Peter Hartley says he was taken aback by the Lanarkshire derby’s ferocity first time around- but the Motherwell captain now realises how important it is for the Well to sink Hamilton.
Hartley and his teammates are coming into this match off the back of a whirlwind season so far. They sit third heading into the home derby against 11th place Accies, a brilliant feat.
Victory over their Lanarkshire rivals would secure third spot over the winter break. European football is a real possibility for them but the Well camp are keeping their feet on the ground.
Hartley, however, is aware of how big a result Thursday’s dramatic 2-1 win over Ross County was for the fans. He’s taken time to praise the hardy 295 Motherwell souls who travelled up to Dingwall to take in a memorable afternoon.
“There’s no better feeling than scoring a late goal, it’s a moment you just get caught in,” said Hartley of the late victory in Dingwall. “At one point I thought it might not be our day but young Ross came on and scored a great goal.
“Declan then got the three points which I thought were thoroughly deserved. We’ve got a team full of confidence and we’ve worked really hard to get to where we are just now. But we need to take it a game at a time.
“When there’s no transport and you have that many fans, when there’s no trains or buses on… the fans made their own way there on Boxing Day in a more than three-hour journey.
“We showed our appreciation to the support they gave us. It was like a 12th man, I could only hear our fans singing and I’m just happy they all went home happy and the journey was worth it.”
All eyes are on Motherwell’s final game prior to the winter shutdown, a match with Accies. Hartley made his Lanarkshire derby debut back in 2017 and managed to net in it too.
Since then he’s kept up a pretty decent record, with three wins and two defeats from five games. Perhaps most impressively though, he has two goals and two assists from centre-back in these games.
They’re matches he looks forward to but Hartley says that initially, they took him by surprise: “We want to finish as high as we can and we know every game is going to be different. We’ve got Hamilton here and there will be a lot of fans, but if we stick to our gameplan, then I believe we’ll win.
“It’s the same every year, we always play Hamilton before the winter break. We’ve had a few positive results against them in recent times so we’ve got to make sure that we keep that going.
“I actually was surprised (by the derby’s fierceness). I played in a lot of derbies but when I came up one of my first games was away to Hamilton, and I actually scored.
“But I wasn’t expecting as many Motherwell fans there and they definitely came out in their numbers. We sent them home happy that day and hopefully we can again this time.”