MARVIN BARTLEY insists he is ready to laugh off the Hearts fans’ boos – as long as the abuse does not ‘cross the line’.
The Livingston midfielder fully expects his previous four years as a Hibernian hero to ensure he is public enemy number one for the home support at Tynecastle on Wednesday evening.
The 33-year-old will be happy to shrug off his role as pantomime baddie, especially if Livingston end up departing with all three points.
On his last trip to Gorgie with Hibs back in April, however, Bartley was subjected to alleged racist abuse and he felt compelled to urge action to root out ‘these small-minded, ignorant people’.
But the former Bournemouth and Burnley player has defended 99 per cent of Jambos and is hopeful the true Hearts fans will ensure the catcalls are good natured.
He said: “It will be interesting going back to Tynecastle. I certainly don’t expect too many cheers!
“I’ve dealt with that since I came up to Scotland and I take it in my stride. Most of it is tongue-in-cheek stuff and in good spirit, whether it’s in the stadium or out on the streets or on social media.
“A good 99 per cent of it is absolutely fine and I can deal with it.
“The one per cent you do get is when people cross the line and whatever else.
“But I don’t really class them as Hearts supporters or associate them with the football club because it would be very, very wrong to allow the minority to overrrule the majority.
“You get a few idiots but they can be anywhere, in any stadium.
“When I’ve played against them before it’s been in derbies so some people have probably been going to that one game that season.
“I very much want people to know that I don’t allow that one per cent to make me think that’s the Hearts way. I don’t associate them with the team or class them as Hearts supporters.
“I look forward to going back there and hopefully I can leave with a few more boos because we’ve taken three points.
“That would be the perfect Wednesday for me.”
What would elevate the 90 minutes to fantasy land for Bartley would be a rare goal.
The defensive midfielder failed to score in over 100 matches for Hibs and last found the net in November 2014 for Leyton Orient.
But he has been getting ever closer with Livi this season and even hit the bar in the recent defeat to Kilmarnock.
He added: “I haven’t been that far up the pitch for a long time but I’ve had what some people would say are some close scares.
“I’m getting a bit closer and I’m due one; it’s been an awfully long time.
“What better time to do it than in the next game? That’s not because it’s Hearts, it’s just because it’s the next game and I want to win it… no, it really is because it’s Hearts!”