Andy Halliday reveals he is related to Foundation of Hearts director who was overjoyed at new signing
Midfielder says he is happy to play anywhere for Neilson
Andy Halliday is willing to play anywhere for Hearts after witnessing the joy his arrival brought to one family member – Foundation of Hearts director, Garry.
The former Rangers midfielder signed a two-year deal at Tynecastle Park on Monday before revealing his close connection to the fans’ group.
Garry Halliday, a founding member of FoH, is the cousin of Andy’s father and spent considerable time in recent weeks trying to sway the player towards Gorgie.
With the deal done, Halliday stated he will give 100 per cent for his new club either in midfield or at left-back. He explained his satisfaction at making Garry happy.
“He’s certainly been bending my dad’s ear quite a bit. He is my dad’s cousin,” Andy told Hearts TV. “It’s well-documented what team I support and my family supports but Garry is Hearts-mad, being an Edinburgh guy.
“I think he was one of the happiest fans when it was announced. He has followed my career, even going back to when I was playing for Livingston and he went to a couple of games.
“He is Hearts-mad and he’s got a good relationship with the fans being in the supporters’ trust. I’m glad I made some people happy.”
Asked which position he prefers, Halliday said: “It’s six and half-a-dozen for me. I enjoy playing football. No matter what position I play, I’ll always give 100 per cent.
“I feel comfortable in a couple of positions. If the manager sees me in centre midfield, I’ll give it my all there but there will be competition in every position.”
Halliday was released by Rangers in May and is now short of full fitness. “It’s been a long period where my future has been a bit uncertain. I’ve probably not gone six weeks without kicking a ball since I was a wee boy, so the fact I’ve gone six months without a ball at my feet has been difficult.
“I’m delighted with the outcome. I just had to be patient and wait for the right opportunity. I’m happy where I’ve ended up.
“There have been [other] offers. Some of them have been well-documented. I spoke to a couple of clubs – some I don’t feel were the right move, some obviously fell through one way or the other. The outcome I have is I’m a Hearts player and I’m delighted with that.
“I certainly look at myself as one of the lucky ones. I know boys just now who don’t have a club and don’t know where their future lies. From a selfish point of view, I’m delighted I’m here.
“First and foremost it’s a big club. They are in an unfortunate position where they probably shouldn’t be. I had the privilege to talk to the manager three weeks ago and I loved his ideas and ambition for the club moving forward.
“You look at the squad and it’s still a fantastic squad. They still have a lot of top-quality players that I will be happy to play with and call team-mates. I’ve said before my favourite away stadium is Tynecastle and I’ll enjoy being the home player for once.
“I had a great chat with the gaffer and he understands the position I’m in. I’ve tried to keep as fit as I possibly can over lockdown but, like anyone will say, it’s difficult. Not only that, it’s completely different fitness to playing football every day, being match-fit and sharp.
“Technically, I’m eight weeks behind the boys who have been training but I’ll certainly look to get back to full fitness quicker than that. There is no fast-tracking when it comes to this type of process but I can assure everyone I will do everything I can to get back to full fitness as soon as possible.
“I’ve got a couple of dates in my mind that I’m looking ahead to. Any extra I can do, I’ll do that.”
The new recruit already knows some of his team-mates. “I know Halks [Craig Halkett], I know Jamie Walker, I’ve met Naisy [Steven Naismith] a couple of times,” he said.
“They will be a big part of Hearts’ future and hopefully we can bring success back to the club this year. It always helps when you know a couple of faces going into a new team. We are all going to strive for the same goal this year.”
That goal is automatic promotion back to the Scottish Premiership before anything else. “That’s certainy the goal and it’s more than realistic. The ambition that the club has shown for the future is something I’m happy to be part of.
“Of course, the immediate goal is getting Hearts back into the top flight at the first time of asking. It’s a challenge we’re all looking forward to but it’s a challenge I’m more than confident we can achieve.
“I’ve experienced lower leagues than the Championship [with Rangers] – these difficult away grounds you have to go to that might not be too glamorous. It’s all part of football.
“I’ve got a brother who plays junior football so I certainly can’t complain playing in the Championship.
“I’m looking forward to it and getting back to playing football again is what I’m looking forward to most. It’s obviously going to be difficult without fans and not playing in front of full houses but the motivation is there to get the club back into the top flight.”
He believes the facilities at Hearts’ training ground, the Oriam Scotland complex, are ideally suited to match their ambitions.
“They are second to none. I was doing my SFA B Licence coaching course this year so I’ve been here before. The only downside has been the traffic but they have all the facilities and equipment that any professional needs.
“The football pitches are brilliant, the gym is brilliant, the food, the bistro, the changing rooms – everything is perfect. You will enjoy coming to your work every day and having a training ground like this to play in.”
A message from the Editor: Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you. The dramatic events of 2020 are having a major impact on many of our advertisers – and consequently the revenue we receive. We are now more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription to support our journalism. Subscribe to the Edinburgh Evening News online and enjoy unlimited access to trusted, fact-checked news and sport from Edinburgh and the Lothians. Visit https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/subscriptions now to sign up.