SEAN CLARE has revealed that Hearts have gained a new celebrity fan after his Great British Bake-Off buddy savoured his first taste of Tynecastle.
Clare, 22, is close pals with Liam Charles, who was a contestant on the 2017 edition of the smash-hit show, with the pair both hailing from the London borough of Hackney and attending school together.
Charles went on to reach the final five and, having won the nation’s heart with his cheeky-chappy charm, has gone on to release several books and host TV shows Liam Bakes and Bake Off: The Professionals.
He has remained tight with Clare throughout his rise to fame and took in a game in Edinburgh earlier this season. The fact Hearts won proved to be the icing on the cake.
Clare said: “It was weird because, as everyone has seen on TV, he is a very lovable guy and has always been into dance and art. But out of nowhere, I came back from playing at the Nike Academy and he said ‘oh, I’ve started baking now’.
“He gave me one of his cakes and I thought ‘I don’t mind this!’
“He applied the previous year and didn’t quite make it and I just said to him ‘try again’ and thankfully he got in. We all knew he would do well because he is such a likable character and a good baker.
“It has just taken off from there with TV shows and books. I’m really happy for him. He’s professional when he needs to be and a clown when he needs to be.
“He’s already been up to see a game with a couple of friends and he really enjoyed it. I think we won that day but I didn’t play. He has been asking me when he can come back up.
“That’s down to him – I’ve got a free house, and if he wants to bake for me I don’t mind that!
There is certainly no shortage of games for Charles to consider making the journey for, with Hearts in the midst of a mouth-watering run-in.
The Jambos face Hibs at Easter Road on Sunday in a derby clash that former Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Clare reckons blows the Steel City affair out of the water.
He continued: “When I came up here, I thought that [playing in a Sheffield derby] would give me scope to compare it to the Edinburgh derby, I expected similarities.
“But I have to say, the one up here is more intense – the football means so much to the fans and everyone in the city.
“I’m not saying they don’t have that passion in Sheffield, but I’m maybe feeling it more up here because I’m playing a bigger part in the games – this is definitely another level for me.”
Hearts travel to Leith seeking to arrest a Premiership malaise that has seen them suffer four defeats in their last five outings. Saturday’s 3-1 home defeat against Rangers was a particularly miserable display.
However, Clare, who missed out on the clash against the Gers due to a virus which he has since recovered from, insists derby day affords the perfect chance to make amends, particularly given the Hibees’ recent 2-1 win at Tynecastle.
And he is adamant Hearts will not fear their city rivals – still unbeaten in the league under Paul Heckingbottom – after winning at Easter Road in December.
He added: “We have been to their back garden already this season and turned them over. Even at Tynecastle in the last game, we had chances to put that match to bed and I think we lost it rather than Hibs winning it. So I don’t see why we can get another win there.”
League matters are the immediate priority for Hearts but Clare, speaking at ‘An Evening With . . . ’ in Tynecastle’s Gorgie Suite, acknowledges that the Scottish Cup final looms large.
And Clare has been left in no doubt about what it would mean to defeat Celtic on May 25, courtesy of pep-talks from club ambassador Gary Locke, who tasted glory as a player in 1998 and as part of Paulo Sergio’s coaching staff when they last won the trophy against Hibs in 2012.
He added: “We all know about the last time Hearts won the Scottish Cup in 2012, there are loads of pictures in the changing rooms and in the museum.
“It’s something we would love to replicate and will give our all to do.
“Guys like Lockey [Gary Locke] have told us about the amazing support that comes out on the street if Hearts do win the cup and that’s just another incentive for us – we are here to win trophies and we’ll be at it on the day.”