Heroes honoured at Forever Hearts05 September 2022
Hosted by Scott Wilson, Player of the Year and the Hall of Fame were merged into one memorable evening as fans, sponsors and guests raised a toast to Robbie Neilson and his squad as they marked a successful campaign on the park that saw third place, a cup final spot, and European football sewn up in style.
Jim Brown, Bobby Kirk and the 2012 Scottish Cup winning team were inducted to the Hall of Fame as the club sealed their names forever in our triumphant history, with scarcely a dry eye in the house as we paid an emotional tribute to the dearly missed Marius Zaliukas.
It was a successful night for Craig Gordon and Stephen Kingsley, whilst members of the Hearts Women squad were also honoured for the first time in the club's history.
Here are the winners.
Fans' & Player's Player of the Year - Craig Gordon
What a season it's been for our hometown hero. The skipper's world class performances between the posts was recognised by supporters and his teammates on the same weekend he made his 250th appearance for the club.
Craig cleaned up and scooped both gongs, before dashing through to Glasgow to collect his SFWA POTY award. Our captain spoke at length about what Hearts means to him and how proud he was to be recognised by the fans and his fellow players.
The Fans' award was sponsored by Jambos Kickback and was presented by John Findlay on behalf of the forum, whilst our friends at Mercedes-Benz of Edinburgh presented Craig with the Player's award.
Goal of the Season - Stephen Kingsley v Hibs
With so many memorable maroon strikes this season, Hearts supporters had a job on their hands selecting a winner.
Stephen Kingsley's iconic free kick against Hibs at Hampden came out on top, with a boisterous roar going up in the room as replays of his goal were played on the big screen.
Stephen was presented with his award by Assistant Manager Gordon Forrest alongside Dayle Henderson from our friends at Ralph Hendrie Legal.
Hearts Women Player of the Year and Rising Star - Georgia Hunter and Lisa Rodgers
There's a sense of new beginnings for Hearts Women on the horizon, with a move to semi-professional status upcoming. With Eva Olid at the helm, the Gorgie Girls are on the up.
On their bow at the club's award ceremony - teenage goalkeeper Lisa Rodgers took home the Dell Technology Rising Star prize for her exceptional maturity between the sticks, whilst defender Georgia Hunter's composed displays at the back saw her secure the PawPrint overall Player of the Year.
The duo were presented with their prizes by Eva Olid.
Academy Player of the Season - James Wilson
James Wilson was recognised for his performances at the Hearts Football Academy with the overall Academy award. Young James has played and trained with the Under-18s this season, regularly featuring for Steven Naismith's young guns - including an impressive cameo from the bench in the Youth Cup final against Rangers at Hampden.
James spoke with a maturity beyond his years on stage, and mentioned how seeing the likes of Makenzie Kirk and Murray Thomas make their senior debuts had him excited for the future at Hearts.
Joe Savage and Stuart Duncan from our friends at Scotia Security presented James with his award.
Wallace Mercer Special Recognition Award - Clare Cowan
The awards which remembers our former owner and chairman was bestowed to someone who epitomises all that's good about Heart of Midlothian.
In 2006, the club decided to put up a new award for someone who had left a significant imprint on the club. This inaugural award was presented to the late Wallace Mercer and honours an individual whose contribution to the club has been truly outstanding.
Clare is Head of Football Operations and one of the longest serving employees at the club, with over 25+ years of service at Tynecastle.
She's been a trusted confidant to generations of players and managers that have come through the doors at Hearts, always going above and beyond in her role to help.
The award was kept under wraps, with Clare surprised on the night. She was presented with her trophy by the family of the late, great Wallace Mercer.
Doc Melvin Award - Garry Halliday
Our next award, which is presented in memory of much-missed Team Doctor, Dewar Melvin.
The award recognises commitment and dedication and efforts above and beyond to promote all that is good about the club.
This year’s recipient is the epitome of dedication to a cause. His vision, tenacity and unbridled passion were driving forces behind one of the greatest movements in the club’s history.
As one of the founding five members of the Foundation of Hearts, Garry's role in ensuring the club's survival in our darkest day was honoured with the Doc Melvin award.
In a touching speech on stage, Garry credited Hearts supporters as the "best in the world", paying tribute to the fans who saved Hearts in our hour of need.
Garry was presented with the award by Ann Park, Hearts' Director of Community and Partnerships alongside the late Doctor Melvin's wife, Amelia.
Hall of Fame Inductees - Brown, Kirk & the 2012 team
One of many fine servants for Hearts from the late 60s and the seventies, Jim Brown first joined the club as a trainee back in 1965 after being spotted by Johnny Harvey. Jim was a real fans’ favourite during the 1970s. He spent the best part of 12 years patrolling the Hearts midfield, amassing 425 appearances for the club and ranks amongst Hearts’ most wholehearted and dedicated performers.
After years of sterling service to Hearts, he played his final game for the club in 1979. Jim was presented with his award on behalf of the club by outgoing Foundation of Hearts chairman, Stuart Wallace.
The much missed Bobby Kirk is one of the greatest to ever pull on the famous maroon jersey. In May 1955 he was signed by Hearts, the team he'd supported all his life, for a fee of £2,500.
At the end of his first season he helped the club lift the Scottish Cup for the first time in fifty years, defeating Celtic 3-1 in the Final, and followed that with League Championship medals in 1957/58 and 1959/60. He was twice a winner in the League Cup, in October 1958 and again the following season.
Bobby sadly passed away in 2010. His son, Gary, works in the football department at Hearts - and paid an emotional tribute to his father as he accepted the award on his behalf.
Gary was presented with the award by Hearts' Executive Chairman, Ann Budge.
The fabled 2012 Scottish Cup winning side wrote their names into Hearts folklore.
On the 19th of May 2012, they gave us the greatest derby game in history as they demolished Hibernian 5-1 at Hampden to bring the Scottish Cup back to Gorgie.
Many members of that team were in attendance, whilst the likes of Ryan McGowan, Andy Driver, Sergio Cruz and Paulo Sergio passed on video messages wishing the club and award winners well.
There was scarcely a dry eye in the house as a seperate induction was given to the late Marius Zaliukas.
Zal captained the 2012 Scottish Cup winning side. News of his tragic passing filtered through on October 31st 2020, just as Hearts were in the process of inflicting yet another Hampden defeat on the Hibees.
This man took the club to his heart and in turn he was adored by both his teammates and Jambos everywhere.
His teammates talked about how lucky they were to meet Marius, as the room raised a toast to our hugely missed captain.
A huge thank you to everyone who made "Forever Hearts" such a special night.
Images courtesy of David Mollison, club photographer