BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Mark Oxley insists the Edinburgh derby can compete with any rivalry British football has to offer – after revealing even the Hibs players are struggling to get their hands on extra tickets.
Sunday’s clash at Tynecastle has been sold-out for weeks as punters eagerly anticipate the only meeting between the sides this season.
Oxley’s mum and dad will be in attendance, however some of his teammates have seen requests for additional briefs knocked back, such is the demand for the tie of the round in the Scottish Cup last-16.
And Oxley reckons it is just another example of how much the fixture means to the capital after lapping up the four encounters between the sides last season.
He lauded: “I think this derby is as big as any across the country, maybe even England. It’s a capital city and a massive fixture.
“We’ve been looking forward to this for a while. A few of the lads have been trying to get extra tickets and can’t get them!
“As soon as the draw was made the lads were buzzing, this is something we have probably missed with Hearts going up last year. We want to take the opportunity with both hands.
“Last year I realised what this game meant to people. Obviously I was aware it is a derby, but you see what a massive thing it is for the city. Edinburgh lives and breathes football.
“When I played in the games last year you could see what it means to the fans. In town you get the heckles from the Hearts fans and chat with Hibs fans. But that is why I signed for a club in Scotland – the fans love it.”
The Hibees are chasing Gorgie glory for the second time in eight days after defeating St Johnstone 2-1 in the League Cup semi-final at Tynecastle last Saturday.
While that clash saw three sides of the stadium packed with Hibs fans, Oxley can expect a more hostile welcome at the compact home of their city rivals this time.
He smiled: “I like the fans being so close to the fans honest, it’s part and parcel of football.
“At some of the new grounds these days you are miles away from the fans and it’s not the same atmosphere and, with it being a derby, there will be that extra spice.
“You hear everything but it doesn’t bother me! You’ve got to enjoy that and embrace it. You get the usual shouts every week – ‘ginger’ and all that! But you take it with a pinch of salt.
“Hendo [Liam Henderson] nearly got a bovril thrown over him last week! No, it was great last week, the fans turned out in their numbers and were right behind us.
“Luckily we have put ourselves in the position where every match is a big one, not only the cup games but in the league. We need to thrive on that.”
Meanwhile, Alan Stubbs reckons 17,000 will sound like 60,000 at Tynecastle when the Edinburgh derby sweeps back into town tomorrow.
And the Hibs head coach, who believes Hearts are slight favourites for the contest, is adamant the interest surrounding the tie illustrates how much Scottish football has missed the fixture this term.
He added: “Whenever you see a major broadcaster wanting the game, whether it be Sky or BT, that tells you there is a clamour for it nationwide, not just across Scotland.
“I have had a few people [in England] comment on how good our games have been against Rangers. They have said they enjoyed them more than some Premier League games. They have a bit of everything.
“The football is good, there is blood and thunder, there’s some old fashioned challenges flying in, there’s a great atmosphere – and there will be all that Sunday at Tynecastle.
“I know good an atmosphere it can be there. As a player that is what it is all about. Sometimes 17,000, as it will be on Sunday, can generate as much noise as 60,000.”