There are many key components to a successful football team. A tactical awareness, footballing ability of course. But none more important to Hearts in 1998 than a great team spirit. A team spirit which ultimately provided Scottish Cup glory.
Variety of characters and activities
Gary Locke, the club’s captain at that stage couldn’t speak highly enough of his fellow teammates.
“Team spirit was unbelievable. I felt my job as captain was to try and get the boys together whenever I could,” he said.
“Obviously you’re together every day when you’re training but when you’re away from the training pitch, you’re doing other things that people don’t see it’s fantastic because you can kind of let yourself go a wee bit.
“We did like our nights out, we did have a laugh but we’d go for meals together, we’d go go-karting, clay pigeon shooting, all that type of stuff which I felt was really important to try and get away or relax.
“One thing was, if I organised something like that, was that every single player turned up. It wasn’t half the team would go, half wouldn’t, the whole team was there..
“The dressing room every day was chaos, there was always something happening, always something funny happened. But when it came down to being serious, you’ll never get a more dedicated, a more serious squad of players. I think over the course of that season we showed that.”
An easy team to coach?
Jim Jefferies’ job was made a heck of a lot easier with a group in such great harmony. He was quick to praise his former players.
“Team spirit was just excellent. That’s one of the major ingredients of a good team,” Jefferies told NTOF.
“Everybody pushing each other, everybody having the same aim. What we did in that week was we just explained to the boys, after having a chat to them, about having a chance.
“What we would do was train Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Morning would be without the ball, afternoon sessions would be with the ball.
Everything went to plan, we came up with two days where we did virtually nothing. Conserved our energy after a long, hard season, we just met the press on the Thursday.
“Had a little kick about and a team talk on the Friday and then moved away to stay overnight. The preparation was fantastic. When you’ve got all the preparation right and you know you’ve got a great team spirit, we were well in with a chance of winning that game and it proved right.”