Don Cowie admits he didn’t know just how big the Edinburgh derby was until he played in one for the first time.
The midfielder has experienced three Hearts v Hibs games since joining the Jambos last year, and he’s revealed the players know exactly what’s at stake as the capital sides lock horns tonight, with a place in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals at stake.
Speaking to the media, Don said: “You enjoy playing in any game but it’s a special game. Before I joined the club it was just a case of watching it on TV and you think it’s a big game but until you’re actually playing in it and you’re in and around it, you don’t realise just how big it is.
“We had a fans thing on Sunday and it just reiterated how big it is. It means everything and we’re all aware of that.”
The 34-year-old is anticipating another tough encounter, after a bruising first tie ended 0-0. He’s confident that Hearts have the players to play football and make it through to the next round.
“There’s going to be a battle anyway, no matter what game you play.” He said. “The start is always a battle. That’s what you always talk about, try and win the battle then try and play a bit of football after that.
“We know the first 15/20 minutes is vital in order to then build on that and start to get the ball down and play a bit of football. I feel with the players we’ve got at this club, if we can do that then we’ll hurt them.”
Don knows it’s these types of games Hearts have to win in order to compete at the top of Scottish football, and wants the Jambos to prove that they can mix it up there with the best.
“It’s important for all of us (to get the victory),” he said. “At the end of the day a club our size needs to be challenging for trophies. That’s what we need to be doing.
“We need to be getting to semi-finals, finals, so the most important thing is that you win the game. Everyone knows you’ve then got a home tie coming up after that.
“There’s that extra motivation with it being against your rivals because of what it means to everyone in the city. We need to start challenging to win trophies. We want to be in Europe.
“This club is on the way up. It’s been through a transitional period, but with the training ground and the stadium, everything is geared for us to be successful and we need to do that on the pitch as well.”