In previous blogs I’ve mentioned my uncle who captained Penicuik and so my first visit to Tynecastle was in April 1966: Penicuik Athletic 0 Bonnyrigg Rose 1. My old man had no interest in football but he had to take my brother and me along to see my uncle’s big night. In return we had to sit in the car eating crisps somewhere along Slateford Road as the menfolk got a few post-match pints. The record books show that Wilson scored for Bonnyrigg but I’ve no idea how much of a crowd were there.

My first experience of a Hearts game would be in October that year. The records show that it was a 1-1 draw with Rangers, with an 80th minute Alan Anderson goal cancelling out a strike from Jimmy Millar in 53 minutes, in front of 30000. Still in primary school, a bunch of us had travelled into town for this and I think we left early to buy sweets or something. We certainly weren’t all that interested in the game. Back in those days a bunch of lads used to come around the playground grabbing people and demanding “Herts or Rangers?” You knew they were all Jambos so you said “Herts” to avoid a kicking. No mention of any other teams. For a while I only knew two teams existed.

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Panorama from the Roseburn Stand which dates from 1995. On the left is Leitch’s 1919 Main Stand which is due to be demolished later this year

Looking back over the years I’ve not really been a lucky charm to Hearts. I didn’t go to Tynecastle all that often but a lot of the time they had a poor side anyway. It was easier to get to Easter Road and I saw a lot of European games there although I would never describe myself as a Hibs supporter.

The first Edinburgh derby I saw was in September 1967. I was now in first year and a crowd of us went behind the goals in the school end (McLeod St). We were supporting the Hearts that day in a crowd of 20773 although there was no segregation back then. Unfortunately Hearts got thumped 4-1. Tommy Traynor scored for the home team and Pat Quinn got a hat-trick according to the records. I’m pretty sure Jimmy O’Rourke scored as well. Hibs were to finish 3rd and Hearts 12th that season (out of 18) although Hearts did reach the cup final where they lost 3-1 to Dunfermline. I’ve stolen the programme image below from the fantastic London Hearts site.

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There were some decent crowds back then. The image below (origin unknown) shows the crowd spilling onto the pitch in March 1966 in a quarter final against Celtic (3-3). Apparently the attendance was 46965. That looks like Jock Stein in the foreground. I can remember a midweek replay with Rangers in 1968 in front of 44000 when a very late Donald Ford strike put Rangers out. The record is 53396 in 1932, again versus Rangers. You can also see the scoreboard which most grounds had at that time. You needed to buy a programme to match up the games to the letters.

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Another stand-out game I won’t get any thanks for mentioning- in 1976 I was playing amateur football and we hung around at Sighthill waiting for our game to start, flicking the vickies at all the Celtic buses passing en route to Tynie. However the ref cancelled our game so we nipped along the road to support the Hearts. With about half an hour gone Hearts were cruising, 3-1 up thanks to a Willie Gibson hat-trick, but inevitably Celtic won it, inspired by Kenneth Mathieson Dalglish and Daniel Fergus McGrain. I also saw a certain Alexander Chapman Ferguson scoring for Rangers in 1968 at the school end, and in 1990 I took my young son to his first game, a 1-1 draw with Paul Gascoigne’s Tottenham.

The following three images are from the Gorgie Road end, in 1993, in a Scottish Cup match against Jim Jefferies’ excellent Falkirk side.

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The cover over the Wheatfield terracing cost £32000 in 1959 following the sale of Dave Mackay to Tottenham for £32000
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The tenements in Gorgie Road once had a grandstand view
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The Main Stand (which famously had ‘beware of pickpockets’  signs) with the old Tynecastle High School

The following three images, all from 1991, have been unashamedly nicked off the internet so if anybody wants to claim credit please get in touch. I’ve no money so I’m not worth sueing…

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At the Gorgie End you can see the two vomitories or access tunnels. The toilets in there were not places you would take your mum

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As a raw youth I was unaware that the best days of my life were yet to come… I met my future missus and got into Highland football. In particular, Caley then ICT. ICT are famous for the night they won at Parkhead and coined the SuperCaleyGoBallistic slogan but that was a very nervous night for me as I had grown up knowing what Jock Stein’s Celtic teams could do to you even if you were two goals up with 3 minutes left.

Far more enjoyable was two years later when ICT were drawn to play Hearts away. Good old Ross County did us a favour in the previous round by meekly surrendering to Hearts and lulling them into a false sense of security as ICT were in Div 1, same as County.

On 26 January 2002, 2500 hairy-arsed Highlanders rolled into town and raised the roof of the Roseburn Stand in the pouring rain. Goals by Tokely, Wyness and Bagan gave Steve Paterson’s ICT side a fairly comfortable 3-1 win. At the end of the game the ICT fans celebrated to the strains of the Travis hit ‘Why Does it Always Rain On Me’.

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September 2004. Hearts 1 ICT 0. ICT’s first season in the Premier
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Hearty Harry, the centre of attention…

Coming right up to date now, a couple of images from the current season.

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March 2016: Hearts 2 ICT 0
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Feb 2016: Hearts 2 Hibernian 2 (photo by Jamie McQueen)

Hearts have been playing here since 1886 and Tynecastle has always been one of the best, traditional style football grounds in Scotland. Despite many obstacles to expansion, and recently having to play European ties at nearby Murrayfield, the Tynecastle experience is one that should never be lost.

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