First team

Donald's Spurs Memories

03 July 2024

If you happened to walk by a park in Linlithgow in 1974, there’s every chance you may have spotted a Hearts legend working on his game.


In a modern-day game where penalties are analysed down to the final detail by an associated farm team of analysts, data scientists, and football anoraks – legendary 70s striker Donald Ford had to rely on more homespun techniques to craft a sublime spot kick.


"I'd been practising the penalty kicks having asked Bobby Seith at the end of the previous season,” he told the Official Hearts Website.


“I thought, you know, Drew Busby and I are playing up front and, one of us, should be taking the penalties. I said to Drew and he was like 'Oh, no way' typical Glasgow, you know, 'I'm not taking penalties!’.


"So, I went away and had my two boys in a wee field near my home in Linlithgow and was practising penalties against them. I don't think they were so happy about it!"


Even if his children had to contend with hour after hour of kicks from the spot, this work proved fruitful when Hearts met Tottenham Hotspur in the early days of the 1974/75 season.


The North London giants had travelled up to Edinburgh as the Jambos celebrated their landmark centenary year. In a close fought contest, Hearts took a first half lead via a Donald Ford penalty before John Pratt salvaged a draw six minutes from time.


Against a Spurs team packed with quality players such as Pat Jennings and Steve Perryman, it was a suitably special game to toast a very special milestone in the club’s history.


"It was an interesting opening game to what turned out to be a, a really good season for us, although we didn't win anything again. It certainly wasn't for lack of effort," said Donald.


"And yeah, it was exciting to be playing a team with an awful lot of very good players. Mr. Seith, the manager, had said we don't expect them to be going 100 miles an hour or anything.


“So we came to the new season and this is my first penalty kick and when the referee blows a whistle, I'm sure any player will say the same to you, Your heart just stops and then the nerves take over.


 “It's the worst minute or two minutes that a football player will go through - the guy that knows he's taking the penalty. And it doesn't matter if there's 20 people watching the game or 20,000 watching the game, you just can't stop your heart beating, you know.


“It was a great day for that centenary match in 1974, Tottenham obviously came up and played us that day and now they're returning for our 150th anniversary in 2024”


Tickets for our friendly match with Tottenham Hotspur later this month, presented by LNER, are now on general sale!


Supporters can purchase their tickets for both matches online at Hearts eTickets or in person at the Hearts Ticket Office.


View packages for Tottenham Hotspur here


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