How Hearts could be poised to break Old Firm dominance

For many years, the Scottish top flight has been won by one of two teams. When it wasn’t been the mighty Celtic sweeping all aside, it was their Glasgow rivals Rangers.

Do other sides get a look in?

The last time anyone outside the Old Firm lifted the title, it was 1985. That team was Aberdeen, led by Alex Ferguson long before the Queen bestowed him with a knighthood. Celtic, rather predictably, were second but Rangers languished 21 points behind the winners.

Dundee United were also a side capable of breaking the dominance, lifting the trophy in 1983 in their one and only success.

Honestly? Money placed on the Scottish Premier is usually wasted if it isn’t on one of the Old Firm and, ever since Rangers ran into trouble, it’s been wasted on anyone other than Celtic.

Is all of that about to change?

Celtic haven’t started this season well at all. They’re currently second, admittedly, but five points behind early leaders Heart of Midlothian. Hearts haven’t lifted the title since 1960, but they’ve set the early pace despite finishing sixth last season.

Rangers take on Hearts – By Alex Chapman – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Usually in betting on big events, 25/1 isn’t a price you’d give to the current leader, but that is exactly the price Mr Green are currently offering on Hearts to remain top through until the end of May.

History might tell us they can’t do it, common sense might have the same message, but eventually, someone else is going to win the Scottish Premier League and when they do, there’s going to be a lot of happy punters.

Hearts are showing promise

Craig Levein’s side have won nine of their opening ten matches in the division, including their clash with Celtic. They’ve borrowed Steven Naismith from Norwich City and he’s on fire, scoring goals for fun. They’ve also found big Uche Ikpeazu up front, who has weighed in with goals.

At the back, Christophe Berra’s Championship experience seems to have prepared him well for the Scottish Premier League. They’ve also loaned Demetri Mitchell from Manchester United, proving their status isn’t a fleuk. At the back, 21-year old John Souttar gets better and better too. He’s a huge prospect and has sported the national team kit since the Under 17s.

Boxing Day 2006 ~ Hearts 3 - Hibernian 2
“Boxing Day 2006 ~ Hearts 3 – Hibernian 2” by Justin Brockie (CC BY 2.0)

But there are other contributing factors

So, with all this promise, why are they still 25/1, even behind Steven Gerrard’s Rangers who finished third last season? The odds and the beliefs of the average pundits are suggesting that the Jambo’s can’t keep up the pace and it’s true that both Old Firm sides are also in Europe, while Hearts have plenty of rest and are solely focused on the league.

But what if they can keep it up? What if their blend of players with high-level English experience and young bucks looking to make a name do have the staying power?

What if Heart of Midlothian are about to end a 33-year Glasgow domination of the Scottish top flight? There could be a real shock on the cards in Scottish football this season.

C Adey

Owner of Scottish Football Forums. A fan of all forms of football, whether its being at the game, watching on TV, playing 7 a side, playing FIFA, playing Football Manager, or simply talking about it