Watching ‘That Was The Team That Was’ the other night brought back a few memories and surprisingly, more of them were good than bad. The programme documented the story of the Hearts side’s exploits i
The one thing that hit home more than anything was how ‘close’ the fans were to the players back then. The scenes at the end of the cup final were unbelievable in the circumstances: pretty much the whole Hearts end (over 40,000) stayed on to applaud the team long after Aberdeen had paraded the cup. Indeed I’m sure I read somewhere that the Aberdeen manager Alex Ferguson told his players to leave the field earlier than they would have normally, as he felt they were ‘getting in the way’. The Hearts team had just lost the league championship and the cup final in the space of a week…….and here they were being treated like heroes, with each of them being carried by the fans from their team bus into the Caledonian Hotel when they returned to Edinburgh later that evening.
Why were they treated like heroes? Because they WERE heroes. Every one of them. After six games this was a team being touted for relegation – by the end of the season they had given Heart Of Midlothian Football Club the pride that had been lost after years in the wilderness and had captured the imagination of a country that always loves an underdog.
Team spirit was the key ingredient in ’86. There were no overpaid superstar players in the squad throwing strops at being on the bench or played out of position, just a group of honest, hard-working guys who bonded and played as hard as they could for each other. Not that there wasn’t talent in this team – several of them went on to become true Hearts greats, but any talent they did have was maximised due to the incredible workrate they had, a testament to the gruelling training routines devised by manager Alex MacDonald and his playing assistant, Sandy Jardine. This endeavor, coupled with the fact that the entire squad was Scottish, meant the fans could really relate to them and ultimately they turned out in their droves to back them.
Forget Dens. There were so many highlights that season: Sandy Clark losing his boo