GARY Caldwell was never in danger of being afforded a warm welcome at Tynecastle Park tonight which is absolutely fine with him.

Just so long that he’s literally not in any real danger. These days, for managers and players, this appears too much to ask and certain grounds.

Caldwell would get all sorts of abuse thrown at him when as a player with Hibernian and Celtic he would walk onto that pitch away down in Gorgie. That was fine. He relished his visits to the home of Hearts even if it was far from a happy hunting ground for him.

But as we all know, lines have been crossed in recent weeks.

Partick Thistle manager Caldwell had at least one coin thrown at him by a moron among the Hearts support last Monday during the Scottish Cup quarter-final at Firhill that ended 1-0, which is why both teams get to play one another again this evening.


READ MORE: Aidan Fitzpatrick benefitting from old hand Scott McDonald at Partick Thistle

Asked if he feared being the target of some brainless yobbo, Caldwell’s answer was a definite no. He’s probably right. But the question was a legitimate one.

Caldwell said: “We hope that the fans come to support their team and there can be a bit of banter but once it crosses the line and becomes physical, that’s when it’s wrong.

“So I would fully expect the fans to have their chants and they can sing their songs about me – although I’d just like to point out that Brian Kerr, my assistant, played for Hibs as well so they can put some towards him too.

“To have fans running willy-nilly on to the pitch and swinging punches at people is pathetic. We have to get it out there that this isn’t just a Scottish thing – yes, we have elements up here that we’re not happy with and we need to change for the good of our game.


READ MORE: Billy Mckay confident team-mates can seal Championship title

“But this is happening all over Britain at the moment and it has to stop. We want the crowd to be passionate and supportive but they need to stay in the stands and not spill on to the pitch.”

Caldwell didn’t always enjoy Tynecastle as a player, so it would be a nice change for him if his side could win.

And what a win it would be if Partick Thistle, second bottom of the Championship, could defeat Hearts and get to a Scottish Cup semi-final, which would be against fellow second tier club Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

A last-minute win on Saturday against Dundee United has given a resurgent Thistle a bit more belief as they head for a game which in something of a free hit.

Caldwell said: “In different matches at Tynecastle I broke my ribs, punctured my lung and I was sent off so I don’t have great memories of it, although I always looked forward to going there because of the atmosphere.

“Obviously, because I played for Hibs and Celtic these were always big games and their support has always been very vocal. They get behind their team and it’s important that we’re ready for it.

“The initial period – the first 25-30 minutes – they’ll throw everything at us and we have to be prepared for that.

“They’re a physical side that put you under pressure and make you defend and we have to stand up to that challenge which I thought we did the first game extremely well for the first 30 minutes where I felt we could’ve passed the ball better.

“In terms of defending and dealing with their physicality they only had three shots on target the whole night and that shows how well we defended and we’ll have to do the same again.”