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Chick Young's view

Fir Park looks worse for wear
The Fir Park pitch could have a major part to play

Chick Young
By Chick Young
BBC Scotland football correspondent

Two semi finals, two selections of community singing. At Fir Park, I hope they have the decency to lead with "We Plough the Fields and Scatter".

Hearts and St Mirren go at it in the first semi-final of the Co-operative Insurance Cup on a surface more suited to a tractor derby. Why not just take the whole affair to Ingliston, home of the Royal Highland Showground?

Here's something you maybe don't know. Motherwell will make more out of the semi-finals of this competition than those aforementioned four clubs, who simply quarter the loose change from the aggregate takings - but only after costs and 20% of the gate to Hamdpen and Motherwell.

That is how much their ground rent is worth.

So shouldn't it be up to scratch? You wouldn't pay luxury cruise rates for a wee sail on the Waverley, much as I adore the old girl.

Actually, the Fir Park pitch looks like it has been ploughed by a paddle steamer, ruined in truth by the snows and frost and an undersoil system that doesn't seem to know if it is meant to be deep frying Mars Bars or gently warming snowdrops.

Still, never mind the horticulture. Get on with the game.

It's interesting now, all right, with the now dear departed Csaba Laslo not granted the opportunity to guide Hearts through to his first national final.

Former Hearts manager Csaba Laszlo
Csaba Laszlo was sacked as Hearts manager on Friday

Actually, I was totally unmoved when I heard that Vladimir Romanov's longest-serving manager had fallen. The man has been dodging bullets for months.

Heart of Midlothian have been organised, frustratingly hard to play against and stubborn under Csaba. But it was always going to be a photo finish. Would his reign be longer than one of his interviews?

His crime, I suspect, was to bare his soul and his anguish in public, to complain about the board's refusal to supply the funds to buy a striker and yet purchase Darren Barr on a pre-contract agreement.

And suddenly, in the wake of another Bloody Friday at Tynecastle, the club's fans are pining even more for a Hampden appearance. Their fevered brows need soothed.

It always seems to be Friday. Was it not on the eve of the weekend that the holy trinity of Stephen Pressley, Paul Hartley and Craig Gordon stood up - actually sat down at a morning press conference - and were counted?

They do things in a curious way at that club. Let him flow merrily on in his morning press conference before an afternoon meeting in which Sergei Fedatovas announces in Mafia fashion that his time had come.

So all the best Csaba. I'll bet you have a tale to tell.

Meanwhile, back at the football, one goal might do it in this tie because St Mirren are hardly the Billy the Kid of the Scottish Premier League. Goals are collectors' items in Paisley.


Like Hearts, they are organised in two banks of four in front of a goalkeeper who knows his business and behind strikers who only occasionally strike gold.

But, for me, the departure effervescent Laszlo has pushed this semi-final into primetime viewing ahead of events at Hampden 24 hours later.

Forgive me disciples of the Saints of Perth and Paisley, but Rangers are now realistically the only club who can win the Treble.

And so it will take a mighty effort from St Johnstone to haul Walter Smith's side off that road on Wednesday night.

Derek McInnes and his team will survive in the SPL this season, I have little doubt about that. But this, I suspect is, not their moment in the sun. Nor the Hampden floodlights for that matter.

This is now a tournament about Heart of Midlothian and the ground staff at Fir Park, but they will need to dig deep for victory.

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see also
Jefferies returns as Hearts boss
29 Jan 10 |  Hearts
Fir Park and Hampden host semis
10 Nov 09 |  Scottish Cups
Gers and Hearts apart after draw
09 Nov 09 |  Scottish Cups
Celtic 0-1 Hearts
28 Oct 09 |  Scottish Cups
Dundee 1-3 Rangers
27 Oct 09 |  Scottish Cups
St Johnstone 2-1 Dundee United
27 Oct 09 |  Scottish Cups
St Mirren 3-0 Motherwell
27 Oct 09 |  Scottish Cups

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