Si Ferry: Celtic vs Hearts is a game close to my heart, but it has little to do with being on the pitch.


Tomorrow, in the Scottish Cup Final, what a weekend for Scottish soccer as Celtic take on Hearts at Hampden. The atmosphere at the national stadium should be greater than normal when there are no fans in the stadium.

It’s not just the environment, but also the pitch that has been criticized. It was bumpy, patchy and dry at times, and during the major events, it lacked volume. Fortunately, since Andy Halliday’s hair is going to be remedied on this occasion, it can relax a little.

Not only do I feel sorry for the pitch, but also for the Hampden floodlights, which will be dwarfed by Lee McCulloch’s new teeth for 90 minutes. I assume Big Jig’s latest biters are any direct adversary he’s kicked in his own teeth over the course of his career, a kick in the nuts.

I’ve got a lot of time for Andy and Lee, in all seriousness, and they’re two of the good guys in soccer who can joke at their expense. I’m pleased that Lee is back at a major club and it’s such a good fit. He won’t be faced with the burden of being at a big club, because every day he brings something big with him, which earned him the nickname Jig. I like to talk to the big man about soccer and I know he’s a fantastic coach with good ideas and he’s so passionate about helping players grow – and about soccer in general.

With quiet trust, Hearts as a squad will head through tomorrow with staff and players who have been through big games and circumstances throughout their careers. On major occasions for Rangers and Everton, Stevie Naismith has been on the pitch. Liam Boyce has featured for Northern Ireland in big tournaments.

As David Marshall remembers, Craig Halkett was able to snatch a half ticket under the beady eyes of Gary Holt’s sternest bus driver and Craig Gordon, managed a 147 on the snooker table on the PlayStation while housemate Marsh sat there hoping for a concentration lapse to even get a chance between the balls.

Under Robbie Neilson, who I believe is a really good coach, Hearts will be well coached and will go into the game with a strategy to beat Celtic. I think Celtic will have plenty, however, as it seems that the feel-good element is back and there is no question that a large part of that is due to David Turnbull and Ismaila Soro’s emergence. With their style of play, both are infectious and have made a big difference on on and off the ball.

These two have shown that a willingness to run both on and off the ball goes a long way towards positive results and outcomes at a time when everyone is concerned with blaming managers and tactics.

A version of “Sunshine On Leith” should be played on Gavin Strachan’s laptop, as his father and uncle composed and signed the hit single, should Celtic win the cup.

Without anyone ever knowing it, this game played a minor part in my bang-average career. When me and Mikey McGlinchey were the 19th and 20th men on £ 250 a week but £ 600 a win, my first encounter was at the Tynecastle stands.

I’ve never been so desperate to win soccer matches for Celtic before. Down 2-1, with two minutes to go, we’re able to balance 2-2. I managed to make my way to the lounge of the Hearts players, and while Celtic is in the lead, I am beginning to spend £ 600 in my head by upgrading my boxers for the following Christmas Eve from Firetrap to Pierre Cardin.

The ball lands in the court of Stephen Pearson…. At that moment, I think of my family’s disappointed faces unwrapping the cheap presents I managed to scrounge up because of the errant actions of Pearo. He manages to not only power the ball through the gift of Heaven, but also bring it in the box with a left-footed shot.

Stephen McManus then tries to handle the ball and it goes somewhere and lands in the back of the Hearts net with Big Mick’s normal first touch! At the mere thought of being able to afford a Slazenger polo shirt to go with the Adidas Sambas I bought my old man a week before Christmas, I go crazy and jump up and down in the Tynecastle players’ lounge.

Then, a year later, I was on the bench at Tyncastle for Celtic, where I’m sure the kit supplier had to put my Sloggi underpants in a double shift to clean while I sat on the bench for 90 minutes******* waiting to be chewed on by an angry Gordon Strachan at


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