My Team & I: Hearts


By Craig Cairns

Twitter: @Threeattheback


Why Hearts?

Quite a boring answer to this one unfortunately. My father is a Hearts supporter, therefore, I was brought up as one. As well as this, they are also my local team. I have lived in the west of Edinburgh for most of my life and attended Tynecastle High School, right next to the stadium.

Favourite Player?

When I was younger, everyone’s favourite player was, with very good reason, John Robertson. Never being one to go with the majority, mine was John Colquhoun. He was a small, tricky winger who could also be used through the middle.

I only really remember him from his second spell at Tynecastle but he was involved in one of my favourite Hampden experiences: The 2-1 semi-final win over Aberdeen in 1996. With minutes of the Aberdeen equaliser, and with only a few minutes remaining, he provided an unorthodox assist by pushing teammate Allan Johnstone into a header which beat Michael Watt in the Aberdeen goal to send Hearts into the final. Unfortunately, JC scored the only Hearts goal in a 5-1 defeat to Rangers in the final a month later and left the club with no major honours to his name.

Favourite Kit?

The 2005/06 home kit from Hummel comes close, as does the away shirt of the 1997/98 season, but my favourite is definitely the away kit of the 1995/96. Perhaps the reasons are more sentimental than aesthetic since it was the one that was worn in that semi-final victory over Aberdeen mentioned in the previous section. Pretty similar to this season’s away kit, it consisted of white and light blue stripes, along with maroon pin-stripes.

Worst thing about being a Hearts fan?

I really hurts me to say this but I really think the support lets the team down quite a lot. When I was growing up, the atmosphere at Tynecastle was excellent for the vast majority of matches. Maybe this is partly down to change in the set up of the stadium, or the fact that those in charge have made a point of splitting up folk who used to sit in certain sections together, but the major factor for me was the raised expectations after the 2005/06 season.

After finishing second in the SPL and winning the Scottish Cup in 2006, a lot of the Hearts support turned up to matches expecting us to win comfortably against what are perceived to be lower opposition. When this inevitably didn’t happen, some in the support were all too quick to lambast the team for it. The treatment of Calum Elliot, to pick one example, was pretty disgusting during the 2007/08 campaign.

Nowadays the atmosphere at Tynecastle only seems to anywhere near what it can be during matches against the Old Firm and Hibernian. It’s a shame since Tynecastle, on its day, is a match for any other in the country when it comes to atmosphere. I just wish that we could get back to the days when at almost every match the entire support got behind the side from start to finish, no matter the result or performance. I haven’t heard a rendition of “we’ll support you ever more!” for quite a while now.

Maybe this is indicative of football support in general across the United Kingdom and not just unique to Hearts but either way, I’m sure the team would benefit from a support that gets behind it through thick and thin.

Favourite game?

New Year derbies are always special occasions but the match on the 2nd January 2003 was extra special. Craig James had put Hibernian 3-2 with a minute remaining, followed by Grant Brebner forcing home the rebound of a saved Mixu Paatelainen penalty after a minute of injury time to make it 4-2.

At that point Tynecastle began to empty but for some reason, unbeknownst to myself and my mate that sat with me, we sat distraught rather than heading for exit. The Hearts fans that remained were made to witness one of the most incredible comebacks ever as substitute Graham Weir scored twice in the ninety-third minute to bring the scores back level.

It was without doubt the most incredible match I have ever witnessed, not just the most incredible Hearts match. If you watch the highlights, it still perplexes me to this day why Yannick Zambernardi hoofs the ball up the pitch after his side took centre at 4-3, rather than retaining possession. This gave Hearts the chance to level the scores, which they took. I feel honoured to have been one of the supporters that stayed behind that day. Never leave a match early!

Favourite Moment?

Without doubt it has to be the 1998 Scottish Cup win, the first time in forty-six years the Jambos had returned to Gorgie with the cup. I was fifteen years old at the time yet I indulged in a bit of a booze session that weekend. Gorgie was a street party that night and me and my mates were being invited into strangers’ houses for celebratory drink.

In all honesty, I didn’t enjoy the match that much. We were 1-0 up through a penalty awarded after thirty seconds but this just meant we had a lead to throw away. At 2-0 up I felt much more comfortable and remember screaming “we’ve done it!” However, a goal from Ally McCoist made it 2-1 and the nerves set in yet again. There was a moment when McCoist was fouled at the edge of the box, right on the line, by Davie Weir and it looked to me as if the referee was pointing to the spot. My heart sank but thankfully the referee was indicating that the offence took place outside the box and a free kick was awarded. We held out for the win and the crowd was sent into raptures as Dario G’s Carnival De Paris was blasted out over the tannoy. Hearing that song still sends shivers down my spine.

In excess of 200,000 people lined the streets of Edinburgh to see the cup paraded the next day as a few generations of Jambos witnessed their team bring home the Scottish Cup for the first time. It was the best weekend of my life.

View game highlights here

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