William "Sandy" Jardine's contribution towards restoring the fortunes of our club during the 1980s can never be understated. This was only one aspect of a quite magnificent career during which he truly merited being referred to as a Scottish football legend.
Sandy was born in Edinburgh on 31 December 1948 and he was raised in Gorgie and Balgreen, where he developed a real affection for Hearts from his father, James, a bus driver and Tynecastle regular. And even though Sandy earned local and national schoolboy honours with Balgreen Primary and Tynecastle Secondary, trained at Hearts' ground and played for North Merchiston Boys Club, United Crossroads Boys Club and Edinburgh Athletic, he was destined for Rangers.
After a spell on the Ibrox ground staff, Sandy turned professional at the age of 17 and he made his senior debut in the 5-1 victory over Hearts on 4 February 1967. He subsequently earned his place in the Rangers Hall of Fame with a remarkable total of 674 competitive appearances and 77 goals.
Over the years, the classy full-back or sweeper helped the Glasgow club to win 13 domestic trophies: three League Championships, five League Cups and five Scottish Cups.
In addition, Sandy was in the Rangers team that won the European Cup-Winners' Cup in May 1972 and he also played 38 times for his country, appearing at the World Cup Finals in 1974 and 1978. It came as no surprise when he was eventually inducted into the Scotland Hall of Fame.
Sandy left Rangers in the summer of 1982 but his football career was far from over and he was appointed assistant manager of Hearts in July that year, joining his old friend and former colleague, Alex MacDonald.
During his initial press conference, Sandy declared that he had come to help Alex achieve four main targets: promotion of Hearts to the Premier League, consolidation in the top division, restoring the club's respect on the field and bringing European football back to Tynecastle.
Sandy Jardine was to achieve all of this and much more.
Apart from his management skills, Sandy was also an influential presence on the field, in what was a young and developing Hearts team. Indeed, the former internationalist went on to make an incredible total of 277 appearances, of which 235 were competitive matches, scoring three goals. In November 1985, taking all his Rangers and representative appearances into account, Sandy became the only Scot to play in 1000 first-class games.
After making a humble debut on 27 July 1982 at North Shields, Sandy's expertise and experience proved crucial for the team and Hearts reached the League Cup semi-finals before going down over two legs against Rangers.
More importantly, promotion was achieved with Hearts being runners-up in the First Division to St Johnstone. The following season, with Sandy directing operations at the back, the team exceeded all expectations and finished fifth in the Premier League. This earned a place in the UEFA Cup and although Hearts went down to Paris St Germain in the autumn of 1984, the games brought further experience to a maturing squad.
Hearts reached the League Cup Semi-Finals in 1984-85 and although the team finished seventh in the League, the management team was happy at the progress being made, and the contribution of their new recruits, Craig Levein, Neil Berry, Sandy Clark and John Colquhoun.
However, few predicted just how well Hearts would perform in 1985-86 when, with Sandy's immaculate performances and leadership, the club only just failed to secure the League and Cup double. Losing the title on goal difference and then the Scottish Cup Final was a shattering experience but Alex and Sandy had brought Hearts back to its traditional place at the top of Scottish football.
This was no mean feat and Sandy was voted the Scottish Football Writers' Player of the Year.
The following season, with Aberdeen looking to replace its manager, Alex Ferguson, Hearts moved to block an anticipated approach for Sandy. In November 1986, he was appointed joint-manager with Alex MacDonald with their contracts extended to May 1990.
Nevertheless, Sandy remained a key man in the team that finished fifth in the League and reached the Scottish Cup semi-finals. Off the field, the management team was making significant moves to strengthen the squad, particularly the record signing of Dave McPherson.
In 1987-88, Hearts, once again, finished second in the Premier League and the team also reached the Scottish Cup semi-finals before going down to Celtic. During the campaign, Sandy had phased himself out of the team to concentrate on his management duties.
The following season, Hearts reached the semi-finals of the League Cup but with the additional demands of UEFA Cup action, the players struggled in the League with only two wins in the first 13 games. However, with several internationalists in the squad, it was only a matter of time before fortunes would turn. Accordingly, it was a major shock in early November 1988 when Hearts' owner, Wallace Mercer, announced that the experiment of having joint-managers had not delivered the expected results and that Sandy would be leaving Tynecastle.
Sandy had made a marvellous contribution to Heart of Midlothian and during his time at Tynecastle, the club had been promoted from the First Division, had twice been runners-up in the Premier League, had three times reached the League Cup semi-finals, had played in a Scottish Cup Final and had twice reached the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup. He had clearly played a significant part in restoring the reputation of Hearts on the playing field.
Sandy worked for a spell with Scottish Brewers and then returned to Ibrox Stadium where he was a very popular and diligent member of the Rangers commercial staff.
Everyone connected with Heart of Midlothian extends their deepest sympathy to Sandy's family at this very sad time.