The History of Heart of Midlothian Football Club
Heart of Midlothian Football Club boasts a long and fascinating history dating back to 1874. Club Historian David Speed is currently revamping this section of the website with a view to presenting an extensive overview of the club's history, broken into 10-year segments.
It remains a work in progress, however, the result will be a comprehensive insight into what makes HMFC the club it is today.
1896 Scottish Cup Final: Hearts v Hibs at Logie Green
Never have so many owed so much to so few. Although these words were spoken by Winston Churchill in assessing the Second World War, the same applies to the conflict that preceded it.
And this sentiment is well represented the Heart of Midlothian War Memorial which stands at Haymarket.
In November 1914, with Heart of Midlothian comfortably leading the First Division, 16 players removed their football boots for those of the Army, enlisting to fight in France.
In doing so, they became the first British team to sign up en masse. They were part of the now legendary "McCrae's Battalion" (the 16th Royal Scots) or the Provost's Battalion (the First Royal Scots) and fought valiantly.
Nowhere was this more true than at the horrors of the Somme, where the British army lost 20,000 men on the first day alone. This included three Hearts players.
The example of Heart of Midlothian inspired fans and fellow professionals alike to answer the call of King and country. By the time the war concluded, seven Hearts first-teamers had made the ultimate sacrifice. They were:
SERGEANT DUNCAN CURRIE
SERGEANT JOHN ALLAN
LANCE CORPORAL JAMES BOYD
CORPORAL TOM GRACIE
PRIVATE ERNEST ELLIS
PRIVATE JAMES SPEEDIE
PRIVATE HENRY WATTIE
To honour these men and the many others who fought in both world wars, a memorial was erected in 1922. It is presently situated in the Haymarket, near the offices where the first batch of players enlisted. It was removed to accommodate the tram works then returned, close to its original position.
Every Remembrance Sunday, officials, players and supporters of Heart of Midlothian Football Club gather to pay their respects. There also exists a Great War Committee, which has raised funds to finance a commemorative cairn at Contalmaison in France.
For more information on this, see the McCrae's Battalion Trust website.
The Old Tolbooth of Edinburgh
The Heart of Midlothian Football Club takes its name from the Old Tolbooth (tax-house) of Edinburgh that stood in the High Street, adjacent to St.Giles’ Cathedral. The original building was also used as a meeting place for the Scottish Parliament; Edinburgh Town Council; the Privy Council; and the High Court. However, after 1640, it housed the city prison with the hangman’s scaffold standing on a two-storey annex. This sinister building was referred to as the “Heart of Midlothian” and although it was demolished in 1817, since 1860, its former entrance has been marked by a heart-shape formation of the causeway stones.
The prison was such a notable landmark that it was splendidly recalled in a famous novel, “Heart of Midlothian”, written by a native of Edinburgh, Sir Walter Scott. The names of his books and characters were regularly adopted for a number of diverse purposes, such as The Heart of Midlothian Quadrille Assembly (a dancing club) from where our football team emerged.
From Washing Green Court to the Meadows
We learn much from the writings of George Robertson who first watched Hearts in 1878 and eventually became the club secretary; a director; and first historian. George documented the early years and his lecture notes are now held in the club’s archive. He was certainly close to the original players, Robertson’s parents living in Washing Green Court, situated off the South Back Canongate (now Holyrood Road) at its junction with Dumbiedykes Road. This was the site of the neighbourhood refreshment rooms that catered for all-manner of functions and activities, including the Heart of Midlothian Quadrille Assembly.
On 4 March 1889, when most of the original players were still around, The Edinburgh Evening News also recalled the club’s formation: “ The Hearts had a curious inauguration, for in 1875, they had their origin from the Heart of Mid-Lothian Quadrille Assembly Club. The members of this dancing party one evening adjourned to the Meadows, got the loan of a ball from a cricketer named Howie, and played until the ball burst. Their vigorous enthusiasm did not stay here, as Mr. James Reid discovered that he had sufficient to buy a new ball.”
An old “tradition” has it that a policeman directed the lads from the Tron Kirk to the Meadows, where he thought their energies could be put to better use kicking a ball rather than hanging around the streets. It was also said that the youngsters purchased a ball from Percival King’s shop in Lothian Street and proceeded to the East Meadows. There the seeds of the Heart of Midlothian Football Club were sown although the young men are likely to have played under local rules, that were a mixture of both rugby and soccer codes.
Football Association Rules reach Edinburgh
However, in December 1873, the best players of Queens Park and Clydesdale played an exhibition match at Raimes Park, Bonnington (now Victoria Park) to introduce Football Association Rules to Edinburgh. Among the 200 spectators were a number of the dance hall footballers who then decided to adopt Association Rules during the early months of 1874. Their restructured side was called Heart of Mid-Lothian Football Club after their other favourite pastime.
The precise date of the club's formation was never recorded, but as it was during 1874 that the players and members adopted Football Association Rules, this has become the accepted date that the Hearts, as they are popularly known, was established.
Hearts join The Scottish Football Association
There was no mention of Hearts in the newspapers during season 1874-75, but the team was clearly playing, because the club immediately appears as a well-established organisation at the commencement of 1875-76. In fact, in August 1875, Heart of Midlothian FC was strong enough to join both the Scottish Football Association and become a founder member of the Edinburgh Football Association (now the East of Scotland FA). The secretary was Hugh Wylie, 2 West Richmond Street, Edinburgh and the first team picture shows the players dressed in white with a heart on the left breast.
Tom Purdie was the first captain and home matches were played on the East Meadows Public Park, which was used by many teams including Hearts’ greatest rivals, the Hibernians. The club was based in Anderson's Coffee House and Tavern, on the corner of St.Patrick Street and West Crosscauseway, and that establishment was recorded as Hearts’ headquarters by the SFA. The players changed in an upstairs room until the following year when a stripping box was built in the Meadows Schoolhouse.
Hearts hit the Press
At the end of August 1875, the “Scotsman” reported a challenge match on the East Meadows between Hearts and The Third Edinburgh Rife Volunteers. This was the first time the club was mentioned in the press, but the Volunteers ran out 2-0 winners. In October 1875 the team also played its first Scottish FA Cup-tie, against the same opponents. At Craigmount Park in the Grange, Hearts held the Volunteers to a 0-0 draw and the teams met again in the East Meadows before several hundred spectators and again drew 0-0. In accordance with the rules of the time, both sides moved on to the next round where Hearts lost 2-0 to Drumpellier FC in Coatbridge.
On Christmas Day 1875, Hearts challenged the Hibernians and despite playing without three men for the first twenty minutes, Hearts won 1-0 at the East Meadows. This was the first known match against the greens.
Hearts First Honour
The team did not compete for several months in the autumn of 1876, due to a shortage of players. However, Hearts remained members of the SFA and were included in the Scottish Cup, although the playing situation forced the club to withdraw after being drawn against Dunfermline FC. In the meantime, many of the remaining players turned out for St.Andrew’s Football Club and by January 1877, Heart of Midlothian had re-emerged having more-or-less absorbed St.Andrew’s and its players, and having adopted a new strip of red, white and blue hoops.
For season 1877-78, the shirts were dyed to the much-loved “marone” and co-incidentally, the club gained its first honour when on 20 April 1878, city rivals, Hibernians, was defeated in the Fourth Replay of the Edinburgh FA Cup Final (now the East of Scotland Shield). Hearts defeated the “Irishmen” 3-2 at Powburn to become the champion club in the capital, with John Alexander scoring the late winner. Captain, Tom Purdie, long remembered the occasion not only due to the result, but because he was chased by an unruly group of Hibs supporters on his way home.
The winning team was: James Reid, Tom Purdie, George Barbour, James Whitson, John Sweeney, Andrew Lees, J. Burns, Hugh Wylie, John Alexander, George Mitchell and Bob Winton.
At this time, the game consisted of cup competitions and challenge matches with the most important events being the Scottish Cup and the Edinburgh FA Cup, both of which generated great excitement.
Hearts Search for a Home
At the start of season 1878-79 Hearts were still playing on the East Meadows and the club’s headquarters was now Mackenzie’s shop in nearby Chapel Street. However, the Meadows were now overcrowded with spectators milling around and interfering with matches. Hearts therefore played important fixtures at the Edinburgh Football Association ground at Powburn, above where Saville Terrace now stands, and here the club was able to charge admission money. Steady income allowed Hearts to regularly play outside Edinburgh and build up a national reputation.
Hearts won the Presidents Cup in May 1879 beating Hanover by 5-4 in the Final at Powderhall Grounds. However, Hibs won the more prestigious Edinburgh FA Cup and began a period of dominance that lasted for nearly ten years. This did not stop Hearts’ growth and prior to the start of season 1879-80 the club was strong enough to secure its own private park at Powderhall Grounds. This was not the well-known dog track, but a pitch alongside the railway line, standing on what is presently the city refuse works.
In October 1880, Hearts were the first Edinburgh side thought capable of challenging Queens Park, but the maroons lost 8-1 before 3,000 fans at Powderhall Grounds. Nevertheless, at local level, Hearts were a major force along with Hibernians, St.Bernard FC and Leith Athletic. This position was underlined on 30 October 1880 when Hearts defeated Anchor FC by 21-0 in the Edinburgh FA Cup, a result that remains the club’s record confirmed victory.
Hearts move to Gorgie-Dalry
In January 1881, Hearts became the first city club to play in England, although the team lost 4-2 against Aston Villa and 2-0 against Blackburn Rovers. Another major step forward came in February 1881 when the club took over a private field in the flourishing industrial suburb of Dalry where it has long been associated. This was not the present ground, but two pitches laid out on the site of what is now Wardlaw Street and Wardlaw Place. Facilities were quickly erected including a pavilion and an uncovered stand, and the original Tynecastle Park was officially opened on 9 April 1881 with a match against Hanover. Hearts won 8-0 and admission was 6d (2.5p) with ladies admitted free.
In season 1881-82, Hearts ran three teams, but could not match the leading clubs in the west. Indeed the following season, on 21 October 1882, an 8-1 reverse against Vale of Leven in the Scottish Cup, stood as Hearts’ record defeat for nearly one hundred years. The team picked up near the end of that campaign and won the initial competition for the Rosebery Charity Cup, defeating St.Bernards 2-0 in the Final with Andrew Lees and Bob Waugh scoring the goals.
The winning team was: James Reid, John McLennan, John Gair, James Fraser, Bob Barbour, James Ferguson, Nick Ross, Andrew Lees, Bob Waugh, James Wood and William Ronaldson.
Following the Charity Cup success, the club’s fine team was ravaged by English sides who lured Scotsmen down south to play professionally. This included Hearts’ captain, Nick Ross, who was tactically ahead of his time and he starred for Preston North End, the first English Champions.
In season 1883-84, Hibs beat Hearts in both the Scottish Cup and the East of Scotland Shield (formerly the Edinburgh FA Cup). Our city rivals did not have the same recruitment problems, as in those days, Catholic and Irish lads from all over Scotland wanted to play in a green shirt. Accordingly, with Hibs dominating the local scene, Hearts were forced to make underhand payments in order to attract and retain quality players.
While this policy was not unique to Hearts, in October 1884, the club became the first to be suspended by the SFA following a protest by Dunfermline FC. Hearts beat the Fifers by 11-1 in the Scottish Cup, but were expelled from the competition and also suspended as a club, after it was found out that James Maxwell and Chris McNee were in receipt of 26/- per week (£1.30).
In November 1884 the Heart of Midlothian Committee admitted the irregularities and after a new Committee was elected, the club was quickly re-admitted to the national association.
HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN HONOURS BOARD (1874-1884)
The Edinburgh FA Cup: 1877-78
The President’s Cup: 1878-79
The Rosebery Charity Cup: 1882-83
DECADE HALL OF FAME
Hearts Move Across Gorgie Road
The club required time to regroup after suspension and both the Shield and the Charity Cup went to Easter Road in season 1884-85. Of greater concern was the loss of players to England. Indeed, the SFA list of fifty-seven men who were banned after going south to play for money, contained ten ex-Hearts players. This impacted on season 1885-86, when the Hibernians defeated Hearts in both the Scottish Cup and the Shield.
However, the club’s overall progress could not be stopped and Hearts even entered the FA Cup, but decided not to play when drawn against the Lancashire side, Padiham FC. In February 1886, Hearts also played their last game at the original Tynecastle, defeating Sunderland by 2-1 in a Challenge Match. The club moved across the road and opened the current stadium on 10 April 1886 with a 4-1 victory over Bolton Wanderers. The new ground also boasted two pitches, running east to west, and a crowd of 5,500 saw Tom Jenkinson score the first goal at Hearts’ new home.
The season ended on a high note with a rare victory over the Hibs in the Rosebery Charity Cup Final. The first game was abandoned after a crowd disturbance after Peter Bell’s leg was broken following a tackle from James McGhee of Hibs. The replay ended in similar fashion when some Hibs supporters protested at a second goal for Hearts. The third game was at Powderhall on 24 June 1886 and this time 2,500 fans witnessed a 1-0 victory for the team in “marone”.
Hearts Eclipse Hibs
1886-87 was a season to forget as Hearts suffered a heavy reverse in the club’s only appearance in the FA Cup. The team was routed 7-1 by the Lancashire professionals, Darwen FC, and the SFA quickly banned its members from taking any further part in the English competition. In addition, Hibs dominated the local scene and even beat Hearts by 5-1 on their way to winning the Scottish Cup.
On a much brighter note, on 19 February 1887, Tom Jenkinson became the first Heart of Midlothian player to represent his country when he appeared and scored for Scotland in a 4-1 victory over Ireland at Hampden Park. With such quality players, season 1887-88 was significantly better and Hearts ended the long period of Hibernian supremacy by knocking the holders out of the Scottish Cup. Hibs were claiming to be “World Champions” following a victory over Preston North End, but after meeting Hearts, they would never again be regarded as the leading club in the capital. The formation of Celtic also drained their traditional source of players and Hibs eventually stopped playing in 1891.
That big Scottish Cup-tie started on 15 October 1887, and a Tynecastle record attendance of 6,000 witnessed a hard fought 1-1 draw. The Replay attracted 8,500 to Easter Road where Hearts gained a 3-1 victory amid wild excitement. Hopes of winning the Cup were then dashed in the Fourth Round when the maroons went down 4-2 after a third replay against St.Mirren.
That victory over the Hibs was much more significant even though the Leith side beat Hearts in both the local competitions. To keep our feet firmly on the ground, Preston North End won by 7-1 at Tynecastle, although it could be said that they were the real “World Champions” and they won the English double the following year. It should also be noted that on 17 September 1887 in a Shield match, Hearts defeated Vale of Midlothian by 18-0 with Tom Brackenridge scoring seven goals. This remains the club’s biggest win on our current ground.
Hearts Regain the Championship of the East
There was a new look to Tynecastle Park in the summer of 1888, with the two pitches being reduced to one, running in a north-south direction. Two open stands and a pavilion were erected on the east side (McLeod Street) and the capacity was now 10,000. The new season also saw the introduction of several men who would make Hearts famous: Johnny Hill; Isaac Begbie; Davie Baird; and John Macpherson. This did not stop a shock defeat in the Scottish Cup at Alum Works Park in Lennoxtown, where in November 1888, Campsie won 3-1 before 800 fans.
Nevertheless, in March 1889, for the first time since 1878, Hearts won the “Championship of the East” when they defeated Leith Athletic by 5-2 in the Shield Final at Easter Road. Around this time the team also made regular trips to England and many fine sides came to play in Edinburgh. This included the first foreign team, the Canadian FA Touring XI, which managed to beat Hearts by 3-0.
Season 1889-90 was the last year when the fixture list would comprise mainly of friendly matches. However, it was probably the best campaign since the club’s formation with Hearts reaching the Fifth Round of the Scottish Cup, before losing to the eventual finalists, Vale of Leven. The team also dominated local soccer and won both the Shield and the Charity Cup with Leith Athletic beaten in the Final of both competitions.
Founder Members of the League
In 1890, as the leading club in the east of Scotland, Hearts became one of the eleven founder members of the Scottish Football League. The club’s first match in the competition came on Saturday 16 August at the original Ibrox Park, but resulted in a 5-2 defeat from Rangers. Isaac Begbie scored Hearts’ first goal in the Championship.
The initial home game was played the following Saturday when Celtic beat the maroons by 5-0. Hearts first League win eventually came against Cowlairs at Tynecastle on 13 September 1890 and in the 4-0 victory, Willie Taylor scored the first Championship goal at home. Hearts also beat Cowlairs at Springvale Park in Glasgow to record the club’s first League double.
The joint Champions, Rangers and Dumbarton, both beat Hearts home and away, and the team finished sixth in the League. However, they had to play the last nine games without four important players: skipper Isaac Begbie, John Macpherson, Johnny Hill and Davie Baird. These men had taken part in an International Trial against the wishes of the Scottish League and, as a result, they were suspended from the competition. At least all four had the satisfaction of playing against England.
Success in the Scottish Cup
The team reserved its best form for the Scottish Cup and Hearts gained national fame for the first time. The successful run started with a 7-2 home win over Raith Rovers and then after Burntisland Thistle scratched, the Tynecastle side eliminated Methlan Park, Ayr FC, Greenock Morton and East Stirlingshire. That 3-1 victory over the ‘Shire at Bainsford was controversial with Hearts’ defender, Jimmy Adams, punching a goal bound shot off the line. This was one of several high-profile incidents that led to the introduction of the penalty kick in June 1891.
In the Semi-Final, Hearts beat Third Lanark by 4-1 in Glasgow and as a result, on 7 February 1891, the club made its first appearance in the Scottish Cup Final. Isaac Begbie then captained the team to victory over Dumbarton at Hampden Park with Willie Mason scoring the only goal of the game after fifteen minutes. There were 5,000 Hearts supporters in the crowd, which numbered around 12,000.
The historic winning team was: Jock Fairbairn; Jimmy Adams; George Goodfellow; Isaac Begbie; John Macpherson; Johnny Hill; Willie Taylor; Willie Mason; Davie Russell; George Scott; and Davie Baird. They received a heroic welcome at Edinburgh’s Caledonian Station where supporters uncoupled the horses from the waiting carriage and pulled the vehicle up Lothian Road for a celebration at the Union Hotel.
That season, Hearts also won the Shield with a 3-0 victory over Armadale FC and the club subsequently invested in a handsome new pavilion and club house, and also built a press box. At this time the committee picked the team and the senior players also had input, especially the captain. Another important contributor was the trainer, Joe Newton, who looked after the players at the Scottish Cup Final.
Hearts New Squad
Hearts made a strong challenge in the 12-club League in season 1891-92 being unbeaten at home with ten wins from eleven games. This included a 3-1 victory over the eventual Champions, Dumbarton, although the western club won by 5-1 in the return match at Boghead. This proved decisive with Hearts finishing third, three points behind the title winners. During that campaign, Davie Russell became the first Hearts man to score a League hat trick when he hit a treble against Renton, and the team also won by a remarkable score of 10-3 against Clyde at Barrowfield Park.
Hearts hold on the Scottish Cup ended against Renton when a third game was lost by 3-2 at neutral Hampden Park, following two draws. Winning both the Shield and the Charity Cup brought some consolation and the status of the club was recognised by the SFA when Tynecastle was chosen to host the International match against Wales on 26 March 1892. Unfortunately, a snowstorm limited the crowd to 1,200 but they saw Scotland win by 6-1 with a team that included Isaac Begbie; Jimmy Adams; Johnny Hill and Davie Baird.
The club certainly needed to improve the spectator facilities and, in the summer of 1892, the South Stand was given a roof.
Hearts also needed to further expand the squad to make an impression in the League and in season 1892-93, several players were secured who would eventually bring great success. Bob McLaren; John Walker; Harry Marshall; George Hogg; and Tom Chambers all came into the team, although initially the changes had an unsettling effect and Hearts fell to fifth in the League. The team also went out of the Scottish Cup in the Third Round against Queens Park. Before a Tynecastle record attendance of 13,500 the teams drew 1-1 but the Glasgow club was too strong and won the replay by 5-2 at Hampden Park.
In February 1893 a new Hibernian FC had emerged from the ashes of the old club but they were not strong enough to stop Hearts winning both the Shield and the Charity Cup with St.Bernards providing the opposition in both the Finals. The Charity Cup Final actually ended in a 3-3 draw, but as Saints disputed a goal, they refused to replay and Hearts were awarded the trophy.
Hearts Adopt Professionalism
In May 1893, the shape of Scottish football changed forever when, in order to combat the drain of talent to England, the Scottish Football Association authorised its clubs to use professional players. The Heart of Midlothian Football Club immediately grasped the opportunity and began to pay its leading men the sum of £2 per week plus bonuses.
Hearts were now able to complete the team-building and at the start of season 1893-94, Davie Russell, Tom Chambers and Willie Taylor all returned from England, and Willie Michael was recruited from Wishaw Thistle. As a result, Hearts made a late assault on the Championship and were unbeaten away from home. However, the maroons finished runners-up, being unable to catch Celtic after losing the first two home matches against Leith Athletic and the Parkhead side.
That game against Celtic in September 1893 created a new attendance record of 14,500 but they saw Hearts go down by 4-2. Shortly after the match, the club ordered a pair of proper goals nets (fixed to the posts) to replace the free-standing pair that had been used for the best part of a year.
Even though Hearts lost to St.Mirren in the First Round of the Scottish Cup, the supporters had been comforted by a particularly resounding victory over the Second Division Champions, Hibernian. On 12 August 1893 the greens were destroyed 10-2 before 8,000 at Easter Road, the biggest result between the clubs.
During yet another eventful campaign, Hearts won the Shield for the sixth time in a row with a 4-2 victory over Leith Athletic, but the Rosebery Charity Cup Final was lost to Hibs. In addition, in March 1894, Hearts Reserve Team won the Scottish Second XI Cup for the first time, beating St.Mirren in the Final.
Unfortunately the season ended with some animosity and Hearts, Hibs and St.Bernards all resigned from the East of Scotland FA after a dispute over match dates.
HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN
HONOURS BOARD (1885-1894)
The Scottish FA Cup: 1890-91
The Rosebery Charity Cup: 1885-86; 1889-90; 1891-92; 1892-93
The East of Scotland Shield: 1888-89; 1889-90; 1890-91; 1891-92; 1892-93; 1893-94
DECADE HALL OF FAME
Tom Jenkinson; Davie Russell; Jimmy Adams; Johnny Hill; and John Macpherson
Tom Jenkinson; Tom Brackenridge; Jimmy Adams; Isaac Begbie; Davie Baird; John Macpherson; Johnny Hill; Willie Taylor; and Tom Chambers
SCOTTISH LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL PLAYERS
Jimmy Adams; Isaac Begbie; John Fairbairn; and Davie Baird
Champions of Scotland
Professional clubs attracted the best players and in 1894-95, Hearts’ Committee assembled a squad that became Scottish Champions for the first time. Isaac Begbie was the captain, ably supported by George Hogg, Bob McLaren, Willie Michael and John Walker, while the new full-back partnership of Barney Battles and James Mirk turned a good side into a great one.
Trainer, Joe Newton, had the players in fine shape and with a wide-passing game, Hearts left all the challengers in their wake, winning the first eleven League fixtures, a remarkable start, which remains a club record. The title was all but secured on 16 February 1895, in the fourth last game, when Celtic were destroyed at Tynecastle by the razor sharp, John Walker, who scored twice in a 4-0 win. It was actually clinched on 30 March in the second last fixture, when Dundee was beaten 4-0 in Gorgie. The players received a £5 bonus as Hearts finished with 31 points from 18 games, five ahead of Celtic, scoring 50 goals and conceding only 18.
Hearts should have added the Scottish Cup, but unaccountably lost 1-0 in a Semi-Final Replay against the eventual winners, St.Bernards. Nerves had affected the players in the 0-0 draw at Tynecastle, because a record-equalling crowd of 14,500 had broken down fences and spilled onto the track
Having temporarily left the East of Scotland FA, the region’s senior clubs formed the Edinburgh League and Hearts were the first Champions. The team was also successful in the Charity Cup Final, while the reserves retained the Second XI Cup. This superb campaign included a “World Championship” match against the English Champions, Sunderland, but Hearts went down by 5-3 at Tynecastle.
A Capital Cup Final
Hearts failed to retain the Championship in 1895-96, finishing in fourth position. This was due to a leaky defence that conceded 36 goals and missed Barney Battles who had joined Celtic. With 68 goals, Hearts were actually the top scorers in the League, but there were no draws, the team was either brilliant or bad. On a good day in September, Hearts beat Celtic by 5-0 in Glasgow and Alex King became our first man to score a hat-trick against either of the Old Firm. That month, Hearts also won the initial League derby against Hibs by 4-3, with a Tynecastle record attendance of 17,500 cheering a late winner from Davie Baird. Later on, Hearts crushed Clyde by 9-1 and then went down 5-0 to Dundee in the next match. Such inconsistency ruined the League campaign.
The players reserved their best form for the Scottish Cup, starting with away victories over Blantyre, Ayr FC and Arbroath. The Semi-Finals brought St.Bernards to Gorgie and Willie Michael forced home the only goal. Hibs also won against Renton and for the first time, two Edinburgh clubs met in the Final. As a result, the SFA chose St.Bernards’ ground at Logie Green as the venue, the only time the Final has been played outside of Glasgow. This ground has disappeared under Logie Green Road, but on 14 March 1896 it was packed, with a crowd of fully 17,000.
The players were fit, due to the preparation of trainer, James Chapman, and Hearts started brilliantly with Baird scoring from a penalty after a handball incident. Shortly after half-time, King made it 2-0 with a shot from a tight angle and Michael headed a third goal. O’Neill scored a consolation for Hibs to make the final score 3-1 and Hearts’ winning team was: Jock Fairbairn; Bob McCartney; James Mirk; Isaac Begbie; Davie Russell; George Hogg (Captain); Bob McLaren; Davie Baird; Willie Michael; Alex King; and John Walker.
Hearts clearly benefitted from the player judgement of Committeeman, Tom Purdie, and the talent spotting of Robert Cheyne. This was evident in April 1896, when 17-year old Bobby Walker of Dalry Primrose, was given a trial against Sunderland and was immediately signed. Even then, he showed touches that indicated that he would eventually play for Scotland.
Hearts also beat Hibs 7-1 on the way to winning the Edinburgh League. In addition, the team won the Charity Cup Final with an 8-2 thrashing of Leith Athletic. Hearts also beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 at Tynecastle in a Cup Winners Challenge, while the reserves added their Championship. All this meant that resources were available to expand the stadium banking and construct a track and cycle raceway.
This was a glorious period and in 1896-97, Hearts became Scottish Champions for a second time, finishing two points ahead of Hibs, despite the loss of King and Russell to Celtic, and Michael to Liverpool. However, the club had several players at their peak, including Willie Taylor, Jock Fairbairn, George Hogg, Bob McLaren, Isaac Begbie, and Davie Baird. There had also been some shrewd recruitment in Harry Marshall, George Livingstone, Albert Buick, Tom Robertson and of course, Bobby Walker.
Hearts captain was midfielder, John Walker, and again the players were well prepared by trainer, James Chapman. The team was certainly ready for a crucial game against Hibs at home on 5 December 1896. Our neighbours were four points clear and would probably have secured the title with a win. A Robertson goal defeated the greens and brought Hearts and Celtic within two points of the Leith side. By mid-January, the three teams were on 24 points with two games to play.
Hibs went to 26 points after beating St.Mirren and Hearts moved to 26 after defeating Clyde away from home. The Leithers lost their last match at Paisley to finish on 26 and Hearts could finish on 28 if their final fixture was won. However, Celtic had two games to play and could also make 28. On 20 February 1897, thanks to a brilliant four goals from Robertson, Clyde were hammered 5-0 and there was jubilation when news reached Tynecastle that Celtic had lost at home to Dundee and could no longer match Hearts total of points.
The Scottish Cup holders went out against Third Lanark, although the team did win the East of Scotland League (formerly the Edinburgh League). This was not the most attractive competition, but the inferior make-up of the teams allowed players such as Bobby Walker to quickly develop. The reserves again won the Second XI Cup.
Hearts Come Back to Earth
At the start of season 1897-98, Hearts suffered injuries to key men and fell to fourth in the League. Even though consistency was never achieved, the artistry of Bobby Walker and George Livingstone was often thrilling, but just not enough to deliver the Scottish Cup with Hearts crashing out against Dundee. This led to strained finances and the sale of Tom Robertson and John Walker to Liverpool for £350. In addition, after winning a friendly at Anfield Road, Bobby Walker, who scored the only goal, become another target for English clubs.
The team was successful at local level and won the East of Scotland League and the Charity Cup. The club also returned to the Shield winning the Final against Leith Athletic. This increased the players’ confidence for season 1898-99, and this was further boosted by the recruitment of Scotland’s best goalkeeper, Harry Rennie, from Morton. And Hearts did perform well, but finished second in the League, ten points behind Rangers, who won all their matches. The men in maroon did provide some great entertainment and beat Hibs 4-0 at home and 5-1 away. In the latter match, Bobby Walker scored our first League hat-trick against our city rivals.
The First Round of the Scottish Cup saw Hearts at Ibrox where Rangers won a stormy encounter by 4-1. The Tynecastle players claimed that the ball did not cross the line for Rangers’ first goal and disputed the penalty that made it 2-0. In the second half, with the score 4-0, George Hogg and Isaac Begbie were sent-off for rough play. The other players then wanted to walk off in support and only the intervention of Hearts’ officials enabled the game to proceed. Begbie was later suspended for two months.
As the season drew to a conclusion, Hearts again won the East of Scotland League and the Shield.
A New Century
Hearts’ defence was now reputed to be the best in Scotland, but the team lacked a cutting edge and finished fourth in the League in 1899-1900. They did at least hold Rangers to a 1-1 draw on 18 September, breaking the Glasgow club’s run of 22 consecutive League victories.
A new Inter City League was introduced comprising Hearts, Hibs and the four Glasgow clubs. When the team played Rangers on 30 December 1899, the present Ibrox Stadium was opened, but the rest of the competition was uneventful and Hearts were fourth. The Tynecastle side did win the East of Scotland League and the Charity Cup, but the Scottish Cup was the main target and Hearts eliminated St.Mirren, Hibs and Third Lanark, before going down 2-1 to Queens Park in the Semi-Final.
Bobby Walker and Harry Rennie were in the Scottish team that crushed England by 4-1 in April 1900, but soon afterwards, Rennie made a shock move to Hibs for £50 as he had a sell-on clause in his contract. In addition, George Livingstone, went to Sunderland for £175 while Begbie and Taylor retired. The squad that had been playing for ten years was finished and it was time to invest in quality players, because Hearts were the only club capable of challenging the “Old Firm”. It was also necessary to introduce sign-on fees and the club paid £39 to keep the illustrious Bobby Walker at home.
For 1900-01, Bob Waugh replaced John Dalziel as trainer and he had his work cut out, because due to the departure of many fine players, Hearts made a woeful start, failing to win any of the first seven League matches. The team’s home record was particularly miserable with only one win in ten games. Accordingly, with no automatic relegation, Hearts had to apply for re-election to the First Division after finishing tenth in the eleven-club League. Only 22 goals were scored which is the club’s poorest ever figure, but nevertheless, Hearts were unanimously re-elected.
Astonishingly, the team was good enough to win the Scottish Cup, but this was in no small measure, due to the fact that in October 1900 the club paid £270 for the influential Mark Bell and Bob Houston of St.Bernards. Goals started to flow and Hearts scored 21 in the competition, defeating Mossend Swifts, Queens Park and Port Glasgow Athletic, before drawing Hibs in the Semi-Finals at Tynecastle. A record crowd of 21,500 gave a tumultuous roar when Bell scored for Hearts and although Hibs equalised in the second half, the boys in maroon comfortably won the replay by 2-1 with Porteous and Walker scoring either side of the interval.
On 6 April 1901, it was Bobby Walker who inspired Hearts to victory in the Final against Celtic at Ibrox. In fact, the game was known for years as the “Walker Final” due to the brilliant dribbling and passing of the Hearts captain. The youth and pace of the capital side also upset Celtic, as did the team’s direct, long passing game. Sadly, only 16,000 watched a magnificent contest, due to wet conditions and high admission costs.
Some newspapers credit Walker with the opening goal in Hearts 4-3 victory, but although he was involved, it came from a blistering shot by Bill Porteous. Celtic equalised and then Mark Bell made it 2-1. Walker set up the chance for Charlie Thomson to make it 3-1, but following an injury to George Key, Celtic fought back to equalise. However, with ten minutes left, Walker dribbled through and struck a shot that the keeper could only block. This caused a scramble and after the Celtic keeper could not hold Bob Houston’s shot, Bell raced in to hit the dramatic winner.
The heroes were: George Philip; Harry Allan; Davie Baird; George Key; Albert Buick; George Hogg; Bill Porteous; Bobby Walker; Charlie Thomson; Bob Houston; and Mark Bell. A mighty procession and two bands led the team to the University Hotel in Chambers Street where the players held a celebration. The rest of the season was forgettable although the reserves won the Second XI Cup.
World Class Hearts
In March 1901, the former Renton secretary, Peter Fairley, became Hearts first manager-secretary, being responsible for the instruction of the players and trainers, and a number of administrative tasks. He soon became heavily involved in ground developments because the uncovered North Stand was replaced during the summer by a covered structure with a standing enclosure in front. Wooden beams were also laid into the banking to provide the first terracing. The stand was opened in September 1901 when Rangers beat Hearts by 2-0 in the League and this set the tone for season 1901-02 with Hearts finishing third behind Rangers and the runners-up, Celtic.
Inconsistency against mediocre teams let the supporters down, but Hearts certainly played well against the FA Cup winners, Tottenham Hotspur, in an unofficial “World Championship” event. The first leg in London ended 0-0 with the return match being a 3-1 victory for Hearts. The club was clearly an attraction and Hearts were invited to take part in the Glasgow Exhibition Cup and the Glasgow Charity Cup, but lost in both competitions to Celtic.
In February 1902, Celtic also prevented Hearts from retaining the Cup, winning a Third Round Replay by 2-1 after drawing 1-1 in Gorgie. The supporters had to be content with winning the Inter City League and the Shield although sadly, the season was overshadowed by the tragedy at Ibrox in April 1902 when parts of the terracing collapsed during the Scotland versus England game killing 25 spectators.
The Final Disappointment
Hearts had to replace the departing Houston and Bell, and paid Liverpool £300 to re-sign Tom Robertson together with John Hunter in May 1902. In addition, in January 1903, Andrew Orr came from Morton for £100 and Hearts were ready to make an impact in the Scottish Cup. Clyde, Ayr FC and Third Lanark were defeated before the team met Dundee at Dens Park in the Semi-Final. After a 0-0 draw, Hearts won the replay 1-0 thanks to a blockbuster goal from Bill Porteous. The Gorgie crowd of 30,000 was the largest to watch a Scottish match outside of Glasgow.
In April 1903, it required three games at Celtic Park to separate Hearts and Rangers in the Cup Final, but eventually the Glasgow team won 2-0 before 32,000 spectators. The first game ended 1-1 with Bobby Walker scoring for Hearts and the replay finished 0-0. Hearts felt aggrieved at being denied a clear penalty in the first game and in the second encounter, the Edinburgh side was again unlucky when a Key shot appeared to cross the line before being cleared. Even in the third match Hunter had a goal disallowed at a crucial time, although the loss of Albert Buick through injury was the main reason that Hearts did not secure the Cup.
The team in the first two games was: George McWattie, Andrew Orr, Charlie Thomson, George Key, Albert Buick (Captain), George Hogg, Bob Dalrymple, Bobby Walker, Bill Porteous, John Hunter and Davie Baird. Baird was playing his fourth Cup Final for the club. In the third game, Buick had been injured and was replaced by John Anderson.
Despite expensive team building, Hearts finished fourth in the Championship. The team was also poor in the minor competitions, although Hearts won the Inter City League by shrewd use of reserve strength. Over the campaign there had been discipline problems for the manager and indeed, William Waugh eventually took over from Peter Fairley. In addition, in May 1903, James Chapman came back to replace Bob Waugh as trainer.
Under New Management
The club had been criticised for some crushing that occurred at the Cup game against Dundee and action was taken by joining the two grandstands to make a continuous structure and adding a new pavilion at the Gorgie Road end. The new facilities were opened in August 1903 and that month, the club also became a limited liability company with a view to raising funds to further improve the ground, and also the playing staff. Surprisingly, the Committee found that the sale of shares was not an immediate success.
In 1903-04, under new manager, William Waugh, Hearts finished second in the League, four points behind Third Lanark. Early in the campaign, Hearts lost by 2-1 against the Glasgow club and this success gave them an edge, even though Hearts won the return game at Tynecastle. In fact, Hearts won all thirteen home games, but did not recover from early inconsistency on the road. This was a fair performance as Waugh introduced young players and had to cope with the loss of Buick to Portsmouth. He also made the astute decision that Thomson’s best position was centre half.
In the Scottish Cup First Round, Hearts were unlucky to lose 3-2 against Rangers, but an experimental team did win the Inter City League, even though the fixtures were not completed. In addition, the club secured the East of Scotland League and dominated the other local competitions, including the City Cup where Hibs were beaten over two legs. Including a benefit and a friendly, Hearts played the Easter Road side nine times that season, winning seven and drawing two. Unfortunately the campaign ended with an unexpected player exodus, including John Hunter who went to Arsenal for a chunky fee of £165.
HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN
HONOURS BOARD (1894-1904)
The Scottish FA Cup: 1895-96; 1900-01
The Scottish Football League: 1894-95; 1896-97
The Rosebery Charity Cup: 1894-95; 1895-96; 1897-98; 1899-1900; 1903-04
The East of Scotland Shield: 1897-98; 1898-99; 1901-02; 1903-04
The Edinburgh League/East of Scotland League: 1894-95; 1895-96; 1896-97; 1897-98; 1898-99; 1899-1900; 1903-04
The Inter City League: 1901-02; 1902-03; 1903-04
The City Cup: 1903-04
DECADE HALL OF FAME
David Baird; Isaac Begbie; George Hogg; George Scott; Bob McLaren; John Walker; Albert Buick; Harry Allan; and Willie Michael
David Russell; John Walker; Alex King; George Hogg; Tom Robertson; Harry Rennie; Bobby Walker; Mark Bell; George Key; Albert Buick; Harry Allan; Bill Porteous; George Wilson; and Charlie Thomson
SCOTTISH LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL PLAYERS
George Hogg; Alex King; John Walker; Bob McCartney; Harry Marshall; Harry Allan; Albert Buick; Bobby Walker; Willie Michael; Harry Rennie; George McWattie; and Charlie Thomson