Hibernian goalkeeper David Marshall feels the Edinburgh derby is as fervent as any local rivalry he has experienced – and benefits from a substantial allocation of away fans.
Hibs and Hearts both go into Saturday’s Easter Road meeting on the back of four consecutive Premiership defeats but tickets have sold out and there will be about 3,500 fans in the away end.
Former Celtic, Cardiff, Norwich and Derby player Marshall has an enviable track record of sampling some of British football’s most keenly-fought derbies.
And with the Glasgow equivalent now going ahead without any away supporters, Scotland’s capital clash has an added advantage.
“It just means as much,” Marshall said. “A derby, regardless of the club you are at and the size of the crowd, it just means as much to the fans as anything, whether it’s Swansea-Cardiff that I have played in or Celtic-Rangers game I have played in, or Hibs-Hearts.
“You get a feel for it. It’s such a big city, a capital city, and the two clubs are massive. You can feel that animosity.
“And the fact you get that big away crowd travelling as well adds to it. People have spoken about the Old Firm missing that but we still get that.”
The 38-year-old, who has suffered 3-0 defeats in his past two derbies, added: “It’s a huge occasion and a fantastic atmosphere. Unfortunately I have not experienced the good side of that so hopefully we can do that on Saturday.”
Derbies at Ibrox and Parkhead previously saw about 7,500 away fans attend but Rangers reduced the allocation to about 10 per cent and Celtic followed suit before both clubs opted not to take tickets for each other’s grounds for safety reasons.
Marshall will spend half of Saturday’s game being barracked by the fans in maroon but he would not have it any other way.
“As a player as well you live on that edge,” he said. “You take a bit of stick of course but I look back to the Martin Boyle late equaliser in the first game where I took stick for 45 minutes straight, until then.
“That’s football, that’s why the fans want to go there. Growing up as a fan, going and winning in your biggest rivals’ home stadium is probably one of the best things you can do.
“So it certainly adds to it having the away crowd.”
Hibs’ run has left them in danger of missing out on a top-six place and Marshall admits that would be unacceptable.
“Of course it is,” he said. “That goes without saying at a club like Hibs. At the very least they expect top six so we are under no illusions at the start of the season that that’s the bare minimum.
“We have put ourselves in a position where we have not guaranteed top six which we should have done before these two games.
“We are under no illusions that Saturday is a big one. We have prepared well and we are looking for a reaction to give our fans something to cheer about.”
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