I was awoken, just before lunchtime, by the postman kicking the door in an effort to indicate his presence. I enquired, as he shoved a packet in my face, why he had not put it through the letterbox, it was big enough to take it. "I couldn't reach," he grunted, "And I knew you would be asleep, so there," The letterbox stands at eye level and he is six feet four! So my second sleep of the day was disturbed, and I was anxious it was disturbed for a good reason. It was! In my hand I held another tome from the prolific, yet strangely humble, author of good books, Mr Mike Smith! This time the work concerned the Heart of Midlothian, featuring fifty (only) of their greatest games! A smart cover, a solid hardback that fits nicely into the hand, full of historical fact, written in a concise yet highly readable manner, excellent photographs, I canny wait!
From the foreword by Hearts great John Robertson, through over a hundred years of top games Mike Smith takes us into the heart of what it means to be a supporter of the Heart of Midlothian. Those who support clubs where money is no object fail to comprehend the reality of football supporting. The real fan rejoices with each victory but hurts with each loss. The Heart of Midlothian fan hurts often! Being reared on the mighty Hearts side of the fifties that swept all before it I attended my first game to see the remnants of that glorious side thrash Airdrieonians by six goals to one, I thought it would always be like this! I watched us struggle to win the next game, versus Raith Rovers, and was given an understanding of reality a week or so later when relegation bound Queen of the South defeated us by one goal to nil. Reality said life is not perfect, and the heart of the Heart of Midlothian fan contains much cynicism! It still does......
However the bright spots in such a life are indeed brighter for the fan of the Heart of Midlothian than for those 'prawn sandwich eaters' that follow cash rich giant clubs with no heart. Indeed the book mentions how the Hearts victory over Kilmarnock in the 1962 League Cup Final (a game my father would not let me attend because of 'the crowds' Bah Humbug!) was the last major trophy to reach Tynecastle Park until that marvelous day in 1998 when Stephan Adam slotted home the winner and ended forty years of pain by bringing the Scottish Cup back home. (Excuse me while I wipe away tears, I'm so happy!!!)
From the first cup final win over Dumbarton, to the double victories over Hibernian, by three goals to one in 1896, and by five goals to one in 2012 (and we all know it ought to have been double that score) through night games versus Lokomotiv Leipzig and Bayern Munich, via the destruction of Celtic by Rene Mollar and comrades that damp November in '69 (a game I well remember) this book speaks the language of the Heart of Midlothian, Edinburgh's Premier Football Team! Few teams have the record of 'Scotia's Darlings,' few have such an intellectual following, few can begin to compare with the Heart of Midlothian.
Mr Smith offers a glimpse into the Scottish psyche with this book, touching on Edinburgh's history and culture (try saying that about Leith!), on the desire of the fans for success, and their wary appreciation of how close disaster can be. None understand that like the cynics at Tynecastle! Fifty games here mentioned show however that this football team is indeed the 'Talk of the toon, ' and I claim that this book will stir the heart like no other. And that is 'No idle talk!'
One of the best heart of Midlothian books I have read!
Stop press! News has reached us that a Hibernian book along similar lines has been cancelled. They could not find fifty games worth mentioning.