BY ALAN TEMPLE – Capital City Press
Robbie Neilson has urged his players not to let flag day fall flat following a poignant visit from Hearts icon Freddie Glidden.
There will be a party atmosphere at Tynecastle on Sunday as the Jambos toast their return to the top flight against St Johnstone.
Glidden, 87, will be on hand to unfurl the Championship flag prior to kick-off in the televised clash, however Neilson is confident the festivities will not become a distraction.
He knows the only way his players will be able to enjoy a special day for the club is by defeating the Saints.
He continued: “We need to make sure we get all three points on Sunday. If we do, then we will enjoy our day. If we don’t, it’ll fall flat.
“It is a great occasion for the fans and for the club to receive the flag, but for the players you only enjoy your day if you win the match.
“With the guard of honours [last season], you give the opposition a motivation to have a go at you because they are forced to parade you onto the pitch.
“Flag day is something a bit different. Everyone lines up, the flag is unfurled and you get on with the game so I don’t think it will be a similar issue and I think our players will be ready to just concentrate on the game.”
As well as leading the celebrations in Gorgie tomorrow, Glidden was a special guest at the club’s Riccarton training base yesterday to present the league flag to Neilson and young striker Gary Oliver.
And, even as he plans for the future, Neilson admits it was an honour to get a visit from a legend of the past.
Former Hearts skipper Glidden made 229 appearances in 11 years, winning the Scottish Cup, the League Cup and a top flight title.
Neilson said: “It was great to see Freddie and he is someone who is about the club quite a bit and is always welcome.
“He is a hero to the club and was the captain of the side which won the league in 1958. It is wonderful that we have that sort of history and it was really nice to have him here.
“Freddie is part of this club and a massive part of our history. We are very family orientated and any players who have played for Hearts and done well will always be welcome.
“We had a few legends at the recent Everton game and it was great to see them – they are well respected by our current players and the fans.”
Neilson confirmed that he expects Gavin Reilly, Prince Buaben and Blazej Augustyn, who were not part of the match-day squad against Arbroath on Thursday, to be in contention to face the Saints.