Twenty one years ago, Hearts took on a Rangers team in the 1998 Scottish Cup final as underdogs through in Glasgow. Fitting therefore that should you fast forward to the present day, they head back through west to compete for the Scottish Cup again.

This time to face the other half of the Old Firm in the end of season finale once more. But how do 1998 manager and captain, Jim Jefferies and Gary Locke, think the Jambos will get on? Particularly as underdogs against a Celtic side chasing a historic treble treble.

The gaffer’s thoughts

Masterminding the men in maroon’s first cup win since 1956, which coincidentally came against Celtic, was Jim Jefferies.

“It’ll always be a tough game when you play Celtic or Rangers, you know, they’re used to playing in a lot of cup finals,” the former Hearts manager exclusively told NTOF.

Jim Jefferies and assistant Billy Brown would later take over at Bradford City, a Premier League outfit back then. Mandatory Credit: Ben Radford/ALLSPORT

“It’ll be tough but I think Celtic aren’t as strong a side as what they have been in the past so teams like Hibs, Hearts and Aberdeen will never have a better chance to perform in the league because I don’t think Celtic and Rangers are as strong as they used to be.”

The skipper’s thoughts

“We’ve got a chance. If the team that started the season turns up, and all our big players perform to their potential, then there isn’t any reason why we can’t do it,” claimed now club ambassador Gary Locke.

“I see a lot of similarities with this team to the one I was involved with in 1998. Rangers were the favourites and we went through to Parkhead that day with a game plan and it worked a treat.

Gary Locke has been a player, captain, coach and temporary manager at his boyhood heroes. Mandatory Credit: Stu Forster/Allsport

“So hopefully the current backroom staff, knowing them as I do, will have us well organised. And if we can go through and start well, get a goal to put us in front then I’m more than confident that we’ll do the business.”

Can Hearts thrive as underdogs again?

Ironic that in 1998 Hearts ended their Scottish Cup drought since defeating Celtic way back in 1956. Jefferies and Locke are both boyhood Jambos and know exactly what it would mean to the maroon half of Edinburgh if Hearts were to win their ninth Scottish Cup.

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