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. For more information on the club's history, visit the Hearts Museum.
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
During season 1904-05 the club ran into financial difficulties because the original limited company, formed in 1903, was unable to continue, after debts amounting to £1,400 had accumulated. Accordingly, in March 1905 at the Quarterly General Meeting, a resolution was presented: “A Proposal for Temporary Loans from Present Shareholders.” This was defeated by 94 votes to 72, but later that month, three resolutions were passed and the company was voluntarily wound-up.
On 29 April 1905, a fresh organization was incorporated on the Register of Companies and the new concern accepted the debt which had increased to £1,600. Despite problems selling all the new shares, the new company cleared this debt within a reasonably short period.
Due to the financial uncertainty, the club was unable to invest in fresh talent and Hearts finished seventh equal in the League with performances ranging between brilliant and mediocre. For example, Hearts won three of four points against the eventual champions, Celtic, but suffered heavy reverses against lesser teams, including a 7-1 humbling against Third Lanark, the club’s record League defeat at that time. Typically, Hearts immediately bounced back to beat Airdrieonians by 6-0 in a game where Bobby Walker became the first Tynecastle player to score five goals in a League fixture.
In the Scottish Cup Second Round, Hearts lost 2-1 against St.Mirren at Love Street, largely due to playing 87 minutes without injured full back, Andrew Orr.
The Inter City League was abandoned and the East of Scotland League was unfinished, although Hearts won the title after a play-off against Dundee during the following season. With the expansion of the Scottish League, these lengthy affairs had had their day, but local knock-out competitions survived, with Hearts winning the East of Scotland City Cup and the Rosebery Charity Cup. A benefit was also played for Bobby Walker against Celtic and Hearts won 2-1 before 6,000 fans.
Hearts Fourth Scottish Cup Success
The new Directors brought fresh ideas and there was a large turnover of players during the summer of 1905. Alex Menzies returned from Motherwell, while David Lindsay was signed from St.Mirren and George Couper from Kings Park. Among the departures were Key, Mackie and Moran who were all signed by a new London club, Chelsea. The feel-good factor was reflected in one of the club’s best-ever campaigns in which Hearts finished runners-up in the League and won the Scottish Cup.
Great credit was due to the team building skills of secretary-manager, William Waugh, and the majestic form of the country’s two best players, Charlie Thomson and Bobby Walker. Alex Menzies was also brilliant, becoming the first Hearts man to score 20 League goals in a season.
The team was unbeaten in the first sixteen League games that included a 5-0 away victory over Rangers. Significantly, Celtic became the first side to take a point from Hearts, in a 1-1 draw at Tynecastle. Hearts were actually unbeaten at home, but on the road, only 6 games were won from 15 with the players faltering in December to allow Celtic to build up an invincible lead. This might be linked to a new playing contract that caused disharmony around the festive period.
Contract issues were resolved for the successful Scottish Cup run that began with comfortable wins over Nithsdale Wanderers and Beith. Then came a famous 2-1 Quarter Final victory over Celtic, before 52,000 at Parkhead. Thisd was the largest crowd to have watched Hearts at that time.
The Semi-Final at Clune Park, against Port Glasgow Athletic, ended in a 2-0 victory and this took Hearts into the Final against Third Lanark at Ibrox on 28 April 1906. On a day of snow, hail and rain, Tynecastle fans made up the bulk of the 25,000 crowd, many wearing blue, Hearts’ colours for the day. After constant pressure, the only goal came in the 81st minute. Walker tried to convert a Couper cross, but after he was blocked, the ball broke to George Wilson who rolled it into an empty net.
Over 30,000 supporters later accompanied the victorious team from the Caledonian Station to the Imperial Hotel in Leith Street for a celebration. The team was: George Philip; Harry McNaught and David Philip; Frank McLaren, Charlie Thomson (captain) and Jimmy Dickson; George Couper, Bobby Walker, Alex Menzies, David Wilson and George Wilson.
Hearts also won the East of Scotland City Cup and the Shield. In addition, as Hibs wanted to play during the festive period, the Hearts Director, Robert Wilson, presented the “Wilson New Year Cup” for annual competition. Hibs won the initial game by the only goal before an attendance of 9,500. There was another notable match at Tynecastle on 3 March 1906 when Scotland lost 2-0 against Wales before a handsome crowd of 25,000.
A Second Successive Scottish Cup Final
The Scottish Cup winning team quickly broke-up, with the Wilson brothers joining Everton for £725. George Philip, David Lindsay and Harry McNaught also went to England and even Alex Menzies was lured to Manchester United for £500. The manager was told to find replacements and among others, he recruited Tom Allan, a goalkeeper from Rutherglen Glencairn, while Tom Collins returned from East Fife.
However, 1906-07 was a disappointing season with Hearts unable to field a settled side and falling to ninth place in the League. The players absolutely denied bad behavior, even though the trainer reported that many were in poor physical shape. Charlie Thomson also asked to give up the captaincy and Tom Collins was appointed. A month later, this decision was reversed and with Couper moving to Everton after being suspended, there were clearly problems behind the scenes.
The Directors knew the team was unlikely to retain the Scottish Cup and £600 was paid to Manchester United for Richard Wombwell, William Yates and John Peddie. Replays were still required to dispose of Airdrieonians, Kilmarnock and Raith Rovers, before Queens Park came to Tynecastle in the Semi-Finals. The attendance of 33,500 was a record for the stadium, that had been expanded prior to the match with the cycle track being removed and the banking sunk below the pitch level. A brick wall was built around three sides and Tynecastle was measured to hold 61,784 of which 4,000 were in the stand. On the day, Hearts won by the only goal of the game, scored by David Axford, but the estimated capacity was clearly exaggerated.
Hearts had reached a second successive Cup Final, a feat they had not managed before or since. Unfortunately, on the eve of the match at Hampden Park, Hearts suffered a mortal blow when Charlie Thomson, joined Jimmy Dickson and John Peddie on the injured list. They were sadly missed as Hearts went down by 3-0 to Celtic before 50,000 spectators. The team was: Tom Allan; Robert Reid and Tom Collins; David Philip, Frank McLaren and William Henderson; William Bauchope, Robert Walker (captain), David Axford, William Yates and Richard Wombwell.
Before the season finished Hearts beat Hibs 1-0 to secure both the East of Scotland City Cup and the Wilson Cup. The team also won the Charity Cup and the Shield, but Hearts had entered a period of decline, not helped by the activities of several senior players whose lifestyle was the talk of the town.
William Waugh took close control of scouting and instructing both the players and the trainers, but season 1907-08 was bitterly disappointing. Hearts fell to eleventh equal in the League and made no impact in the Scottish Cup or even the local competitions.
There were promising League results, including a 7-2 win over Queens Park, and Hearts also won 3-2 at Easter Road. The following week a Tynecastle record League crowd of 22,500 saw Hearts beat Celtic by a single goal, but it was a false dawn. The team subsequently lost five games in a row and the signing of some promising juniors could not halt the slide. On 20 April 1908, Hearts even lost 6-0 to Celtic at Parkhead, a record League defeat that stood for many years.
The manager’s plans were also hit by a severe injury crisis when ten first-team men were sidelined. This included Walker, but he made a recovery and later in the season, when he played against Ireland, Bobby became the first Scot to make 21 appearances for his country.
The Scottish Cup brought temporary relief with four goals being scored against both St.Johnstone and Port Glasgow Athletic. However, Hearts then lost 3-1 away to St.Mirren in the Third Round. William Waugh decided to make an exit and received an interview for the manager’s job at Arsenal, before retiring in March 1908.
McGhee’s Turbulent Spell
Hearts’ new manager was an old Hibernian player, James McGhee, a surprise and unpopular appointment in April 1908. He walked into problems, as a wage dispute resulted in Charlie Thomson and Tom Allan being sold to Sunderland for a combined fee of £700. Things became tougher, because McGhee was a strict disciplinarian and this brought him into conflict with several players whose lifestyle was not as the manager desired. However, James McGhee was an astute judge of a player and recruited several men who would become very influential.
The big question for 1908-09 was how would Hearts perform without Thomson? The answer was poorly and the team spent most of the campaign in the lower half of the League, finishing eleventh equal. In September 1908, Hearts won 6-1 at Motherwell and seemed to be making progress, but later that month, the maroons lost 6-2 at home to Airdrieonians and the supporters became restless. Crowds drifted away to the extent that on 28 April, only 1,000 witnessed the 1-0 home victory over Partick Thistle.
In the Scottish Cup, after beating Kilmarnock, Hearts went out of the competition at Broomfield, losing 2-0 to Airdrieonians. The maroons also had a miserable time locally, winning only the East of Scotland City Cup Final against St.Bernards, which had been held over from the previous season. The East of Scotland League was reduced to a knock-out competition, The North Eastern Cup, but Hearts went out after a violent occasion in Aberdeen.
On a more pleasant note, William Lorimer was elected President of the SFA the first Heart of Midlothian official to receive this honour.
Another Rough Ride
Season 1909-10 was dominated by off-field events and James McGhee had tricky issues from the start. He suspended Tom Collins, for misconduct and fined Bobby Walker for missing the first game. The two players were eventually suspended for the rest of the season and this caused consternation among the fans. In October 1909, both players were reinstated when pressure was brought to bear on the directors. The manager felt that his authority had been undermined and resigned in December 1909.
This situation masked some good business, with Bob Mercer being signed from Leith Athletic and Richard Harker from Hibs. However, disharmony off the field certainly affected players’ form and after a slow start, Hearts were inconsistent and finished twelfth equal in the League
Hearts required an experienced manager and in January 1910, the St.Mirren boss, John McCartney, signed a two-year contract at £5 per week. He started after Hearts played St.Mirren in the Scottish Cup, a tie that required a third game at Ibrox which the maroons won by 4-0. In the Third Round, Hearts visited Easter Road where the game was abandoned after many of the 24,000 in attendance spilled onto the pitch with Hearts leading 1-0. The game was replayed at Tynecastle where Hibs won by the only goal.
Hearts did claim the lion’s share of the local honours with success in the Wilson Cup, the Shield and the North Eastern Cup.
Little Sign of Greatness
There was little sign of progress in McCartney’s first full season (1910-11) when his side contained many players from the south. Indeed, Hearts were often referred to as the “Englishmen”. Players came and went at regular intervals, most notably Tom Collins who was again suspended and then transferred to Tottenham Hotspur for £825. At the turn of the year, Fred Burden and Lawrence Abrams came from Stockport County and Percy Dawson was acquired from North Shields Athletic.
Hearts could never field a settled side and there was little team spirit. In addition, as the players were in poor shape, Tom Brandon became trainer. There were clearly issues that John McCartney had to address and as a result, Hearts suffered 18 Championship defeats and finished fourteenth equal in the League. The Scottish Cup added to the frustration as Clyde scrambled a draw at Tynecastle in the First Round and won the replay by 1-0.
As team building continued, the reserves won both the Second XI Cup and their League Championship, giving an indication of better times ahead. In the local competitions Hearts won the Dunedin Cup (5-1 v Falkirk) and the East of Scotland City Cup (4-1 v Broxburn). A milestone was also reached on 19 November 1910 when Bobby Walker scored the club’s 1,000th League goal during a 2-2 draw against Airdrieonians at Tynecastle.
Tynecastle had a new look in August 1911 with the building of the Iron Stand, a covered enclosure for 4,500 spectators on the distillery side, and also the introduction of crush barriers. On the playing front, youngsters, Paddy Crossan and Willie Wilson, were recruited from Arniston Rangers, while Tom Allan came back from Sunderland. In addition, Hearts signed David Taylor (Darlington), Tommy Murray (Aberdeen), William Macpherson (Rangers) and Frank Sowerby (Bishop Auckland).
Performances significantly improved and Hearts finished fourth equal in the League. The maroons did beat the eventual champions, Rangers, at Tynecastle in April 1912 and also enjoyed a fine double over Hibs, 4-0 at Easter Road and 3-0 at home on New Year’s Day. In addition, a brilliant 2-1 home win over Celtic in September proved one of the season’s highlights, with a new record League attendance of 23,000 in the ground.
Hibs came to Tynecastle in the Scottish Cup and a crowd of 32,000 witnessed a 0-0 draw. The replay, due to bad weather, was declared a friendly and then after a 1-1 draw, Hearts won the third game by 3-1 at Ibrox before 24,500 fans. Hearts subsequently beat Dundee and then defeated Morton in the Quarter Finals. Film of the latter game was shown in the evening at the Olympia Picture Palace in Annandale Street.
This was the first year that the Semi-Finals were held on neutral grounds but, due to a miners’ strike, Hearts’ fans had trouble attending the game against Celtic at Ibrox. Many did so, however, swelling the gate to 45,000, but the maroons went down rather easily by 3-0.
Hearts had to settle for local cup wins with success in the Wilson Cup and the Dunedin Cup. The team had to scratch from the Charity Cup Final due to the club’s first overseas tour, four games being played in Scandinavia. In a 9-0 win over Kristiania Krettslag, Percy Dawson scored four goals and King Haakon of Norway became the only reigning monarch to have attended a Hearts match.
On 2 March 1912, Scotland beat Wales 1-0 at Tynecastle before 31,000 spectators, which was then a record for the fixture.
Bobby Walker’s Farewell
It was announced that season 1912-13 would be Bobby Walker’s last campaign and Sir Harry Lauder launched a national testimonial. Bobby received 250 gold sovereigns and an inscribed pocket watch, but sadly, he missed much of the season due to a back problem. Tom Hegarty also suffered a terrible eye injury that forced him to retire.
Hearts finished third equal in the League, the best performance in seven years. The team made a promising start with some notable results, including a 10-3 victory over Queens Park in the League fixture at Tynecastle. The maroons also beat the eventual champions, Rangers, at Ibrox, before hitting a poor spell at the end of the year and dropping out of the title race. Injuries disrupted the team, because in addition to Walker and Hegarty, Willie Wilson dislocated his shoulder and both William Macpherson and Eli Bradley, were out for long spells.
In the Scottish Cup, after disposing of Dunfermline Athletic and Kilmarnock, a crowd of 65,000 watched the 1-0 victory over Celtic in the Quarter Final at Parkhead. This was the largest crowd to have watched Hearts up to that time and the club organised twelve trains. This earned substantial commission from the 8,064 fans who took advantage. For the second successive season, Hearts had reached the Semi-Finals, but this time the team lost 1-0 to Falkirk at Ibrox Park.
On the local scene, Hearts won the Dunedin Cup and the North Eastern Cup.
Hearts Hit a Peak
Many supporters feared life without Bobby Walker. In fact, the team played very well, because John McCartney was assembling one of the club’s finest squads and Harry Graham proved a fine replacement. As a result, in season 1913-14, Hearts again finished third equal in the League with a new club record of 54 points.
The maroons were unbeaten in the first twelve League fixtures, playing all-out attack at home, with four forwards in away games. The former Tranent Juniors’ attacker, Harry Wattie, had formed an exciting partnership with Dawson and in September, Rangers and Celtic were beaten in the space of three days. Hearts lost the thirteenth game against St.Mirren and although the team bounced back, in the early weeks of 1914, they stumbled again and lost ground.
Progress was affected by rumors that Dawson was to be transferred and Willie Wilson’s absence due to a dislocated shoulder. In January, a shock 2-1 defeat at Dumbarton ended any lingering hopes of the title and even though Hearts took three out of four points from the champions, Celtic, they were ultimately let down by inconsistency against lesser teams.
Hearts went out in the First Round of the Scottish Cup, losing 2-0 to Raith Rovers before a record crowd of 25,000 in Kirkcaldy. This early exit and the need to fund the construction of a new stand led to the sale of Percy Dawson, who had scored 71 goals in 92 League and Scottish Cup games and was top scorer for three seasons. Blackburn Rovers paid a huge fee of £2,500 for his transfer in February 1914, and this sum supported the investment in the stadium. The final League fixture, against Raith Rovers, was played at Easter Road due to the demolition of the old Main Stand.
The season ended with victories over Hibs in the Wilson Cup, the Shield and the Charity Cup Final. In addition, in June 1914, Hearts traveled to Denmark for two exhibition games. A Copenhagen Select was beaten 2-1 and McCartney had clearly built a fine team around pivot, Bob Mercer. It peaked when Hearts defeated the Danish National team by 2-1 with 12,000 spectators witnessing a famous victory.
The press reported that Hearts had never looked back under John McCartney and had become the best team in Scotland without paying huge transfer fees. The manager even said that Hearts were better without Walker, as no other player could match his vision. The fans were certainly supportive and crowds hit a new peak with a League average of 13,000. As a result, chairman, Elias Furst, produced a new five-year contract for the manager.
HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN
HONOURS BOARD (1904-1914)
The Scottish FA Cup: 1905-06
The Rosebery Charity Cup: 1904-05; 1906-07; 1913-14
The East of Scotland Shield: 1905-06; 1906-07; 1909-10; 1913-14
The East of Scotland League: 1904-05
The East of Scotland City Cup: 1904-05; 1905-06; 1906-07; 1907-08; 1910-11
The Wilson Cup: 1906-07; 1909-10; 1911-12; 1913-14
The Dunedin Cup: 1910-11; 1911-12; 1912-13
The North Eastern Cup: 1909-10; 1912-13
DECADE HALL OF FAME
Charlie Thomson; Bobby Walker; Frank McLaren; Tom Allan; and Percy Dawson
Bobby Walker; Charlie Thomson; George Wilson; Alex Menzies; Tom Collins; George Sinclair; Bob Mercer; and Peter Nellies
SCOTTISH LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL PLAYERS
Charlie Thomson; Bobby Walker; George Wilson; Tom Collins; Roderick Walker; Tom Allan; Peter Nellies; Bob Mercer; and George Sinclair
Hearts, Hearts, Glorious Hearts
The Hearts squad in season 1914-15 was one of its finest, although the players’ exploits off-the-field would eventually earn more fame. On 4 August 1914, Britain had entered what would become known as the Great War and the club immediately lost to the forces, George Sinclair and Neil Moreland, who were Army Reservists.
Accordingly, when the season commenced against Celtic, there was a low-key opening of the new Main Stand. The estimated cost had almost doubled and when the impressive 4,000-seat structure was completed in October, it was £12,780. This was a sum that would severely strain the club’s resources when income crashed during the War.
Hearts opened the campaign with eight successive League wins, starting with a 2-0 home victory over the defending Champions, Celtic, before 18,500 spectators. The run was broken against Dumbarton, but the team bounced back and by late November only one defeat had been suffered from sixteen League games, despite the loss of imperious Bob Mercer who required knee surgery. At that time, the British Army was suffering great loss of life in holding the German advance in northern France and Belgium, and Jimmy Speedie decided to volunteer.
Hearts now had three players in the forces, but general recruitment was slowing and public opinion was firmly moving against the playing of football while men suffered on the battlefields. When legislation had been passed for enlistment, “professionals” were not included and that covered football players. Ultimately, that situation led to questions in Parliament and many complaints in the newspapers about young athletes being exempt from service.
Sir George McCrae then obtained permission to raise and command a new battalion in Edinburgh, which became the 16th Royal Scots, and his recruitment drive was given special impetus when thirteen Hearts players signed-up. The club now had sixteen men in service, while others were actually rejected on medical grounds. Hearts’ minute book recorded that, “the lead established by these gallant youths reverberated through the length of the land”. The good name of football was restored and in a record six days, some 600 supporters also helped to form “McCrae’s Battalion” of 1,350 officers and men.
The Title Slips Away
At first, enlistment had no great effect on the team’s performance and although there were three draws in January 1915, this included a 1-1 result at Celtic Park, after which Hearts looked good for the Championship. However, the team’s flair and energy began to fade, due to intensive military training, inoculations and non-availability of regular players. Assistant trainer, Alex Lyon, died of pneumonia in February and Hearts’ main fitness coach, James Duckworth, suffered a nervous breakdown. The players subsequently cracked under the strain with some vital points being lost, most notably in a 4-3 home defeat against Rangers.
Celtic subsequently overhauled Hearts in the title race as the maroons drew with Aberdeen and then lost to Morton and St.Mirren in the final three games. Hearts had led the League for 35 weeks out of 37, but ended four points behind Celtic when they would have been popular Champions.
The Scottish Cup was cancelled during the Great War and Hearts had to rest content with a 6-0 victory over Hibs in the Dunedin Cup Final and further wins over the Leith team in the Wilson Cup Final and the Shield Final. The supporters were particularly delighted by the prowess of Tom Gracie who was the top scorer with a new club record of 30 League goals.
Hearts Struggle Through
Hearts’ players, staff and supporters served with distinction during the Great War and right from the start, the club was also active on the home front, a recruitment station being established in the ground. The club supplied relief parcels to servicemen and women, and raised funds to assist distressed areas. In this regard, Bobby Walker appeared in the Belgian Relief Fund Match in April 1915 when 18,000 supporters saw his International XI beat an Edinburgh & Leith Select by 2-0.
When season 1915-16 commenced, the War was affecting everyone and crowds declined. The club was severely hurt in September 1915 when Jimmy Speedie was killed in action at Loos in France. The following month, while in military service, Tom Gracie died of leukaemia in Stobhill Army Hospital. In addition, “McCrae’s Battalion” left for France in January 1916 and the Tynecastle team would thereafter be made-up from guest players, servicemen on leave, youngsters and players engaged in vital war work, with everyone earning a reduced wage of £1/10/- (£1.50p) per week.
With a constantly changing team, Hearts’ form fluctuated, but the maroons were occasionally superb and the Champions, Celtic, were beaten 2-0 in November 1915. At this point, top scorer, Willie Wilson, left for the Army and in early 1916, Hearts began to slip down the League. Availability of players became a real problem and in April 1916 (for the first and only time), Hearts could not fulfill a League fixture. This was due to both travel problems and not being able to raise a side, “worthy of the club”, to face Morton at Greenock. Both sides ended with 37 games played as against 38 for the other clubs. All things considered, Hearts did well to finish fifth equal and to win the Charity Cup.
A Tragic Summer
The summer brought terrible news to Tynecastle, particularly after the great allied offensive on the River Somme started on 1 July 1916. This was the blackest day in the history of the British Army when nearly 20,000 men were killed and 40,000 wounded. Three Hearts players were lost in the carnage, Ernie Ellis, Harry Wattie and Duncan Currie. Bullets or shrapnel wounded several others and Hearts also lost James Boyd who was killed in August 1916.
The general depression caused by these tragic events was reflected in the team’s performance in 1916-17, and Hearts struggled through the campaign using 46 players and eventually finishing fourteenth in the League. Hearts never recovered from a dreadful start that saw the team lose nine of the first twelve games, including a 6-1 reverse at home to Falkirk. Despite this, Hearts’ reputation was at its highest ever level due to the club’s War effort.
After recovering from his knee injury, big Bob Mercer, was called into the Army, as was schemer Harry Graham. The manager never knew who was available until match day and his side regularly featured guests and juniors, drafted in at the last minute. The highlight of the League campaign was a double over Hibs and the guest appearances of the Chelsea and England striker, George Hilsden. The season also ended with Hearts winning the Charity Cup following a 5-3 victory over Armadale at Tynecastle, but now a seventh player, John Allan, had been killed in action on the Western Front.
Hearts Hold On
Season 1917-18 was another difficult one, but the club’s War effort was recognized and among many appreciative letters was one from the King of the Belgians. The club was indebted to guest players, including the ace goal scorer, Andy Wilson of Middlesbrough. However, it was difficult to fully appreciate their displays with continuing bad news from the battlefields, where several more players were wounded or gassed.
Bob Mercer, “the mastermind of modern soccer”, was now in action in France and deprived of his leadership, Hearts made little progress finishing a disappointing tenth in the League. The first eight away games were lost and after a home defeat by Celtic on 29 September, the team’s form at Tynecastle also declined. At the end of November, Hearts were actually second from bottom of the League and with falling crowds, the club was heavily in debt.
Quality of performance was just impossible to achieve, due to the unavailability of players. Hearts were even omitted from a War fund-raising tournament and there were genuine fears that the club would be excluded from the League as a result of travel restrictions. Form in the local competitions was also poor with defeats in all four events.
Victory Cup Finalists
At the start of season 1918-19, the War was going well for Britain, but casualties were still high and Tynecastle stars, Paddy Crossan and Neil Moreland were again wounded. On the playing field, Andy Wilson was magnificent and the on-loan striker scored 29 League goals, despite carrying an arm injury suffered on the battlefield at Arras. However, a poor start, in which the team gained only two points from five games, took Hearts right out of the League race.
Nevertheless, everyone was in buoyant mood when the Great War ended in November 1918. Hearts celebrated with a 5-0 win over Falkirk in which Andy Wilson scored a hat-trick. With players returning from the War it was hoped that the team would quickly improve, but it actually took some time before these men gained full fitness and Hearts eventually finished seventh in the League.
In the spring of 1919, the SFA staged a Victory Cup competition and in view of their sacrifices, Hearts would have been popular winners. The maroons beat Third Lanark and Partick Thistle, and with George Sinclair, Paddy Crossan, Willie Wilson and Bob Mercer back, Hearts were looking good. In the Semi-Final, a Tynecastle record attendance of 44,000 saw Hearts crush Airdrieonians by 7-1 with Andy Wilson scoring four goals. However, in the Final at Celtic Park before 60,000 fans, the maroons ran out of steam and went down 3-0 to St.Mirren after extra time.
The Victory Cup Final team was: Willie Black; Bob Birrell and John Wilson; Bob Preston, Bob Mercer and John Sharp; George Sinclair, George Miller, Andy Wilson, Alex McCulloch and Willie Wilson.
Hearts did win the Shield, the Wilson Cup, and the Charity Cup, and in recognition of his efforts in keeping the football club operating during the Great War, manager, John McCartney, was offered and accepted another five-year contract.
The Heart of Midlothian FC Players Roll of Honour
Pte. James Speedie, 7th Cameron Highlanders killed in action 25 September 1915
Cpl. Thomas Gracie, 16th Royal Scots died in service 23 October 1915
Sergt. Duncan Currie, 16th Royal Scots killed in action 1 July 1916
Pte. Ernest Ellis, 16th Royal Scots killed in action 1 July 1916
Pte. Henry Wattie, 16th Royal Scots killed in action 1 July 1916
L-Cpl. James Boyd, 16th Royal Scots killed in action 3 August 1916
Sergt. John Allan, 9th Royal Scots killed in action 22 April 1917
Gunner Colin Blackhall, RGA 1st Lowland
Cpl. Alfred Briggs, 16th Royal Scots severely wounded
Pte. Patrick Crossan, 16th Royal Scots severely wounded
Cpl. Norman Findlay, 16th Royal Scots
Farrier Sergt. James Frew, 16th Royal Scots and RGA 1st Lowland
Bombardier James Gilbert, RGA 1st Lowland
Pte. Harry Graham, Gloucester Regiment and RAMC
Sapper Charles Hallwood, Royal Engineers
Pte. James Hazeldean, 16th Royal Scots twice wounded
Lieut. James Low, 16th Royal Scots and 6th Seaforth Highlanders twice wounded
L-Cpl James Macdonald, 13th Royal Scots
Pte. Edward McGuire, 18th Royal Scots wounded
Gunner John Mackenzie, RGA 1st Lowland
Pte. James Martin, 5th Royal Scots wounded
Bombardier Robert Mercer, RGA 1st Lowland severely gassed
Sergt. George Miller, 9th Royal Scots
Sergt. Neil Moreland, 8th HLI and 7th Royal Scots twice wounded
Lieut. Annan Ness, 16th Royal Scots and 9th Royal Scots twice wounded
Pte. Robert Preston, 18th Royal Scots wounded
Driver George Sinclair, Royal Field Artillery
Pte. Philip Whyte, Gloucester Regiment
Pte. John Wilson, 9th Royal Scots twice wounded
L-Cpl William Wilson, 18th and 16th Royal Scots injured on service
A Managerial Shock
Season 1919-20 was another poor campaign, as some of the old soldiers proved to be past their best. Paddy Crossan, Harry Graham, George Sinclair, Willie Wilson, Peter Nellies, Bob Preston, and Bob Mercer had all reached the veteran stage and new recruits required time to settle. Rebuilding the squad became much more difficult in October 1919 when, despite his prodigious efforts during the War, John McCartney resigned as manager, due to a policy difference with the directors over recruitment.
In November 1919, his son, William McCartney, who worked with the thread makers J & P Coats, and was a senior referee, surprisingly succeeded him.
With turbulence off and on the field, it was hardly surprising that Hearts finished fifteenth equal in the League. The team made a promising start with four straight wins and on 13 September 1919, a record League crowd of 40,700 came out to Gorgie for a Championship crunch match against Celtic. Hearts lost to a last-minute goal by Gallagher and this started a slide down the table, principally due to a suspect defence. Despite this situation, the supporters were backing the team in increasing numbers with a new record average of 15,700 for League matches. With the basic price of admission rising to 1/-(5p) the club quickly cleared its grandstand and other war debts.
Hearts players trained at Gullane for the Scottish Cup matches and enjoyed wins over Nithsdale Wanderers and Falkirk before going down in the Third Round, 1-0 against Aberdeen in front of 21,000 at Pittodrie. The season then fell flat until the final weeks of the campaign brought success in the Shield, the Wilson Cup and the Charity Cup.
On 22 May 1920, Celtic beat Hearts 2-0 in a Scottish War Memorial Fund-Raising Match at Tynecastle before a crowd of 15,250. Not long before this game was played wooden steps had been inserted into the ash banking at the Gorgie Road end of the ground to provide the first real terraces. Bobby Walker was also elected to the board of directors, this being regarded as a positive move to revive the club’s fortunes.
A False Dawn at Tynecastle
For season 1920-21, due to Jimmy Duckworth’s advanced age, William McCartney, appointed a new trainer, Charles Durning from St.Mirren. Fitness and teamwork improved dramatically and after a slow start in the League, Hearts beat Hibs by 5-1 at Tynecastle before a handsome crowd of almost 27,000. Freddie Forbes scored two goals and the former Leith Benburb man was to finish as the club’s top League marksman with 23 goals. Hopes that Hearts could match the power of Rangers were dashed in late September when 31,500 watched the Glasgow side win 4-0 at Tynecastle. The team was inconsistent after this setback, partly due to Mercer’s retirement that forced Hearts to pay a club record of £1,000 for a replacement, Willie Porter of Raith Rovers.
Hearts eventually finished a creditable third in the League, but were never in real contention for the title, being 26 points behind Rangers. Nevertheless, the supporters reckoned that if the centre-half position could be adequately filled, then honours might at long last come to the club.
As always, the Scottish Cup brought fresh hopes of success and Hearts beat Clyde and Hamilton Accies before travelling to Parkhead in the Quarter Finals. The men in maroon earned a £10 bonus after recording a famous 2-1 victory over Celtic, thanks to goals from Willie Wilson and Arthur Lochhead. This sparked great excitement among the supporters, but the Semi-Final opponents, Partick Thistle, after two 0-0 draws, defeated Hearts by 2-0 at Ibrox before a crowd of 38,000.
In the local competitions, Hearts won the Dunedin Cup and the Charity Cup while the Reserves won the Second XI Cup. Testimonials were played for Paddy Crossan, Willie Wilson and Peter Nellies, while the average home gate for League games reached a new high of 17,500.
Hearts could not build upon their achievements, as many of the older players were nearing the end of their careers. Willie McCartney's rebuilding job was made even more difficult with the introduction of automatic promotion and relegation in season 1921-22. Three clubs went down from twenty-two and unfortunately, in a transitional year, the club had one of its worst ever campaigns. Hearts avoided relegation by only two points, finishing nineteenth, the club’s lowest ever ranking.
The maroons made a terrible start in the League recording their first victory in the tenth match (4-1 v Falkirk). The team then had a sensational 2-0 win over Rangers at Ibrox, but this proved an isolated success and Hearts fell quickly into the relegation zone. Hibs even recorded a League double for the first time in twenty years.
Hearts were eventually left with the task of winning the last game of the season at Aberdeen to definitely stay in the First Division. In a freezing hale-storm, the team duly won by 1-0 thanks to a goal from Frank Stringfellow. The whole crowd of 8,000 cheered and Hearts were saved, although in actual fact, Dumbarton drew at Falkirk and even if defeated, the maroons would have stayed up on goal average.
The Scottish Cup brought little improvement and after struggling to beat Arthurlie, it took three matches to dispose of Broxburn United. Rangers then came to Gorgie and 42,500 fans witnessed a terrible 4-0 defeat from the Glasgow side. The team also flopped in all the local competitions.
There were a number of reasons for this dismal campaign, starting with poor discipline. In addition, too many players had reached the veteran stage at the same time and there was also an unsettling transfer deal with former Internationalist, Tom Miller, being signed from Manchester United for a club record fee of £2,850. A more promising striker, Arthur Lochhead, went in the other direction for £2,300.
The directors took immediate action and his assistant, Tom Murphy, replaced the trainer, Charles Durning. Hearts also moved decisively into the transfer market with a raft of new signings, including the experienced defender, Alex Wright, from Aberdeen for £2,550. Shortly afterwards Hearts splashed out £2,700 to buy the country’s most admired striker, John White of Albion Rovers.
The War Memorial
On 9 April 1922, the club’s War Memorial was unveiled at Haymarket before a solemn crowd of 35,000. The impressive ceremony was conducted by Mr Robert Munro, Secretary of State for Scotland, and attended by many dignitaries who heard tributes paid to the members of the Heart of Midlothian FC who joined the 16th Battalion Royal Scots in 1914. The Secretary of State said that they did not hesitate to serve their country in the early days of the Great War and their example was contagious. The Edinburgh Evening News also recorded that, “some of those lads fell in the Battle of the Somme. They fell in the morning of their days with the dew of health upon their brows”. It was an extremely moving occasion.
It had been sixteen years since Hearts had been successful on the field and many more would pass before major honours were won. However, the fame of the Heart of Midlothian had never been higher and for several seasons during the twenties, the attendances at Tynecastle were the best in Scotland.
In season 1922-23, Hearts fans found a popular hero in the handsome, John White, who was Scotland’s top marksman with 31 League goals. Unfortunately, his colleagues scored a combined total of only 22 and with teamwork generally poor, Hearts finished a disappointing twelfth in the table. White was a real live wire and thirteen of his goals helped to spark a run of fourteen unbeaten League games from September to December. When the run ended against Motherwell, Hearts lost five of the next six games and the rest of the season was mixed, with the team finishing 18 points behind the Champions, Rangers.
Following the enormous investment in John White and Alex Wright, there had been further recruitment and McCartney had sixteen new men in his squad. Several required time to settle, including John’s brother, Willie White (from Hamilton); Colin Dand (from Armadale); and John Johnston (from Ardeer Thistle). The manager also encountered one of those seasons when injuries and illness disrupted consistency.
Disappointment in the League was eclipsed by disaster in the Scottish Cup when Hearts lost by 3-2 against the Second Division side, Bo’ness, before 7,000 fans at Newtown Park. The maroons were settling for a draw when the home team capitalised on a mistake by goalkeeper, Jock Gilfillan, who was beaten by a speculative shot that was caught in the high wind. With only nine minutes left, the capital men could not recover the situation.
In the local cups, Hearts won the Wilson Cup and the Rosebery Charity Cup. When Hearts beat Hibs by 2-1, in a special match for Lord Provost Hutchison’s Rent Relief Fund, the fans were treated to the spectacle of the four White brothers playing in maroon, with two as guests. However, the season ended with the manager under pressure and Hearts were again forced into the transfer market.
A Step Forward
There was a noticeable improvement in season 1923-24 with a good contribution from new men, Bob King (Dalkeith Thistle); William McLean (Dundee); Tom Green (Clapton Orient); Walter Bird (Dundee); and Willie Murray (Middlesbrough). With his delightful wing play, the Englishman, “Tiddler” Murray, became a great favourite and well worth his transfer fee of £500. He supplied the ammunition for John White who was presented with a gold medal to mark his scoring exploits of the previous campaign. White scored another 17 League goals, but as there were no other regular marksmen, Hearts finished ninth in the League, 21 points adrift of the title winners, Rangers. The team’s performance away from home was erratic, but they were good at Tynecastle, where several games were filmed for use in local cinemas.
In the Scottish Cup, after Third Lanark, Galston and Clyde were disposed of, Hearts’ supporters were dreaming of a Hampden appearance. However, before a Gorgie crowd of 35,500 the home side went down 2-1 to Falkirk in the Quarter Finals. Hearts were unlucky, as for most of a rather rough match, they played without Jock Ramage, who broke a bone in his foot. The media felt that Hearts’ main problem was a weak half-back line that could not supply decent passes. Truly great players such as Charlie Thomson and Bob Mercer had proved impossible to replace.
Hearts did win the Wilson Cup and League gates averaged 16,250, the best in Scotland, despite high unemployment. The fans certainly turned out for Paddy Crossan’s second testimonial with 11,000 watching Manchester United defeat Hearts by 3-0. With crowds growing, the club proposed to expand the stadium by rebuilding the Main Stand at the School End with the pitch turned to run from east to west. Unfortunately, Edinburgh Corporation rejected this plan, as the stand would block light from Tynecastle School.
HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN HONOURS BOARD (1914-1924)
The Rosebery Charity Cup: 1915-16; 1916-17; 1918-19; 1919-20; 1920-21; 1922-23
The East of Scotland Shield: 1914-15; 1918-19; 1919-20
The Wilson Cup: 1914-15; 1918-19; 1919-20; 1922-23; 1923-24
The Dunedin Cup: 1914-15; 1920-21
DECADE HALL OF FAME
Bob Mercer; Peter Nellies; Willie Wilson; George Sinclair; and Bob Preston
SCOTTISH LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL PLAYERS
Paddy Crossan; Peter Nellies; Jimmy Low; Harry Graham; Tom Gracie; Willie Wilson; George Sinclair; Bob Birrell; John White; and Willie White
Hearts’ Jubilee Season
The club celebrated its first fifty years by publishing a book about the history of Hearts and in December 1924, around 300 guests attended a Jubilee Dinner at the Freemasons’ Hall in George Street. That evening, a message that captured the moment, from the former manager, John McCartney, was read out: “Heart of Midlothian! May it long continue to prosper, and it’s illustrious name, traditions, and glories increase.”
In that jubilee season of 1924-25, the SFA also allocated the fixture against Wales to Tynecastle and Scotland won by 3-1. The Scottish League did likewise and the home side defeated the Irish League by 3-0. Other guests at Tynecastle were Hibernian and St.Bernards, who both used the park for several months, due to their own ground improvement works.
Unfortunately, the domestic campaign was difficult for manager, William McCartney, who was still seeking that consistent winning formula. A big transfer fee of £1,960 had been spent on the Hamilton Academical playmaker, Lachie MacMillan, but the team made an indifferent start with only four wins from the first twelve League games, which included two defeats against the eventual Champions, Rangers. As a result, Hearts returned to the market in a big way, paying £1,900 for Tom Reid of Rangers; £1,000 for Dave Edgar of East Fife; £2,130 for Jimmy Smith of Clydebank; £1,200 for George Miller of Raith Rovers; and £1,300 for Alex Johnstone of Rangers.
Despite these significant moves, Hearts finished tenth in the League, and the newspapers reported that constant team changes had had an adverse effect on results, as did a weak defence that conceded 68 goals against 64 scored. There was also dressing room disharmony after the record-equaling 6-0 defeat at Dundee, and a brawl among the players. They were all disciplined and told to start obeying the team captain and the trainer, both of whom had an important coaching role at that time.
Hearts looked to the Scottish Cup as a means of reviving the campaign and Third Division, Leith Athletic, were defeated by 4-1 at Tynecastle with John White scoring all four goals. However, the maroons then failed at Rugby Park and went down by 2-1 against Kilmarnock in the Second Round. Hibs even had the upper hand in the local competitions, with Hearts only winning the Dunedin Cup.
The directors’ felt that buying experience to support a young squad would quickly pay dividends, although John Wilson was released along with his full-back partner over many years, Paddy Crossan. With League games attracting an average crowd of 17,500 they also had confidence to invest in Tynecastle and in April 1925, the ground was purchased for £5,000 although the City Council retained a buy-back option should the club eventually decide to move. The pitch was then re-turfed and surrounded by a smart cinder track and a new drainage system. The first few steps on the three sides of ash banking were also terraced in concrete.
The directors’ optimism was justified in 1925-26, and results dramatically improved with the team finishing third in the League, eight points behind the Champions, Celtic. John Slaven of Raith Rovers was the only major signing and this better performance came as a result of consistent selection and also shrewd tactics, following the introduction of the present offside law. Only two opponents were now required to be nearer the goal line, rather than three. However, as the law took some time to be fully understood, it was a season of high scoring with Hearts hitting 87 League goals, John White being the main marksman.
After a slow start, the maroons hit some good form and at the end of September, after defeating Rangers by 3-0 at Tynecastle, the team was fourth in the League. Then following some impressive goal scoring, Hearts were top of the table at the end of February. However, the following month, the team lost 2-1 against Celtic in a crucial home game and the title challenge faded. Once again, inconsistency emerged, and after a 6-1 win over Morton, Hearts went down by 5-1 against Kilmarnock, a result that eventually cost the club second place on the old goal average system.
Hearts looked capable of winning the Scottish Cup, although in the First Round, Dundee United was only beaten by 6-0 at Tynecastle after a second replay. John White scored four goals that afternoon and five days later, he hit another four as Hearts dumped Alloa Athletic out of the Cup with a 5-2 score-line. “Jock” followed this with another four in a League match against Hamilton Academical and four goals in three consecutive games is an achievement unsurpassed in British football.
Hearts then met Celtic in the Third Round on 20 February 1926 and a new record attendance of 51,000 was admitted to Tynecastle before the gates were closed with thousands still trying to gain admission. There was serious congestion at the Gorgie Road End and mounted police restored order after spectators spilled onto the field. Sadly, the game ended in an easy 4-0 victory for Celtic, but the amazing crowd scenes led the directors to accelerate the ground expansion scheme. It was certainly required as Hearts average home gate for League games had hit a new record of just over 18,000.
In the local competitions, Hearts won the Dunedin Cup; the Wilson Cup; and also the Charity Cup. However, the season had a tragic end, because on 23 April 1926, reserve team trainer, 36-year old Bob Mercer, died of heart failure while playing for a Hearts XI against Selkirk at Ettrick Park. He had never fully recovered from being injured and gassed while serving his country during the Great War.
Massive development work started at Tynecastle during season 1926-27 with the old “Iron Stand” on the distillery side being removed. The banking was then extended to the boundaries of the stadium and terraced with wood. A crowd distribution tunnel, lit by electricity, was built at the school end, while a new entrance was started at Wheatfield Street, in addition to many minor improvements.
On the pitch, despite recruiting striker, William Henderson, from Manchester United and defender, Peter Kerr, from Hibernian, Hearts failed to build upon the previous season’s success. It was evident early in the campaign, particularly after a 2-1 defeat at Cowdenbeath, that it was going to be a hard year.
Although Hearts were able to defeat Clyde and Celtic at home by scores of 5-0 and 3-0 respectively, in December 1926, both the local evening papers were barred from the ground due to, “unfair and abusive criticism of the players”. However, there was some truth in the reports and Hearts fell back to a dismal thirteenth place in the League and suffered an early Scottish Cup exit. Lack of success and the ground improvements began to strain finances and in February 1927, to the dismay of the supporters, the captain, John White, was sold to Leeds United for a remarkable fee of £5,700.
With League form being poor, Hearts needed to do well in the Cup and in the First Round against Clyde, nine special trains carried supporters to Shawfield to swell the attendance to 24,250. Unfortunately, the maroons lost 3-2, after leading 2-0, and this was quickly followed by the transfer of White. The fans were not appeased by winning the East of Scotland Shield; the Dunedin Cup; and the Charity Cup.
In October 1926, the Scottish League beat the Irish League by 5-2 at Tynecastle before a crowd of 6,850. Another notable event came on 5 February 1927 when Dave Edgar scored Hearts 2,000th League goal during a 3-1 home defeat against Motherwell.
Hearts’ Title Challenge
There was distinct improvement in 1927-28 with Hearts finishing fourth in the League, thirteen points behind the Champions, Rangers. There was a blow at the start of the campaign with full-back, Tom Reid, breaking a leg at the St.Johnstone Sports, however, the team was soon to benefit from the steadying influence of new captain, Peter Kerr. There was also another experienced group of recruits including Sandy Herd from Dunfermline Athletic; Hugh Shaw from Rangers; and Willie Devlin from Liverpool.
Hearts lost the first two League games, but when Shaw was drafted into the defence, a great run followed with seven wins in a row. The fans were excited about the first real title challenge since 1914-15, but when a big test came against Celtic in November, Hearts let a 2-0 lead slip into a 2-2 draw. Nevertheless, after a shaky spell, Hearts went on another fine run at the turn of the year with goals galore from Devlin and Jimmy Smith. Rangers were ultimately too strong and when the Glasgow side drew 0-0 at Tynecastle on 7 March, Hearts title hopes had gone. The maroons subsequently faltered during the final few weeks winning only four points from a possible twelve.
In the Scottish Cup First Round, St.Johnstone held Hearts to a draw at Tynecastle. Then in gale force winds, before 11,750 spectators in Perth, the Edinburgh men won the replay by 1-0 thanks to an extra-time goal from Willie Murray. Forres Mechanics were then demolished 7-0 at Tynecastle and Motherwell came to Gorgie in the Third Round. Hearts were subsequently defeated by 2-1 although the fans were upset at a late goal being disallowed for a foul on the visiting keeper. At local level, Hearts did win the Dunedin Cup; the Wilson Cup; and the Charity Cup.
In October 1927, in view of a League ruling that visiting teams had to wear black shorts, Hearts introduced a new maroon and white hooped shirt for away games.
A New Ground or a New Team?
During the summer of 1928, building work commenced on the Gorgie Road End terracing, raising the standing accommodation over both the turnstile block and the church yard. However, with new players also being required, the directors had to seriously consider postponing the next stage of redevelopment which was the completion of the Wheatfield Street exit and the creation of 2,000 places overhanging Gerards’ Yard.
At this point, some additional financial support from chairman, William CP Brown, proved crucial and allowed the building work to continue. It also made possible three major signings: international keeper, Jack Harkness of Queens Park; Scotland midfielder, Bob Bennie from Airdrieonians for £2,300; and the USA international striker, Barney Battles from Boston Wonderworkers. Battles scored on his League debut and hit a hat-trick in his second game. He went on to equal the club record of 31 championship goals in a season and this helped Hearts to once again finish fourth in the League.
The team had made a very promising start and although Hearts topped the table at the beginning of September, they failed the big challenge when Rangers visited Tynecastle later that month. The Glasgow side won by the only goal in front of a new record League crowd of 48,000 and after this titanic contest, the Ibrox men went on to easily win the Championship. Hearts lacked quality in a number of key positions, but did challenge Celtic and Motherwell for second place, until a poor finish let both these teams finish in front.
In the First Round of the Cup, the supporters came to Tynecastle to see if this competition would restore Hearts’ fortunes, but Airdrieonians had other ideas and won by 2-0. There was some compensation in the minor events where Barney Battles endeared himself to the supporters with some remarkable scoring. Within a month he netted five goals in an 8-2 win over Hibs in the Dunedin Cup Final; two more in the 5-1 victory over the greens in the Wilson Cup Final Replay; and another four in the 5-1 win over Hibs in the Rosebery Charity Cup Final.
While the overall playing performance was slightly disappointing, the club now had a fine stadium with an estimated capacity of 60,000. Support was once more on the increase with a new record average of 18,800 at League matches.
In the summer of 1929, the Hearts squad sailed from Harwich on a tour of Scandinavia where seven games were played in Denmark and Sweden. Hearts enjoyed wonderful hospitality and won six games, losing only to Helsingborg.
Hearts Frustrate the Fans
In season 1929-30, Hearts never fielded a regular side and results were erratic. New recruits included Stewart Chalmers from Queens Park; Andy Anderson from Baillieston; Willie McStay from Celtic; and Bob Johnstone from Coldstream. They were unable to assist the maroons to a better finish than tenth in the League which was a massive 23 points behind the runaway Champions, Rangers.
The first game of the League campaign resulted in a 2-1 defeat at Celtic Park where a new main stand was opened. Hearts then frustrated their fans with an unpredictable mixture of good and bad performances. The team did the double over Rangers with goals from Willie Murray and Andrew Miller bringing a 2-0 home victory. Hearts then won 3-1 at Ibrox which was Rangers first home defeat for over a year.
However, the team was very unsettled and on only two occasions did the same side play consecutively. As a result, Hearts came up with some humiliating results such as losing by 6-2 to both Queens Park and St.Mirren.
One man who was not to blame was Barney Battles who hit 25 goals in the 29 League games that he played. His fame spread throughout the country, particularly when BBC Radio started to broadcast live football, with the first game from Tynecastle coming in October 1929.
The Scottish Cup brought the usual excitement and wins over Clydebank and St.Bernards, took Hearts to Easter Road for a Third Round match against Hibs. A capacity crowd of 29,000 saw Hearts earn a memorable 3-1 victory and then came a Quarter Final tie at Dundee where Hearts fought back from being 2-0 down to force a replay. This was won by 4-0 in front of 31,500 and at that time this was a record crowd for a midweek game outside of Glasgow. Sadly, Hearts then froze in the Semi Final, losing 4-1 to Rangers at Hampden. The mighty crowd of 92,048 was the largest to have watched the Tynecastle club up to that time.
In the minor competitions, Hearts won the East of Scotland Shield and the Charity Cup, but lack of national success, led the directors to discuss the appointment of a team manager who did not have responsibility for secretarial and administrative tasks. Although no immediate action was taken, it had been many years since Hearts had won major honours and the directors at least realized that the club was falling behind.
Barney’s Record Season
In June 1930, the club chairman, Elias Fürst, was appointed President of the Scottish Football League, but then a sad event dampened the start of the new season. Hearts’ most famous former player, Bobby Walker, died at the age of only 51. He was buried at North Merchison Cemetery and when his body was brought from the Royal Infirmary in Lauriston Place, many thousands lined the route to pay their respects.
On the playing field, the name Barney Battles hit the headlines week after week as Hearts burly striker powered his way to a club record of 44 League goals. During this scoring blitz he recorded three successive hat-tricks and at the end of season 1930-31 his overall record stood at an incredible 100 League goals in 91 games.
Hearts had crashed to Hamilton and Rangers in the first two League games and quickly turned to the transfer market, John White returning from Leeds United for a fee of £2,350 and club also paying Glentoren £1,475 for centre-half, Willie Reid. In October 1930, Reid became the first Hearts player to appear for a country other than Scotland when he turned out for Northern Ireland. Manager, William McCartney also made another significant signing in Alex Massie from the Dolphin club of Dublin.
This recruitment and Battles’ goals soon lifted performance and the year ended with a superb 3-0 win over Rangers at Tynecastle and the revival of a League title challenge. Hopes were quickly dashed after a New Year draw with Hibs and a 1-0 defeat away to East Fife. Both these sides were relegated at the end of the season.
Hearts generally suffered from a poor defence that conceded 63 goals in 38 matches, against 90 scored. As a result, although there was an overall improvement, the club finished fifth in the League, 16 points behind the Champions, Rangers.
Hearts were potential winners of the Scottish Cup and Stenhousemuir was crushed by 9-1 in the First Round after they conceded home advantage. In the next tie, Hearts went down by 3-2 at Kilmarnock, where good football was impossible due to gales of wind and rain.
In the local competitions, the maroons won the Shield and the Dunedin Cup, but these fixtures and benefit matches were now choking the season and as a result, Hearts often had to field weak teams.
Due to a continued lack of success in the big competitions, the directors continued to debate the future role of manager, William McCartney, and they found it necessary to publicly deny that he was leaving the club. However, to improve the level of fitness, Tom Murphy, the trainer, was replaced by the experienced James Stewart from Hamilton Academical.
The Hearts Fall Back
In 1931-32, Barney Battles missed many games through a knee ligament injury and without his goals Hearts fell back to eighth in the League, 27 points behind the Champions, Motherwell. There were some humiliating defeats on the road and the team even lost to Leith Athletic who won only six games all season. As the League campaign wore on, the press was critical of Hearts defensive weakness and lack of team spirit. The supporters were certainly unhappy at appalling results, such as a 6-2 defeat from Clyde.
As always, the Scottish Cup brought fresh hope and in the First Round, Lochgelly United was defeated 13-3 in Gorgie with Battles scoring five times. In the Second Round a handsome home gate of 32,696 saw Hearts defeat Cowdenbeath by 4-1 and this set up a massive tie with Rangers. On 13 February 1932, the expanded Tynecastle held a new record attendance of 53,396 but Rangers won the game with Marshall scoring the only goal after 15 minutes. Hearts were slightly unlucky with Alex Massie missing a penalty kick and Bob King being sent off.
Hearts won the Shield; the Wilson Cup; and a new competition, the Stirling Charity Cup. Another positive feature was the recruitment in February 1932 of Tommy Walker who would soon commence an illustrious career. Tommy was not yet seventeen and accordingly, he played for a spell with Linlithgow Rose Juniors.
However, the team had again failed to deliver with the defence letting down a potent attack. There was also a perceived lack of spirit and proper preparation and as a result, in April 1932, James Stewart was replaced by James Kerr the Rangers and Scotland trainer. Unfortunately, the club was not in a position to fully support the manager in the transfer market and indeed, a wage cut was introduced, causing further disharmony.
Hearts Thrill the Fans
In 1932-33, Hearts were again a thrilling side to watch with the players happier, fitter and sharper under the instruction of new trainer, James Kerr. Trainers’ had a major say in tactics and Kerr certainly had new ideas and modern methods.
Unfortunately, Barney Battles was sidelined for almost the entire season, following a knee operation, but Tommy Walker was introduced and it was clear that Hearts had found a real star player. Another future stalwart, Archie Miller, arrived from Royal Albert Athletic in October 1932 and these youngsters brought vitality to the squad. Accordingly, under the captaincy of the strapping school teacher, John Johnston, Hearts had a solid League campaign finishing third, 12 points behind the Champions, Rangers.
The team profited from a fine start and stood among the title contenders after only one defeat in eight matches. In October, the reigning Champions, Motherwell, were beaten by 2-0 at Tynecastle with John White scoring both goals. A week later, also at home, Rangers were defeated 1-0 with White scoring in the last minute. Typically, the maroons then lost 3-1 to Falkirk and were just too inconsistent to win the Championship. At least Hearts forced a 4-4 draw at Ibrox and therefore took three points from the eventual League winners.
Hearts also enjoyed a run in the Scottish Cup, defeating Solway Star, Airdrieonians and St.Johnstone, before meeting Hibs in the Quarter Finals. The Second Division side held Hearts to a 0-0 draw at Easter Road before a record crowd of 34,750. The maroons won the replay by 2-0 with Bob Johnstone and Willie Murray scoring before a Tynecastle midweek record attendance of 41,500. In the Semi-Final against Celtic at Hampden, Hearts missed several chances to win, but the game ended 0-0 before a massive crowd of 87,219. The maroons unluckily lost the replay by 2-1 at Hampden.
In the local competitions, Hearts won the Shield; the Rosebery Charity Cup; the Dunedin Cup for both seasons 1931-32 and 1932-33; and the Stirling Charity Cup. It was fitting that skipper, John Johnston, picked up the Charity Cup from Hearts patron, Lord Rosebery, after Hearts defeated Motherwell 3-1 in the Jubilee Final. Hearts had been the first winners of this worthy competition that had raised many thousands of pounds for good causes in Edinburgh and district. This ended one of the best campaigns for many years and the club’s financial worries were now in the past.
During the season, Scotland lost 5-2 to Wales at Tynecastle on 26 October before a crowd of 32,175. Sadly, some tragic events also occurred with the young reserve player, Robert Burns, being killed in a motor bike accident. Former manager, John McCartney, also died, as did the legendary full-back, Paddy Crossan. In addition, in April 1933, a Hearts-Hibs Select lost by 3-2 against a Rangers-Celtic Select in a benefit match for the dependents of men lost in Granton Trawler Disaster.
Hearts Flatter to Deceive
In July 1933, manager, William McCartney, asked to be relieved of his clerical duties in order to devote more time to his work with the players. This was readily agreed, because after a reasonably successful year, Hearts were hopeful that season 1933-34 would bring major honours under the captaincy of the elegant Alex Massie. Again, however, Hearts flattered only to deceive and actually fell back to sixth place in the League, 22 points behind the Champions, Rangers.
Hearts’ title hopes were effectively ended with two successive defeats in October away to Motherwell and Rangers. Nevertheless, the festive period was eventful with Airdrieonians defeated by 8-1 at Tynecastle; Hibs routed 4-1 at Easter Road; and Dundee demolished by 6-1 at Tynecastle. In the spring, six defeats from eight matches pushed Hearts down the table and the team finished a disappointing sixth.
As usual, goal scoring was fine, but the team suffered from defensive problems and to address all the playing issues, Alex Irvine, again promoted the idea of having a team coach in line with the major clubs in England. He was unable to gain the support of his fellow directors.
In the Scottish Cup, Montrose and Queens Park were dispatched and in the Third Round, Hearts traveled to Ibrox and forced a 0-0 draw against Rangers. The replay at Tynecastle attracted a midweek record crowd of 48,895 and the Glasgow men won 2-1 although their first goal could have been ruled out for either offside or hand-ball.
In the local competitions, Hearts won the Shield; the Charity Cup; and the Wilson Cup. Meanwhile, at the AGM, the shareholders were told that the club would now adopt a slow build-up of players, due to the residual debt arising from the recent ground developments.
HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN HONOURS BOARD (1924-1934)
The Rosebery Charity Cup: 1925-26; 1926-27; 1927-28; 1928-29; 1929-30;
The East of Scotland Shield: 1926-27; 1929-30; 1930-31; 1931-32; 1932-33;
The Wilson Cup: 1925-26; 1927-28; 1928-29; 1931-32; 1933-34
The Dunedin Cup: 1924-25; 1925-26; 1926-27; 1927-28; 1928-29; 1930-31;
The Stirling Charity Cup: 1931-32; 1932-33
DECADE HALL OF FAME
Willie White; Paddy Crossan; John White; Willie Murray; Andy Herd; Jack Harkness; and Bob Bennie
Jack Harkness; John Johnston; Barney Battles; Alex Massie; Andy Anderson; and Willie Reid (Northern Ireland)
SCOTTISH LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL PLAYERS
Jimmy Smith; John White; Willie White; Tom Reid; Peter Kerr; John Johnston; Barney Battles; Bob Bennie; Alex Massie; and Andy Anderson
Due to his knee injury, Barney Battles required a year’s break, but he was splendidly covered by the hard-hitting, Dave McCulloch, who came from Third Lanark in June 1934 for a fee of £530. McCulloch was the League’s top scorer in 1934-35 with 38 goals, including 12 in 7 consecutive matches. This terrific marksmanship inspired Hearts to 3rd place in the Championship.
Hearts should have finished higher, because in September 1934, the team started an 11-game unbeaten run, including 8 wins, and reached second place. Before the festive period, there was also an outstanding 4-1 home win over the eventual Champions, Rangers, while at New Year, Hibs were beaten 5-2 and Dundee were crushed 5-1. However, Hearts then lost three successive home games and a promising title challenge fizzled out.
The Scottish Cup also produced thrills, but similar disappointment. The craft of Tommy Walker and skipper, Alex Massie, engineered wins over Solway Star, Kilmarnock and Dundee United. As a result, rumours that Walker might join Arsenal for a record sum of £12,000 caused dismay and split the Directors. This interest was not pursued and Tommy was still with Hearts when Airdrieonians were defeated by 3-2 in the Quarter Finals at Broomfield, before a record attendance of 24,244.
In the Semi-Final against Rangers at Hampden Park, Hearts played before a six figure crowd for the first time, with 102,661 in the ground, including 25,000 Tynecastle fans. Walker scored in a 1-1 draw, but the maroons regretted some missed chances, because Rangers won the Replay by 2-0 in front of 90,428 spectators.
Hearts did win the Wilson Cup; the Stirlingshire Charity Cup; and the Rosebery Charity Cup, and fans enjoyed the emerging skills of striker, Andy Black. During the course of the season, stalwarts, Jack Harkness and Andy Anderson, had benefit matches. Anderson’s testimonial on 15 August 1934 produced a 5-1 win over SK Rapid of Vienna, which was the first foreign club side to appear at Tynecastle.
Despite a sound campaign and a record profit, the season ended in disharmony and the resignation of Chairman, Elias Fürst. Manager, William McCartney, followed in June 1935 as the new Chairman, Alex Irvine, wanted a track-suited approach to this position. McCartney brought through many fine players, but his squads failed to win major honours and he paid the price.
Under New Management
In July 1935, a new Manager, David Pratt, came from Notts County. The former Celtic and Liverpool winger faced early problems, because the trainers’ saw their position being undermined, as Pratt dictated tactics. The public was confident of success, however, with a team containing many internationalists, including Harkness, Massie, Walker, Anderson, McCulloch and Herd.
Hearts’ young side actually dropped back to 5th in the League, 19 points behind the Champions, Celtic. Nevertheless, some performances were outstanding, particularly the 8-3 home win over Hibernian on 21 September. This is the greatest number of goals scored in a League derby with Hearts’ marksmen being Walker (2), Black (2), Wipfler (2), Munro and McCulloch. Another great result came in February 1936 when prospective title winners, Celtic, were beaten by 1-0 at Tynecastle. Unfortunately, Hearts were never serious Championship contenders due to a poor away record, with only 6 wins from 19 matches.
The new Manager was not helped by the Directors’ decision to clear outstanding debts relating to the earlier upgrading of the stadium. As a result, in December 1935, Dave McCulloch joined Brentford for a fee of £5,500 and, within a few weeks, Alex Massie was signed by Aston Villa also for £5,500. McCulloch’s firepower and Massie’s midfield drive were sorely missed, while Barney Battles also gave up his struggle to regain fitness.
Hearts did sign George Robson from Brentford; Charlie Wipfler from Bristol Rovers; and William Russell from Chelsea; but they could not compensate for the departures. Accordingly, the maroons made an inglorious First Round exit in the Scottish Cup at Cathkin Park, where Third Lanark won by 2-0. David Pratt was unhappy about team spirit and felt that he did not have the support of the trainers. Two weeks later, Hearts won by 5-1 at the same ground in the League, sparking rumours of indiscretion by certain players before the Cup-tie.
Hearts won the Wilson Cup; the East of Scotland Shield and the Rosebery Charity Cup. In the latter competition, new striker, Bill Walsh from Oldham Athletic, scored four goals on his debut against Dunfermline Athletic. Even minor games against Hibs remained important and during the season, Willie Waugh and John Munro were loaned to the Leith club to successfully fight relegation.
Scotland beat Ireland by 2-1 at Tynecastle before a crowd of 28,771 and in view of the ever increasing attendances, in March 1936, it was decided to replace all the wooden crush barriers with concrete and steel. Tommy Walker was now a fixture in the international team and that same month, the 20-year old inside-man, famously scored with a penalty, to earn Scotland a 1-1 draw against England at Wembley.
After the previous season’s disappointment, Hearts were active in the transfer market, signing Freddie Warren of Middlesbrough, who later became the club’s first Welsh internationalist, and also Alex Ferguson of St.Johnstone. Ongoing recruitment was required, because during 1936-37, Jack Harkness retired after a distinguished career, while stalwarts, Willie Reid and Sandy Herd, also moved on.
Bill Walsh, hit 22 League goals, but this was bettered by young Andy Black, who scored 30. As a result, Hearts hit a new club record of 99 League goals, but even though they were the highest scorers, the team finished 5th, being ten points behind the Champions, Rangers.
Failure to take points off lesser clubs eventually damaged Hearts’ League challenge, but the real reason may have been the situation behind the scenes. Trainer, Jimmy Kerr, resigned in September 1936, as his methods were not popular with young players and his on-field instructions clashed with the Manager’s. Accordingly, in a show of player-power, most of the squad threatened to strike if action was not taken.
David Pratt, assumed total control and long-term servant, George McCrae, was appointed to the downgraded role of trainer. This cleared the air and Hearts moved up to third with some splendid performances. For example, in December, Hearts were 2-0 down to Rangers, but came back to win by 5-2 at Tynecastle before 40,211 fans. As in so many games, this magnificent recovery was inspired by Tommy Walker. In addition, Hibs were beaten 3-2 at New Year and shortly afterwards, Hearts took the points away to Rangers with a 1-0 victory.
The maroons were acknowledged to be the country’s finest footballing side and early in 1937, William Kean was appointed Secretary, to ensure that all of the Manager’s time was spent with his players. Unfortunately, the internal problems had not been resolved, because in February 1937, after St.Bernards was beaten in the Scottish Cup, David Pratt resigned. No reason was given, although Kean’s appointment may have been taken as a slight to his ability. Four successive games were lost in March and Hearts slipped down the League table.
Captain, Andy Anderson, shouldered more responsibility for on-field matters when Hearts faced Kings Park in the Scottish Cup on 13 February 1937. The home team won by 15-0, a victory which is still a club record in a national competition. Bill Walsh scored eight goals that day which is also a club record.
In March 1937, Frank Moss, the 28-year old former England and Arsenal goalkeeper, whose career had been ended by a shoulder injury, was appointed Manager. The former coach of Arsenal Reserves immediately faced challenges with the departure of Alex Munro to Blackpool. Hearts were also bundled out of the Scottish Cup with a 2-1 defeat at Hamilton, before a record crowd of 28,281.
The new Manager had quality footballers, but needed to end the absurd and almost legendary inconsistency. Moss was encouraged by success in all the local competitions and the loyal support, with the average attendance at League matches reaching a new record of 20,087.
Moss sparks a recovery
Frank Moss introduced modern training methods and detailed tactical talks, but more importantly, he was given a free hand to select the team.
Hearts opened the campaign with a 2-1 win over St.Johnstone and four days later, at Easter Road, Hibs were defeated in the Wilson Cup Final. The result became irrelevant when Alex Ferguson suffered a compound fracture of his right leg, but despite this upsetting incident, Hearts went on to have their best League season for over thirty years and finished runners-up to Celtic by only three points.
Moss certainly tinkered as the campaign progressed and he sold Walsh to Millwall while securing Alex Hyslop (Albion Rovers); Pat Donoghue (Tranent); Alfie Biggs (Arsenal); and Jimmy Briscoe (Preston North End). Another big signing was Joe Mantle from Stockport County, but he broke a leg in only his third game. However, the star of the season was Andy Black who scored 40 League goals.
After seven matches, Hearts were top of the League and travelled to play Celtic. The maroons lost by 2-1, due to missed chances, but the players quickly recovered and were back on top after beating Rangers by 3-0 at Ibrox. Andy Black scored a hat-trick on a day when Hearts youth and dash made the headlines. There were reverses, but Hearts were one point ahead when Celtic came for a real crunch match on 8 January 1938.
The Glasgow club deserved to win the Championship because they came out on top after a brilliant contest. Hearts led 2-1 with fifteen minutes left, but Celtic hit back in amazing style to win by 4-2. Hearts never topped the League again that season and Celtic did not falter, even though the Tynecastle men had a remarkable finish with nine wins in a row.
For a brief period, the team was shattered by the Celtic result and went down by 3-1 away to Second Division, Dundee United, in the First Round of the Scottish Cup. That day, several Tynecastle men were highlighted for a lack of fight, but that never applied to Tommy Walker who was unsurpassed at skillful football and who scored Scotland’s winning goal against England that season. He also enjoyed a testimonial against Derby County, a game that Hearts won by 2-1.
The season ended poorly with defeats in the Shield and the Charity Cup. However, as one of the top eight clubs in Britain, Hearts were invited to compete in the Empire Exhibition Tournament in Glasgow. In the First Round the maroons defeated Brentford at Ibrox, but went down by 1-0 to Celtic in the Semi-Final on the same ground.
Frank Moss fielded a side that was admired for quality football and Hearts regularly provided three, or even four, players for Scotland. With League gates averaging a new record of 20,172 all the club’s debts had been cleared and there was talk of a new ground on the west side of the city, as restrictions were placed on the expansion of Tynecastle.
After finishing second the previous season, Hearts looked good for the Championship in 1938-39. Walker and Black were the most delightful players in the game, backed up by Dykes, Anderson, Miller and Briscoe, although the local press thought the team needed a leader of the attack. Sadly, Hearts’ challenge failed to materialize and the team finished 4th in the League with Rangers the runaway Champions. Hearts hit 98 goals, but the defence was too weak to support a title challenge, with 70 conceded.
The maroons made a great start, but were put to the test on 3 September 1938 when a record League crowd of 49,904 came to Tynecastle for the match against Celtic. Hearts lost by 5-1 and while the club had often been called inconsistent, this season they were erratic with good results always being spoiled by a bad one. For example, a 7-1 away victory over St.Johnstone was followed by a home draw against Arbroath. Too many goals were lost and Hibs even recorded their first League double over Hearts since 1921-22.
However, Hearts were always entertaining, particularly when Archie Garrett came in December 1938, after a new club record fee of £4,000 was paid to Preston North End. At that time, there was real fear of another war, but nevertheless, on 9 November 1938, a fine crowd of 34, 831 came to Tynecastle to see Scotland beat Wales by 3-2, with Tommy Walker hitting two great goals.
Goals were also a feature of the Scottish Cup run and Penicuik Athletic were demolished by 14-2 at home with Archie Garrett hitting six. The Second Round was even better, with Elgin City being thrashed by 14-1 with Garrett and Black each scoring 4. This led to Tynecastle’s first all-ticket crowd of 50,446 which packed into the ground for the Third Round tie against Celtic (50,709 tickets were actually sold).
Amid tremendous excitement, Hearts snatched a 2-2 draw, Garrett equalizing in the dying seconds. However, the replay ended in bitter disappointment before a massive gate of 80,840. A Freddie Warren goal had taken the tie into extra-time and during that period Willie Waugh appeared to have saved a Divers’ shot. Sensationally, the referee declared that the ball had crossed the line and although the whole Hearts team, except ‘gentleman’ Tommy Walker, protested, the goal stood and Hearts were eliminated.
Only the Wilson Cup was won that season while on the international front, apart from the usual Full and League honours, Jimmy Dykes and Archie Garrett toured North America with a Scotland XI, Garret hitting 18 goals.
That season, a new wall replaced the wooden fence in front of the stand and all the crush barriers were finally converted to steel. The club, for the first time since 1905, declared a dividend to shareholders, equal to 10% free of tax.
Hearts were also in a position to actively consider the construction of a new and more spacious stadium at Sighthill, Corstorphine or Saughton Mains. There were always problems accommodating large attendances and a heated debate commenced about moving further out on the west side of Edinburgh.
War Once Again
The public was weary, waiting for Hearts to mould fine players into a winning side, but more important issues overshadowed football, because war was declared against Germany on 3 September 1939. Accordingly, after five matches, the Scottish League was abandoned with Hearts third on goal average.
The Government relaxed an initial ban on football after a month, although the game was not to interfere with work of national importance and long traveling was to be avoided. As a result, two Scottish Leagues of sixteen clubs was organized on a regional basis for 1939-40. Hearts played in the East & North Division and the ground capacity was restricted to 8,000, due to the threat of air raids.
However, demand for football was greatly diminished by national service, rationing, and also because the winter proved to be one of the most severe on record. Not surprisingly, the club’s average League gate dropped to only 3,451.
With the “Old Firm” in the Western League, Hearts were expected to win the East & North Division, but failed, due to constant team changes. In keeping with the tradition of the club, Hearts’ men had been quick to join the forces and the departure of players such as Garrett and Black affected performance, while others missed matches due to important work commitments. To compensate, guest players were allowed and Hearts recruited internationalist, Bobby Baxter of Middlesbrough and other notable players, such as Jackie Gillies, Bob McCartney, Frank and Hugh O’Donnell.
At the end of the campaign, Hearts were runners-up to Falkirk, despite some magnificent victories. The maroons defeated Dundee United by 9-2; Stenhousemuir 8-2; Hibs 6-5; and Arbroath, Alloa Athletic and Kings Park all by 7-2. This was matched by Falkirk who also did the double over Hearts and claimed the title by five points. The “Bairns” won by 3-2 at Tynecastle and 7-1 at Brockville and the maroons had little complaint. Hearts scored 104 goals that season, the first time the club had scored over a century in a League competition.
The SFA also ran an Emergency Cup competition and Hearts defeated St.Johnstone and Raith Rovers, before holding Airdrieonians to a 0-0 draw at Broomfield. The visitors won the Tynecastle replay by 4-3 and a local paper noted that, “Hearts wilted when things went against them, as they have done over the years.”
Hearts did win the Wilson Cup and the East of Scotland Shield. There were also many representative games and in April 1940, Scotland beat the Empire Army by 4-1 at Tynecastle before 7,687 spectators. Behind the scenes, the club’s long serving benefactor, Mr. William CP Brown, resigned from the board due to ill health. It was also announced that Hearts would play in the new and more lucrative Scottish Southern Football League in 1940-41.
Hearts change league
The 16-team Southern League included the Glasgow clubs, but the problem of fielding a strong side remained, and Hearts offered facilities to all players working, or in the armed forces, in the Edinburgh area.
Although Baxter had gone to Hibernian, other guests were a feature of the season and 37 men appeared in the League matches. The most notable new faces were George Hamilton (Aberdeen); Tommy Pearson (Newcastle United); Tommy Dougan (Manchester United); and Jimmy Philp (St.Bernards). The maroons also entered the season without a Manager, because in July 1940, Frank Moss went home to England. Chairman, Alex Irvine, deputized, with the support of his fellow directors.
It soon became clear that constant changes affected performance and sure enough, the team finished 10th in the Southern League. When Hearts fielded a settled team they played well, but the opposite applied, and the control of the players by the directors was not successful. On 19 October 1940, Clyde became the only side to hit double figures against Hearts, running up a 10-3 League victory at Shawfield. The next away game was almost as bad, with the team going down by 6-2 at Hamilton. It was obvious that some of the guest players were not Hearts standard.
Better form was shown in the Southern League Cup and Hearts qualified from a four-club Section, including Queens Park, Clyde and Hibs. In the Semi-Final at Easter Road, Hearts beat Celtic by 2-0 and reached a major cup final for the first time since 1919. The Hampden Final against Rangers attracted a crowd of 69,000 and the team was: Willie Waugh; Duncan McClure and Archie Miller; Jimmy Philp, Jimmy Dykes and Tommy Brown; Tommy Dougan, Alex Massie, George Hamilton, Tommy Walker and Robert Christie.
Walker scored after 37 minutes, although defender Willie Woodburn might have had the last touch. However, Rangers forced an equalizer and a replay. The same team played for Hearts in the second game and before nearly 65,000 Rangers went 2-0 ahead. Hamilton scored twice to level the game, but the maroons crumbled in the late stages and lost by 4-2.
Hearts did win the Wilson Cup and the Rosebery Charity Cup, and also did well in the Summer Cup where Queens Park and St.Mirren were defeated. Hearts then went down 4-2 to Rangers in the Semi-Final at Hampden before a crowd of 24,800.
Hearts advertised for a full-time Manager, but no-one was suitable from seventeen applicants. Accordingly, in June 1941, the club approached David McLean of East Fife, a recognized talent spotter, and a man who could develop young players. He had played for Celtic, Ayr United, Cowdenbeath and East Fife, and he had also guided the Methil club to a Scottish Cup victory in 1938.
In August 1941, in line with the traditions of the club, Hearts played Arsenal to help pay-off the debt on the Scottish National War Memorial. Arsenal won by 1-0 before 20,817 fans and, including donations, an auspicious £2,000 was raised.
New Manager, Davie McLean, worked hard to find promising youngsters to mix with existing players and guests. Forty players were eventually used in the League with notable new guests being John Harvey (Kilmarnock); Harry Betmead (Grimsby Town); George Smith (Manchester City); Sid Bidewell (Chelsea); Jackie Gillies (Clyde); and Bill Hughes (Birmingham). Performances certainly improved and Hearts finished 5th in the Southern League scoring 85 goals in 30 matches. The defence conceded 72 and this prevented a real title challenge.
The League campaign started well with Celtic being defeated by 3-0. Then in September, the maroons started a run of eight wins from nine matches. Accordingly, Hearts traveled to Ibrox on 15 November confident of victory and going on to take the League title. Despite taking an early lead, the Tynecastle men lost by 5-2 and were reported as, “a delightful team, but Rangers carried heavy metal”.
The following week, Hearts were winning 4-1 at Celtic Park, but the game ended 4-4 and this inconsistent form eventually took the maroons out of the League race. Selection problems also led to wild swings in fortune with a 6-2 defeat from Motherwell being followed by a 7-0 win over Falkirk. The maroons eventually ended up 16 points behind the Champions, Rangers.
Fine players such as Tom Mackenzie (Haddington Athletic) and Willie MacFarlane (Bathgate Thistle) were recruited, but in the spring, Hearts crashed out of the Southern League Cup, failing to qualify from a Section including Motherwell, Third Lanark and Rangers. The Summer Cup was no better and after disposing of St.Mirren, Hearts went down by 3-2 on aggregate to Albion Rovers.
The local competitions brought some cheer with victories in the Wilson Cup and the East of Scotland Shield. The Rosebery Charity Cup was also won when skipper, Tommy Walker, guessed correctly on the toss of a coin following a 1-1 draw with Hibs.
The war hits home
In 1942-43, new guests included Ted Platt (Arsenal) and George Wilkins (Brentford), but Tommy Walker and Jimmy Dykes missed much of the season, with Dykes discharged from the RAF to return to his trade as a plumber. Hearts’ reserves now operated in the North Eastern League and the Manager’s recruitment drive moved into top gear, with the signing of Jimmy Brown (Bayview YC); Tom McSpadyen (Glencairn); Malcolm McLure (Larkhall Thistle); and Archie Kelly (Arthurlie).
However, constant changes were the order of the day, due to players’ work and service commitments. Accordingly, it was a surprise to see Hearts challenging for the Southern League during the early months of the campaign. This promising start ended on 31 October when Rangers won by 3-0 at Tynecastle before 21,537 fans, the maroons’ first home defeat of the season. Shortly afterwards, Manager, Davie McLean, fell ill and without his influence the team hit a run of seven games without a win. Motherwell even won by 6-1 at Tynecastle.
Hearts tumbled down the League but McLean returned in March 1943 and after a late rally that produced five wins from the final six games, the maroons finished 7th with 31 points from 30 games. Walker was majestic, but he was often missing, due to military commitments and representative games. He would have been the club’s most capped player, but for the War.
In the Southern League Cup, Hearts failed to qualify from a Section involving Hamilton, Clyde and Queens Park. The Summer Cup also brought little joy with Hearts losing 4-1 on aggregate to Rangers. In local competitions, Hearts went down by 3-2 against Hibs in the Shield Final at Easter Road, but there was a measure of revenge in the Charity Cup Final with Hearts again taking the trophy on the toss of a coin following a 1-1 draw.
That season, Christmas gifts were sent to twenty one players that were serving at home and overseas, but tragically, two young players were victims of the War, John Ramsey, reported missing on air operations in Italy, while Walter Smith died at home with smallpox.
Although thirty players were used in the competitive matches of 1943-44, the team was more settled and finished a promising 4th in the Southern League, 15 points behind the Champions, Rangers. The benefits of the manager’s rebuilding plans were coming through and some fine men emerged such as Jimmy Brown; Charlie Cox; Archie Kelly; Alex McCrae; Alfie Conn; and Willie MacFarlane.
In October 1943, in the Southern League, the maroons had the satisfaction of defeating Rangers by 3-1 at Ibrox and this was followed by a 9-0 home win over Queen’s Park. These were special events and although Hearts were usually good entertainment, they were not consistent enough to push Rangers, who won the return match by 3-1 at Tynecastle.
Hearts were unlucky to be drawn in the same League Cup Section as Rangers who won both matches and topped the Section which also included Airdrieonians and Motherwell. Half the stand was roofless at this time due to essential repairs, but the job was completed in June 1944.
Hearts also took part in the Summer Cup which operated on a two-leg system. The maroons disposed of Albion Rovers, but then crashed out against Falkirk who won by 4-1 at Tynecastle and 2-0 at Brockville. In the local competitions, Hearts won the Wilson Cup and the East of Scotland Shield, while the reserves brought the Second XI Cup back to Edinburgh after a two-legged victory over St.Mirren.
The average League gate was 8,380 which was encouraging because the admission price had gone up to 1/6 (7.5p). However public morale was much higher following the Allied invasion of Europe and the more positive course of the War. Hearts had forty men in the forces at that time and guest players were still a feature. One of these was Otto Jonsson an Icelandic amateur who became the first foreign player to wear maroon.
In August 1943, a Hearts Select beat the Royal Air Force by 3-2 to commence what would become an annual Charity Match.
HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN HONOURS BOARD (1934-1944)
The Rosebery Charity Cup: 1934-35; 1935-36; 1936-37; 1940-41; 1941-42; 1942-43
The East of Scotland Shield: 1935-36; 1936-37; 1939-40; 1941-42; 1943-44
The Wilson Cup: 1934-35; 1935-36; 1936-37; 1937-38; 1938-39; 1939-40; 1940-41; 1941-42; 1943-44
The Stirlingshire Charity Cup: 1934-35; 1936-37
DECADE HALL OF FAME
Alex Massie; Andy Anderson; Tommy Walker; Andy Black; Jimmy Dykes; and Archie Miller
INTERNATIONAL PLAYERS (Excluding Unofficial Wartime Internationals)
Alex Massie; Andy Anderson; Andy Herd; Tommy Walker; Dave McCulloch; Alex Munro; William Waugh; Andy Black; Jimmy Dykes; Archie Miller and Freddie Warren (Wales)
SCOTTISH LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL PLAYERS
Alex Massie; Andy Herd; Dave McCulloch; Andy Anderson; Tommy Walker; Andy Black; Jimmy Dykes; Archie Miller and Tommy Brown