, including a 4-0 success on Boxing Day. Stevo revealed Gary Locke had urged the team to try and get rid of that unwanted record as a measure of the progress made in the side.

"We've had a poor record against Kilmarnock since I've been here", said Ryan. "They turned us over the three previous times we played them this season, and as long as I've been here they've been sort of a bogey team for us.

"So the manager said before the game it was a gauge to see if we had moved forward as a team. He felt it would show if we had grown as a group if we could go out and beat them. And the boys have put in a massive performance.

"We want to finish as strongly as we can and finish at least within 15 points of someone, or all of them."

Finally, the Jambos no.7 dismissed any notion that Hearts were only starting to play more freely now that relegation has finally been confirmed, with the boys in maroon topping the SPFL Premiership form table, and indeed would have been in 8th place minus the summer's 15 point deduction.

Ryan explained that when you have to play in front of a huge expectant crowd, there is never an occasion where Hearts can play without pressure.

"A lot of people will look at it and say the boys are playing more freely now the pressure's off. But there are still 14,000 fans coming every week who have had a long, hard season.

"So there's that pressure, we want to try and play well and put a performance in for them. And I truly believe that we have grown as a squad. We have learned through the Christmas period and the tough times we had. We've come through it and hopefully we can take that on to next season."