Remember THAT transfer window ? (pt 1)
Let me take you back to a time when I don't think any of us knew quite how bizarre the unfolding events were - but oh, did we find out in the year or so following! I take you back to the transfer window of Jan 2006. Despite a painful loss to Celtic at new year, we were still in the title hunt and Graham Rix was signing players to bolster a squad that would give us the strength in depth - and some - to challenge for the league. We signed 11 players, possibly plus some youngsters, who all went on to have very differing fortunes.
Lee Johnson was one of the few actually recognised as a Rix signing, and in a couple of appearances looked very capable of holding his own in the SPL, a performance against Hibs sticks out in my mind - though perhaps that was more for the team showing. He made only a few games in Rix's time, and was effectively out as soon as Rix was. He went on to success with his Dad Gary at Bristol City where they were unlucky losing to Hull in the playoff final - he could have gone on to play in the Premiership! There was also a great story of the Huddersfield manager attacking him in a game, but I don't know enough to start reporting on that one.
Chris Hackett - he was one I never saw, playing only a couple of times for Hearts after joining from Oxford. Good things were said, and I remember he was one we apparently stole from Hibs, but he too followed Rix out the door. He plays for Millwall now, and although has been an important player for them in getting into playoffs, he's on the bench these days.
Neil McCann - he was a fantastic player, who came back to us having lost the speed that had helped him become such a good player for Hearts, Rangers and Scotland. His return was continuously blighted by injury and though he did get a fair few games in, it wasn't nearly the same Neil from the nineties. For me, his best game ever was in the League Cup final in 1996 - although we lost 4-3, he single-handedly deserved to win that game. After leaving Hearts for the second time, he went on to similar unspectacular performances for Falkirk (although he did score a wining goal against Hearts in 2009), before turning in similar performances for ESPN of late!
Nerijus Barasa - not likely one picked by Rix, was an odd one for me, on a few occasions looked very good, and others...well, we all know about those. It was never clear if he was a defender, a midfielder, or indeed just the guy that would play whenever any of Pressley/Webster/Neilson were in the bad books. He was with us, surprising as it seems, the best part of 2 seasons (just for info, and I ncase you're worried, he's not still there!) - upon leaving Hearts he hung up his boots.
Not a player, but worth mentioning at this stage, Jim Duffy also signed up - remember that? A pictures in the media showed the 5 - Hackett, Juho Makela, Jose Goncalves, Bruno Aguiar and Mirsad Beslija. Makela signed from HJK Helsinki having had a fantastic scoring record there, and will be best remembered by Hearts fans for a great hat-trick against Alloa in the cup, but more importantly he scored the equaliser against Barcelona! He was and continues to be a player I tend to have arguments with friends over. I thought he was good, often looking likely to poach a goal, but was on the bench for much of the time while we persisted with woeful striking. Obviously I didn't see him in training but I still feel he could have helped us out a lot more given the chance. He left Hearts on loan a couple of times, before eventually being released and returning to Helsinki, where he started scoring again. I believe for this season he moved to Sydney and is playing in Australia's A-League.