What a difference a week makes. Mental note to self: after not having blogged for many blue moons, avoid doing so when you're still getting over a rather sore defeat in a cup tournament. The path trodden by Jambos is a turbulent and frustrating one, that's for sure, but this week we might have something to smile about.
While performances still leave a little (or a lot) to be desired, there's clearly a slightly more tenacious and confident mood setting in at Tynecastle. Early season results were shocking but going by conversations with friends, the main bug bear seemed not to be the fact we were leaking points all over the place, it was the fact that the players were surrendering so meekly in the face of what can only be described as equally rotten opposition. Fast forward a few months and we might not yet be confident enough to think that we're in with a chance of pushing for Europa, but there's a quietly hopeful belief that we might at the very least give Utd and Hibs a bit of a run for their money. But don't say it out loud, not just yet....
So there we were, ravaged by injuries and still taking in the consequences of 'that' brawl in Hamilton - so we turn to the youngsters. Craig Thomson had already come in and impressed, but others had failed to make quite the same initial impact. Smith, Robinson and the much hyped Templeton had their chances and seemed more than a little daunted by the challenges of the SPL. And then, of course, we had Aberdeen. The less said about that little outing the better.
However, recent league fixtures tell rather a different story. Gordon Smith had a dream start with a goal against Hibs at the start of January but since then hasn't quite managed the same level of impact as Scott 'rocket man' Robinson, who despite not having scored has nevertheless cemented his place in the hearts of the support with some energetic performances. The high hopes we all have for Templeton meant that his introduction to the first team was only ever going to come burdened with a huge bag of expectation and while we might have had cause for slight disappointment a few weeks ago, there's no doubting that he's gradually building in confidence and beginning to find his feet. Hearts scoring is always a good thing, but I particularly cannot wait until the goals come for Temps. I think it could be the start of something rather wonderful.
The ups and downs of the last few years have left jaded pockets of frustration in the Hearts support and it would be true to say that from time to time, we're perhaps not quite as patient as we should be. Under-performing or out of form players tend to get it in the neck - some deservedly but some less so. These youngsters need our support and it's great to see that support is exactly what they're getting, and then some. Andy Driver was the last player I can remember to have the whole stadium leaping to their feet as he swept down the pitch but it happened last weekend and the feeling was immense. The fans are willing these kids on - they might not be firing in the goals just yet but their workrate and enthusiasm is something this squad has been missing lately. Let's hope it gives the older and more 'experienced' first team regulars some food for thought.