APRIL PLAYER OF THE YEAR DINNER
Our Player of the Year was Steven Naismith and the Association was delighted to present Steven with our trophy.
We raffled off our sponsored players prizes and these were won by the following:
o Steven Naismith sponsored jersey – Bruce Inglis
o Steven McLean sponsored jersey – Mary Paterson
o Signed Top – Paul Smyth
o Marcus Godinho Poppy Jersey – Fred Chrystal
o Cammy Logan training kit – Ian Simpson
o Signed top – Ali Barrett
Congratulations to all our winners and thanks to all those who purchased tickets. Over £1000 was raised from the special jersey raffle and the normal dinner raffle.
Our guests were Michael Smith, Steven MacLean & Steven Naismith. We had our usual Q and A session.
Q1 – When you were growing up, which team did you dream of playing for?
• SN – Growing up he was a Rangers fan and that was the team he dreamed of playing for but when you start playing it changes and you want the best for the team you’re playing for.
• MS – He was a Man Utd fan growing up watching Beckham, Giggs and Keane. He still supports Man Utd (even though they’re rubbish now 😊) and he was glad City won last night as he hates Liverpool 😊.
• SM – Growing up it was a choice with his family playing for Hearts or Hibs and thankfully he chose Hearts. You move about as a player but growing up as a Hearts fan you always look out for their results. But first and foremost you always want the best for the team you’re playing for.
Q2 – To the Steven’s there’s been some unusual goal celebrations this season, can you tell us more about them?
• SN – It’s daft really the things he does, sometimes he does something his mates suggest and the next week it’s in the news what he did. His current celebration was a suggestion by his daughter who asked him to do it.
• SM – His dad has given him loads of stick over the years and it was the same coming to the game on Saturday and his dad said if you get on, score a goal. The celebration was a GIRUY to his dad and he’s done it several times. He feels that sometimes after scoring you just lose yourself due to the feeling.
Q3 – Michael Smith, you never played for Man Utd but what’s it like to sit between two super stars 😊?
• SM – One superstar 😊
• MS – They’re both great guys both on and off the pitch and it’s good to have them around the club. Naismith is a Scotland Legend and should be reaching 50 caps soon and he loves having them as team mates.
Q4 – Steven Naismith, what are the chances of you being fit for the final and will you be here next season?
• SN – I don’t want to give anyone false hope but I think there is more chance of me not playing. As you get older it gets harder to get over injuries and he doesn’t want to jeopardise three or four years of playing by rushing back to early.
• SN – Everything s going positive with him and the club, he loves it here, it’s positive with Ann Budge and the gaffer and it’s the most likely place where he’ll be playing football next season. It’s a great place, led by the fans who saved the club and plough in money each month to Ann Budge who runs the club really well. We now need to progress and hopefully win a trophy.
Q5 – Naismith – you’re known as king of the Derbies, can you tell us about it.
• SN – I first played in a Derby v Ayr Utd when I was 16 and came on as a sub. I played in several old firm derbies including scoring two goals in one. For Everton, I was coming back from injury and wasn’t doing great when Steve Pinaer got injured and scored in a 2-2 draw with Liverpool which got me some good favour with Everton fans. I never lost a derby with Norwich and of the three derbies for Hearts, we’ve won two and I scored in one.
Q6 – Steven – you like to “chat” with referees, do they respond?
• SN – It looks a lot worse than it actually is. There’s two types of refs, one of which will chat to you and explain decisions, the other one will just ignore you which just winds you up. It’s a really tough job and they get no help from anybody. I’ve played for three clubs in Scotland and at each one you always think that the referees are against you.
Q7 – Who’s the worst manager that you’ve ever played under?
• SM – Paul Mariner was his manager at Plymouth and they never really saw eye to eye and had a fair few arguments.
• MS – Paul Buckle signed him for Bristol Rovers and then never played him, this could have ruined him as a footballer but thankfully they were rubbish and Buckle got sacked and he started playing
• SN – None really, he felt when Coisty took over at Rangers, it was perhaps too much for him with everything that was going on in the background and he really struggled.
Q8 – Who was the best manager you played under?
• SM – Paul Sturrock at Sheffield Wednesday. As he was a former striker, he really opened my eyes and coached me and the other strikers to make us better players. Tommy Wright was also a very good manager, he was a great people person and although he might lose it and be angry he never held a grudge.
• MS – Darren Ferguson at Peterborough. It was a totally different philosophy from what I’d been used to in League 2 battling with 6ft 5 strikers to trying to play total football all the time.
• SN – Roberto Martinez, I’d been used to British managers and a lot of them had similar ideas but Roberto had completely different ideas and every day in training was great and you really looked forward to it.
Q9 – What is Duncan Ferguson’s role at Everton?
• SN – He was first the U18s coach and he was really good with them and is a brilliant guy. When Martinez came in he started to work with the first team and worked one to one with the strikers. He would be the centre half as he knew exactly what the strikers hated and could teach them. He was really reserved and was quite embarrassed about his past. I spoke to him a few times and he said that he never caused trouble on the pitch and I told him that I’d seen the highlights and he said that he never started it, just finished it
Q10 – To MS, have you spoken to Kyle Lafferty when you’re away with Northern Ireland since his move to Rangers
• MS – He’s some boy Kyle and he done great last year at Hearts and it was no surprise when he went back to Rangers as they are his club. He’s frustrated that he isn’t playing more so it’s good and bad.
Q11 – There’s a lot more booing at Tynecastle, does tis affect the players / team? Also what’s your favourite tackle on Scott Brown?
• SN – I love the battles with broony, we came through the ranks at about the same time and have had loads of battles. He’s like me in a way in that he winds up the opposition. Brown’s a great player to have in your team. After I got banned earlier in the season for the tackle, I met him at a golf day a few weeks later and there was no animosity, he’s decent guy.
• SN – The booing definitely has an effect although players may say it doesn’t. It’s frustrating though when one week you play great and then the next it looks like you’re not even trying. But that’s a sign of a new squad and you have inconsistent performances especially with lots of younger players in the team. When you hear the boos, players go into their shell and then take the easy option, the safe pass back rather than try and take a man on or make a hard pass. When the atmosphere is good, it’s amazing, at the derby a few weeks back, early on the atmosphere was electric and the players fed of it getting stuck in and buzzing about the park. Sometimes the booing isn’t directed at anyone, it’s just borne through frustration and he gets that as he’s been in the stand.
• SM – Players hear the boos and they will often take the easy option and play safe rather than take the chances. They need to know they can take a chance and make a mistake in the final third and the crowd won’t be on their back, especially youngsters.
Q12 – Messi or Ronaldo, who’s your favourite?
• SN - Ronaldo is the perfect footballer but Messi is the best and complete footballer
• MS – Loved watching Ronaldo at Man Utd but Messi, he’s the best ever and his manner on and off the pitch is brilliant.
• SN – Messi also.
Q13 – At this time of the season do you think it’s a good idea to give a youngster a chance or give several youngsters a game?
• SN – Young players need to earn the right to play in the first team. Better to have one on merit that give three or four a game just for the experience. Young players can be given too much too early and they need to learn that they’re now playing 1st team football and it’s a step up. Although we’ve got the cup final next month we’ve got 4 huge games before hand and we need to win them. No disrespect but when I came in last season there were about 6 youth players in the squad and at least 4 of them weren’t ready for it.
• MS – Need to earn it first, Harry played lots last season due to necessity and this year will feel like he’s going backwards because he had so much game time last season.
• SM – Echo the thoughts of the other two, if a young player comes in and has a bad experience, it can set them back months or years in their development. The younger players get involved at training and you can see some aren’t ready and need to develop and others are getting there.
Q14 – Michael, did you know much about Hearts when you signed?
• MS – Yes, coming from Northern Ireland, he was a Rangers fan and watched a lot of Scottish Football. He had a trial with Killie when Kenny Shiels was manager but it came to nothing. He knew Austin from the NI set up and he was one of the reasons he ended up at Hearts. He perhaps didn’t realise just how big Hearts were until he came and was shown round the club and training facilities.
Q15 – What’s Bobby Zamal like?
• SN – He’s a bit mad, often hangs about with Uche and him and Ben had a darts competition going on. But he’s also one of our experienced players and has played in lots of different places and he does things differently than what a lot of british players are used too.
Q16 – What’s your most memorable match?
• SN – I went from playing Peterhead in the league cup to three weeks later playing Barcelona at the Nou Camp and it was just surreal.
• MS – My international debut, all my family were there and I was playing alongside Aaron Hughes who I’d watched play for NI whilst growing up.
• SM – 2014 Scottish Cup Final where I scored a goal & the League one play off final at the millennium stadium, I came on as a sub and scored and we won 4-2.
Q17 – We were going great at the start of the season until injuries came and we’ve not been able to get back to that, what do you think are the reasons?
• SN – We would have been right in the mix come the end of the season if it wasn’t for all the injuries. Everything was working well and things we were trying were all coming off, however, we’d brought in 18 players in the summer and I think the start we had was false. We have reached a semi-final and a final and we need to now push on to the next level. Next season we need to ensure we win more games, grind out more results if we have to. There has been loads of progress this season.
Q18 – Rudi Skacel had a great strike with his left and right foot with almost every shot on target, how come it appears the players we have now are incapable of striking the ball on target?
• SN – Every player has different abilities and different strengths and weaknesses, Rudi was great at striking a ball, one of the best and I reckon well over half the players in the league couldn’t strike a ball like him. But there was things that Rudi couldn’t do and in a team it’s all about getting the right blend of players and getting the balance right.
Q19 – It’s disappointing that Hibs have now caught us in the league after we were so far ahead, can we catch them?
• SM – There’s no extra motivation needed for Sunday’s game than the chance to go level with them on points and we’ll be going down there determined to get the three points.
Q20 – What’s the best goals you’ve ever scored?
• SM – The Scottish Cup Final, I smashed into the goalie and then scored a goal
• MS – I don’t score many, when I played for Peterborough I took the ball on the chest and volleyed it and it hit of the underside of the bar and in.
• SN – I don’t score many great goals, my third against Chelsea to complete my hat-trick.
Q21 – We’ve had so many injuries this season and now Keena and Morrison are out, is it just bad luck?
• SN – Yes, it’s just unlucky, most of them have come in games and not training. Callum has been managing an injury for a while and it’s just got too much now. But when it comes to training on artificial surfaces, SN & SM are allowed to weigh up whether they should train on it or just do some different work that day.
Q22 – SM – Could you have signed for Hearts earlier than you did?
• SM – Yes, it was 2010 I think when Csaba was manager. I’d been on trial for a week and my agent called me and told me to get from my house in Peebles to Edinburgh as Hearts were wanting me to sign. I got about 5 miles up the road and my agent called again and said to turn back as Mr Romanov had gone AWOL. I ended up signing for Aberdeen.
At the end of the Q and A the Chair thanked the three players for coming along and answering our questions. It was definitely one of our best POTY Dinners.
Committee Member Lisa Paterson is temporarily leaving us to teach in China. Along with husband Dale and daughters Ellie and Emma she will leave for China at the end of July. We shall miss her for all sorts of reasons but especially for her efficient running of our dinner raffles. We wish them all well and look forward to seeing her on her return trips to UK.
In accordance with the vote taken at the AGM in January 2019, the Committee has donated £6000 to the Club, specifically for the Tynecastle Redevelopment Fund
For the coming season, the Association has sponsored the jersey of Aaron Hickey and intends to renew the sponsorship of the jersey of Stephen Naismith when he signs a new contract. The Committee will consider further player sponsorship should a suitable opportunity arise.
Our guest for the 29th August meeting is former player and manager Sandy Clark. Sandy has had a long career in football at the top level as a player, manager and working in the media and will prove to be an excellent guest.
In September we have the Hearts Management and Coaching staff.