BY PETER EDGELER
Heart of Midlothian were formed in 1874, the name is taken from the infamous Tollbooth jail which was the subject of Walters Scott’s novel and a crest remains in the Royal mile to this day. The early years of the club were relatively successful with the first win over Hibs coming in the v first game in 1875, a 3-1 victory. Hearts were one of the founder members of the Scottish League when it commenced in 1890 and that season won the first of their 7 Scottish cups. The league championship arrived shortly after in 1895 and again in 1897 sandwiching another Scottish cup victory in 1896 where Hibs were again beaten, in the final this time, by 3-1. One of Hearts’ first legends, Bobby Walker, made his debut for the club during this period and he was the first man to score 100 goals for Hearts. His influence was significant in the 1901 4-3 Scottish cup win over Celtic which became known as the “Walker” final.
The Scottish cup was won again in 1906 but it was the start of the 1914-15 season that there was real optimism that Hearts could again win the league. They won their first 8 league games but when war broke out in November 1914 the entire Hearts squad along with hundreds of fans enlisted with George Macrae’s “Sportsman’s Battalion”. They were the first British club to do so and by the time the war was over 7 players had lost their lives with 11 others injured. Despite sometimes undertaking night marches the night before games they led the league until the final 2 games which they lost to finish runners up by 4 points. The Hearts fans will never allow the memory of those who sacrificed their lives to be forgotten and a memorial was built in 1922 which will be returned to Haymarket on conclusion of the tramworks.
The inter war period was a difficult time for Hearts although there were some highlights, Barney Battles scoring 44 league goals in the 1930-31 season which remains the club record, and the record attendance at Tynecastle 53,396 in a cup game against Rangers. Following the second worlds war things began to look up for Hearts with the “terrible trio” Willie Bauld, Alfie Conn and Jimmy Wardhaugh playing together for the first time in 1948 in a 6-1 win over East Fife. However it was not until Dave Mackay made his debut that Hearts secured their first silverware since 1906 with the league cup in 1954. 2 years later the Scottish cup was added with a 3-1 win over Celtic with Cumming famously returning to the pitch after suffering a serious head injury. A further 3 league cups were to follow over the next 9 years but it was the league triumphs in 1958 and 1960 that put the seal on the most successful period in Hearts’ history.
Heartbreak was to follow though, in 1965 Hearts lost the league on the final day to Kilmarnock using the system of goal average. They successfully lobbied to change this to goal difference and unbelievably lost the league again on the final day in 1986 on this new system when they would have triumphed using goal average.
All of the years of pain were washed away in 1998 when Hearts won the Scottish Cup again, defeating Rangers 2-1 in the final, their first silverware for 36 years. A further Scottish cup was added in 2006 when Hearts beat Gretna on penalties. The real final that year however was the semi final when Hearts destroyed Hibs 4-0 to continue their run of no Scottish cups since 1902. The league season in 2006 had started promisingly with Hearts again winning their first 8 league games but that campaign ultimately ended in disappointment due to managerial changes but they did manage to split the old firm, the first time that had been achieved since 1995.