Generations of Jambos believed that they’d never see Hearts win anything. Club captain in 1998 Gary Locke was hurting whether it be in the stands, supporting his teammates, or being on the park.
Despite being confident the team could end the drought, in an exclusive interview with NTOF, he couldn’t have foreseen the size and scale of his teammates’ achievement.
“It was something that I’d dreamt about all my life anyway. Not taking away the fact I was the captain of the club at the time, I was a huge fan as well. So for me that day, although I was really disappointed not to play in the game, it was massive for me as a supporter to see Hearts winning a trophy, Locke said.
“My feelings after the game, the elation of everything, was probably the same as every Hearts fan that was either at the game or watching on TV in the house.
“It was a brilliant achievement by the team, we hadn’t just beaten anybody. We’d beaten a top class Rangers team and then the celebrations after it, at the time, were fantastic.”
Modest as ever, Gary also paid credit to manager Jim Jefferies and his assistant Billy Brown for making the players feel as though they could end a 42 year drought for some silverware.
“That was the message that hit home every day. He (Jefferies) used to say ‘You want and you need to be the team that eventually wins this club a trophy. You are good enough, believe in yourself and you’ll be the team that does it’. He and Billy used to hammer that into us every day.
“The boys weren’t arrogant, weren’t cocky but we knew that we were good players. We knew that we were a good team and I think that was the most important thing.
“We weren’t a team of individuals, had one or two that were special, but we were genuinely a really good team and that showed that day when we won it.”
Hard lines many times
“We’d been to two or three cup finals in a close space of time. We’d got to the 96 Scottish and League Cup final and got beat in both of them.
“From 96, there was a big improvement in terms of how we played in the final, and we ran Rangers really close. If it hadn’t been for Paul Gascoigne, we probably would’ve won the League Cup that day. Because he was such a special player, five minutes of magic from him turned the game on its head.
“When we got to 98, we changed the game plan slightly. We weren’t negative but we went a wee bit more defensive.
“The manager and Billy (Brown) had a game plan, that if we sat in a bit, we had pace to hit Rangers on the counter attack whereas the two games previous to that we kind of went toe-to-toe with them. We felt we were just every bit as good as them.”
The drought was no more
“We got off to a brilliant start with Fulters (Stevie Fulton) getting brought down in the box and then Mickey slotted it (the penalty) away brilliantly. Then the game plan worked a treat because we were able to take the lead in the game and then sit in. We had McCann, Cameron, Adam who were all quick on the counter attack.
“Then Stephane Adam scored the second goal for us which was absolutely unbelievable and then to win that game, it was fantastic for us all. I’m not just saying it but it was the best squad of boys that I played with my whole career, we were all very close and obviously, we still are.
“To win that cup that day was absolutely brilliant.”
Hearts ended their drought and face Rangers’ bitter rivals Celtic in the Scottish Cup final on Saturday. The Jambos are looking to put to an end the thought of the Hoops completing a treble treble.