Saluting Hearts You’ve Runaway With The Championship


First off, let me apologise, I was meant to write this blog article sooner.


Last May, I came out and said that the Scottish Championship would be entertaining , fascinating and it will be extremely tight at the top.

Well as Meatloaf says ‘two out of three ain’t bad’.

The tight bit was obviously wrong with the Jambos winning the league by a country-mile and have been declared champions before we hit April. They have left Rangers and Hibs in their dust as they took on every challenge and easily surpassed every expectation.

Regular readers of the blog will know that I’ve developed a bit of a footballing crush with Hearts owner Ann Budge. The lady has been a breath of fresh air in the Scottish game. She talks sense, gives praises where its due and criticism when its needed.

I don’t seem to be the only one who’s taken a liking to Ms Budge. Sir Alex Ferguson gushed about Ann on Hearts TV

‘The job that Ann Budge has done has not only regenerated the club but it’s given everyone a lift in sense of the ambition is back in the club, they’re back in the Premier League.’
‘They’ve won the Championship by 20-something points, it’s a phenomenal number of points and I’m delighted for them. I’m really proud of the job that Ann Budge has done.’
‘I think it is onwards and upwards,’

Budge came in and raised quite a few eyebrows when she announced the departure of Gary Locke as Hearts manager. At the time it seemed extremely harsh on Locke who had been a terrific servant to the club and had usually worked with an arm tied behind his back due to previous regimes mismanagement of the football club.

But Ann Budge came in and was ruthless. She needed to be and her new management structure of Craig Levein as Director of Football and Robbie Neilson as Head Coach has been a masterstroke for Hearts this season.

I thought Levein would have been overly active in the press and within first team affairs but to be fair to the former Scotland boss he’s worked his role perfectly. He will no doubt give Robbie advice when asked but his main objectives seem to be providing Neilson with a good squad of players and to make sure all of the clubs footballing operations run smoothly. He has reached every goal in his debut season in that capacity.

Robbie Neilson has been tremendous with a squad full of young talent with a smattering of experienced pros too. The thirty-four year old ex-Scotland internationalist has taken to coaching like a duck to water and has been superb in preparing his roster of players.

This Hearts team play with little to no fear and play attacking and exciting football. Robbie has watched as his side cantered towards the league title, only suffering one league defeat in their opening twenty-nine fixtures. Already this season they have scored eighty-four times and they still have seven games remaining. The team have also only conceded eighteen times, a great feat for experienced goalie Neil Alexander.

Budge certainly knows that Robbie Neilson is a great Hearts boss in the making. After the title triumph she said this…

“Robbie is an intelligent young man and I hope he realises that staying with us a bit longer is exactly what he needs to really get his career moving.”

Obviously the players at Tynecastle deserve special credit too.

As I’ve mentioned Alexander has been in fine form in between the sticks. Captain Danny Wilson has been a rock in the heart of defence and will hope he can get back into the Scotland side next term.

Scottish youth players James Keatings and Jamie Walker have been superb, both netting eleven goals apiece in the Championship. Newsboys Genero Zeefuik and Osman Sow have been helping in front of goal too and are the kind of canny foreign buys that you’d associate with Levein.

To be fair the list of players that have impressed in a maroon jersey this season is pretty huge, almost never-ending!

To watch the club get over the recent financial meltdown and their relegation from the top flight has been superb. They have become more fan friendly, the supporters are rightfully at the heart of the club again. The clubs new direction is all about fairness and no room for reckless behaviour, that Vladimir Romanov was accused of during his era at the club’s helm.

Heart of Midlothian have a rich and deep history. That becomes ever more significant during the bad times and the sad times, like the death of club legend Dave Mackay, because the club rallies round and everyone supporters each other for the benefit of the football club and what it continues to stand for.

Yes running away with the Championship has been an amazing achievement. Beating Rangers and Hibs is of course wonderful for every Jambo.

But the biggest achievement, for me, is the simple fact that Hearts are still here, the whole club have come together and they are once again looking up and on to a brighter future!

One Response to “Saluting Hearts You’ve Runaway With The Championship”

  1. […] With Hearts having run away with the league this year, it was always going to come down to play-offs. Now it’s just a question as to whether they get the easier run in those play-offs or not. If they manage to finish up second in the league, they will only have to win two matches. It will be the winner of third place vs. fourth, and then, if successful, the eleventh-placed team in the Premiership. For them to finish second they will have to beat Hearts on the last day of the season and Hibernian will have to lose or draw against fifth-placed Falkirk. […]

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