Club News

1914 plaque unveiled

27th September 2013

Special ceremony at Tynecastle Stadium will mark the ultimate sacrifice made by McCrae's Battalion.

Friday, September 27 2013 is a proud day for Heart of Midlothian FC with the unveiling of a bronze plaque to commemorate the greatest team in the club's history - the fabled McCrae's Battalion which went to war in 1914.

Despite topping the league table with eight consecutive victories, 13 Hearts players enlisted in a new battalion of The Royal Scots, with seven of them making the ultimate sacrifice in the Great War.

Immediately after signing their papers in the Tynecastle boardroom, the players were invited to don their famous maroon-and-white kits for a press photograph at the back of the new grandstand.

This image has become iconic and the 'Tynecastle Bronze' transforms this very photograph into a stunning three-dimensional relief, the new Edinburgh landmark recording for all time the selfless sacrifice and comradeship of a unique group of young men.

Harry Wattie, Duncan Currie, Ernie Ellis, Jimmy Speedie, Jimmy Body, Tom Gracie, John Allan all perished. Paddy Crossan and Robert Mercer eventually succumbed to their wartime gassing, while Alfie Briggs was crippled on the Somme and never played again.

The plaque was designed by historian Jack Alexander and gifted to the club by members of McCrae's Battalion Trust, with the commission being made possible through the generous financial support of JambosKickback, for which Heart of Midlothian Football Club is truly grateful.

The ceremony at Tynecastle later today is the first of a series of events to mark the centenary of the famous battalion and recognised the crucial lead given by the Hearts players while also acknowledging the role played by Hearts supporters and shareholders - alongside comrades from Raith Rovers, Falkirk, Hibernian and other clubs.

The players' action forestalled a question in Parliament aimed at suspending professional football in Great Britain for the duration of the war. They were rightly credited with 'saving the game' and McCrae's Battalion went on to inspire the formation of a similar unit made up of players from the English League.

Photo: Courtesy of the Friends of Hearts Great War Memorial.

On HeartsTV today, Gary Locke and Danny Wilson discuss the significance of the 1914 plaque and look ahead to the visit of Dundee United tomorrow.