Date: 13th June 2007 at 2:28pm
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Which of these two attacking midfield players would you have preferred in your Hearts team in their prime: Paul Hartley or Colin Cameron?

Both players were generally deployed in similar roles during their respective times at Tynecastle and you could also argue that they enjoyed a similar level of success at the club i.e. played key roles in helping Hearts to lift the Scottish Cup and also in temporarily challenging for the league title.

However despite playing in almost the same position most of the time, with similar goalscoring records, I do think that they had very different strengths and weaknesses. For me Cameron was never the most talented footballer we ever had, but he made up for this with the incredible energy he had that saw him buzzing all over the park, never giving his opponents a minute’s peace. He also seemed to read the game well, as he appeared in the right place at the right time far too often for him to have just gotten lucky. As a result of this, he scored many more goals from open play than Hartley ever did.

Hartley on the other hand, was a pretty good footballer, who could definitely pass a ball much better than Cameron ever could. However this ability could also be a detriment to Hartley, because as we all know he does tend to have an extremely high opinion of himself, so much so that he’s been known to try and hit the occasional ‘World Cup pass’ when a simple ball would have done! Hartley does have the ability to find a man from distance, but not as consistently as the player he clearly believes he is, and very often he did attempt to go for the impossible option rather than the simpler, possession-retaining one.

Hartley was also much more effective with set-pieces, even despite his inflated ego. For a season there, his delivery from free-kicks in and around the penalty area was absolutely deadly on an impressively consistent basis. His corners weren’t bad either, but his speciality was actually his penalty-taking, as I think I’m correct in saying that Hartley never missed a single spot-kick that he took for Hearts (stattos can correct me if need be!). You just never got the impression that he would miss and more often than not, the goalkeeper would get nowhere near it.

Cameron also had a spell where he was very effective from the spot and was the man who slotted home probably the most memorable penalty kick of any Hearts player in the modern era: the opening goal in the famous 2-1 Scottish Cup Final triumph over Rangers in 1998. However he did eventually miss a couple towards the end of the his Hearts career and once he’d missed one, he never quite looked as confident again in his run-up.

As far as international recognition goes, it is without question that Hartley has been looked upon much more favourably than Cameron ever was for the Scotland team. Whether this is because Hartley is actually a better player or not is very much debatable, as I always felt that Cameron got a bit of a raw deal when it came to playing for Scotland. He suffered the same fate as a lot of Hearts players did during the Craig Brown era: he didn’t play for one of the Old Firm or in England. Once he eventually left Hearts for Wolves, he miraculously appeared to get more opportunities to play for his country, despite his best years most definitely being with Hearts. Funny that.

So overall, if you could only pick one of these two players, which one would you take, assuming that they were both at their peaks? It’s quite a tough choice, but I’ll plump for Cameron because I felt he was a more dynamic player for a longer period of time in his career. I do think that Hartley has more natural footballing ability, but I just feel that Cameron had more to offer from open play and was without question much quicker over short distances, an attribute that got him into countless goalscoring positions.

I’m sure many will disagree though, as there are good arguments for both……….

 

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