Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Ralph Callachan

There aren’t many players who play significant roles for both Hearts and Hibernian. However, one who did three decades ago is still fondly remembered by supporters of both clubs. Ralph Callachan grew up a Hibby but it was for Hearts that he signed as a sixteen year old in September 1971 from Tynecastle Boys Club. A precocious talent, the midfield player made his Hearts first team debut less than three years later. It was in season 1974-75 that Callachan made a big impression at Tynecastle despite the club struggling in the league and cups. He was a class act in a Hearts midfield that struggled at times but his subtle skills perfectly complemented the more aggressive talents of the likes of Drew Busby.

Hearts were fighting against relegation in April 1976 and I recall a sublime performance from the Edinburgh born youngster that was instrumental in Hearts recording a fine 3-0 victory over Aberdeen at Pittodrie on a pleasant spring evening. Hearts escaped demotion due in no small part to this result but the following season were again involved in a relegation fight. However, fans could scarcely believe it when Callachan was sold to Newcastle United for £90,000 in February 1977. It was a decision that blew away Hearts chances of survival.

Callachan’s stay on Tyneside was a brief one and eighteen months later, he returned to Edinburgh to sign for the team he followed as a boy as part of a deal that took Hibernian legend John Brownlie to St. James Park. He was to enjoy eight impressive seasons at Easter Road and in 1979 played against Rangers in the Scottish Cup Final. Sadly, like his only other Scottish Cup Final appearance - for Hearts in 1976 also against Rangers - he was to end up with a loser’s medal. After a spell with Edinburgh’s third team in 1986 - Meadowbank Thistle - Callachan became player-manager of Berwick Rangers.

Callachan later ran a pub with Hibs team-mate Jackie McNamara and in 2006 was giving his opinion to the media on that season’s Edinburgh derby Scottish Cup semi-final (which Hearts won 4-0 in case anyone needs reminding…) Today, Ralph Callachan is a taxi driver in Edinburgh and remains a frequent visitor to Easter Road.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

The Gloves Are Off

Three weeks before Christmas I was supping a pint or three of foaming ale in the company of a Hibs fan. He is as passionate about Edinburgh’s lesser team as I am about Hearts and we meet regularly to put the world to rights although as the night wears on I do tend to find his oft-repeated assertion that Hibernian taught Pele and his fellow Brazilians how to play football just a tad weary. However, he also told me a story about how a Hibs legend - if that’s not an oxymoron - namely Pat Stanton had never forgiven Easter Road manager Eddie Turnbull for transferring him to Celtic in 1976. Admittedly, several pints had been consumed by this point but as Stanton’s passion for Hibs is legendary in Leith it was a story I just couldn’t dismiss as ramblings of a drunken old Hibby. Moreover, it brought home to me just how football has changed over the decades.

The following evening I watched the BBC’s excellent Match of the Day programme and watched the two sides of Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez. Now I’m not implying the Argentinean is overweight; rather there was the sublime side when he scored a fine goal against Bolton Wanderers followed by the ridiculous when he displayed considerable anger towards his manager Roberto Mancini on being substituted in the second half. A week later, he handed in a transfer request. Not only that but Tevez was one of several players featuring in the programme wearing what appeared to me to be a cravat around his neck - apparently the snood is a recent ‘accessory’ among modern players to keep warm, as if woolly gloves wasn’t enough.

Those of you who regularly read my ramblings in the match day programme might not be surprised to read I’m very much an old school fella. Perhaps it’s just me but footballers seemed a much tougher breed in decades gone by. Tackles and challenges would fly in from all directions without as much as a booking, merely a stern look from the referee. More often than not, the player on the receiving end of such a tackle would simply note who committed the act and exact suitable vengeance later in the game, out of the vision of the referee. Nowadays yellow and red cards are brandished for what seems like minimal physical contact. Players wearing snoods and gloves might as well have a sign on their shirts stating ‘please don’t touch me, I’m a fragile sensitive soul so please permit me to run to your goal unhindered’

Older Hearts fans who fondly remember the likes of Drew Busby would laugh at the very idea of ‘Der Bomber’ wearing gloves or something round his neck to keep him warm. Busby, like the late, great, Jim Cruickshank, was also of the breed of player who put the team first before any personal gain. Apart from brief spells at Queens Park and Dumbarton which book ended his long career, Cruicky spent his long playing career at Tynecastle. Similarly, Jim Jefferies spent most of his playing career at the club he supported as a boy and most of his success as a manager has come at the club that means so much to him.

Some of the attitudes that prevail today sadden me. In Aberdeen last month, the local newspaper carried a report that stated that three unnamed Aberdeen players had spoken of their delight that Mark McGhee had been sacked as manager of The Dons. The inference was that some of the team’s lacklustre performances of late had been down to the players unhappiness with the manager (although The Dons performance in their 5-0 drubbing at Tynecastle suggested a more serious malaise) Surely players ought to play for their club with pride and professionalism and put any differences they have with the manager aside when they run on to the field of play?

Similarly, those players who publicly declare they no longer want to play for their country dismay those of us who believe representing your country is the highest honour a footballer could achieve. I think back to players like Archie Gemmill who, despite playing for Derby County at the time, drove his wife more than 200 miles to Paisley in order that his son would be born in Scotland. Gemmill, scorer of a wonder goal against Holland in the 1978 World Cup, even named his son Scotland (although he is more commonly known as Scot and like his father played football for his country)

I know we live in a different age now and the days of players devoting themselves to one club as Gary Mackay did in the 1980s and 90s have been consigned to the history books. Nevertheless, tales like the aforementioned Pat Stanton one do make me recall football in years gone by with more than a degree of affection. Having said all that are still some players today who remind me of the likes of Drew Busby and his ilk. However, if Kevin Kyle takes to the field any time soon wearing gloves and a snood, I will fear the game I grew up with has gone forever!

Monday, 20 December 2010

Three Decades Hence

Drew Busby in 1978

The more mature Hearts supporter will remember 1973. I was eleven years old then but remember the period as the decade style left behind. Glam Rock was in vogue. For the younger reader, ‘73 was a year when the likes of ‘Glam Rock’ stars such as Gary Glitter, Marc Bolan and T-Rex, Sweet and Mud dominate the music charts. The ‘hit parade’ as it was described with irritating cheerfulness by the likes of D.J’s Tony Blackburn and Noel Edmonds on ‘wonderful Radio One’, was full of it. Hearts Stadium announcer Scott Wilson will probably agree with my assertion there wasn’t much decent music to listen to until punk came long later in the decade.

The first day of 1973 saw one of the worst days in the history of Heart of Midlothian Football Club. Hibernian first-footed Tynecastle for the traditional Auld Reekie Derby. And won 7-0. The first time - and by God, it wouldn’t be the last - I cried at a football match. However, let’s move on.

Season 1973-74 promised to be a big one for Hearts. 1974 was the club's centenary year. Special presentations were made from clubs from all over the country as well as the SFA and Scottish League. Hearts made some major moves into the transfer market. Following the arrival of Kenny Aird from St Johnstone and John Stevenson from Coventry, manager Bobby Seith made an audacious attempt to sign the Airdrie duo of Drew Busby and Drew Jarvie who were proving a productive forward partnership. In the end, Seith managed to sign just one of the Drews - Busby - while Jarvie headed north to Aberdeen. Another new arrival at Tynecastle was winger Bobby Prentice from Celtic and it was a revamped Hearts side that began season 1973-74 hoping to mark one hundred years with a long-awaited trophy.

When Hearts met Hibs in September, an indication of the sweeping changes made at Tynecastle was illustrated by the fact that only four of the Hearts team that began the New Year mauling started the rematch nine months later. Youngsters Sneddon and Cant as well as newcomers Busby, Stevenson and Prentice were all sampling their first taste of an Edinburgh derby and their youthful innocence seemed to be a major factor in how the game would unfurl.

A crowd of almost thirty thousand created a frantic atmosphere and the game kicked off with Hearts looking the more confident side. Busby and Ford were already looking to have forged a meaningful partnership and there was plenty of width with both Aird and Prentice foraging down the flanks. Hearts opened the scoring after twenty minutes. Youngster Jim Jefferies floated a cross into the Hibs penalty box. Hibs goalkeeper McKenzie, misjudged the flight of the ball and in the ensuing confusion, Hibs fullback Erich Schaedler headed into his own net after a desperate attempt to clear the danger.

The maroons had looked confident enough from the start but this goal merely gave another surge to the adrenaline. Hibs were forced to back-pedal as Donald Ford and Drew Busby came close with Jim Jefferies proving to be an unlikely threat with his crosses. The only thing missing from a polished first-half performance from Hearts was further goals but half time arrived with the maroons well on top. Further goals did arrive after the interval - three of which occurred within as many minutes! In fifty-four minutes, Kenny Aird set off down the right wing with the Hibs defence chasing. At the edge of the penalty box, the former St Johnstone man fired in a shot that slipped under the body of keeper McKenzie and into the net for 2-0 and the Hearts support went wild. Aird had promised much since his arrival at Tynecastle and scoring against the Hibees saw him crowned a hero by an ecstatic home support.

The celebrations were still in full swing when, seconds later, Hibs moved to the other end of the park and pulled a goal back. The ball was fired in to the Hearts goalmouth where keeper Kenny Garland and youngster Jimmy Cant decided to leave it for each other allowing Alex Cropley to flick the ball into net to make the score 2-1. Now it was the turn of the Hibs fans to celebrate - but not for long.

For, incredibly, Hearts restarted and headed straight for McKenzie in the Hibs goal. This time it was the turn of youngster John Stevenson to run at the Hibs defence and his pace took him past a startled Hibs back four. McKenzie brought the ex-Coventry player to a halt but merely succeeded in teeing the ball up for Donald Ford who thrashed the ball into the net to make it 3-1 and send the Hearts support delirious once more.

Ford and Busby proceeded to wreak havoc and twice Hearts hit the crossbar as Hibs tried manfully to stem the maroon tidal wave. McKenzie redeemed himself for his earlier mistakes by producing some fine saves as Hearts fans demanded their side go for the kill. With just ten minutes to go Hearts did get the fourth goal their play so richly deserved. Thirty yards out the man with one of the most fearsome shots in Scottish football - Drew Busby - let fly with a screamer. McKenzie's day of misery was complete when he allowed the ball to squirm under his body and into the net. 4-1 for Hearts and Busby had opened his Tynecastle account in the best possible manner.

The scoring ended at 4-1 and the maroon half of Tynecastle loudly acclaimed their side at the final whistle. Not quite full revenge for the events of New Years Day. Nevertheless, in a year and indeed a decade in which not a lot went right, it was a day Hearts fans cherished!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Heart of Midlothian 1 Inverness Caledonian Thistle 1

Clydesdale Bank SPL, Saturday 18 December 2010 - Ice Station Tynecastle

Something had to give. Prior to this game Hearts had won six SPL games in a row; Caley Thistle were unbeaten away from home in league football for more than  a year. Somewhat inevitably the game ended in a  draw although, in my naturally unbiased opinion, Hearts did everything but win the game. Apart from a strangely lethargic opening spell when the visitors capitalised by taking the lead in the 17th minute through a Grant Munro header, the maroons dominated the game but proceeded to miss chance after chance.

Shortly after Caley Thistle's opener, Hearts equalised when visiting goalkeeper Ryan Esson felled Stephen Elliott in the penalty box. Penalty said referee Brian Winter - which was about the only decision he gave the home side all afternoon - but only a yellow card for Esson. Kevin Kyle duly tucked away the penalty kick - his first league goal at Tynecastle since signing from Kilmarnock in the summer.

Thereafter Hearts dominated proceedings and there was a sublime piece of skill from gifted youngster David Templeton when he rattled the post with a 25 yard effort. I haven't been as excited about a Hearts player since the days of Neil McCann - Temps even drew plaudits from ICT boss Terry Butcher.

Templeton, Rudi Skacel, Kyle and Ryan Stevenson all had chances to win the game for Hearts - but they didn't take them. The game ended 1-1, a result that undoubtedly delighted the visitors given that was what they came to Scotland's capital city for. After winning six games in a row Hearts fans had perhaps become greedy but given neither Celtic or Rangers have managed to defeat the Highlanders at home this season, this disappointment can be overcome. Certainly Caley Thistle offered far more resistance than Aberdeen did a week earlier and Terry Butcher has done a fine job in reshaping the team.

Hearts are now two points behind Celtic - having played two games more. Perhaps talk of splitting the Old Firm was a tad premature

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Football Can Be Cruel

On Saturday Hearts thrashed Aberdeen 5-0. The Dons are going through a bad spell just now - it’s just over a month since The Dons lost 9-0 to Celtic on a dark November afternoon in the east end of Glasgow. Having lived in the Granite City many years ago I still have a few friends in the north-east and I can’t deny I sent numerous texts to some of them that Saturday evening as well as last weekend. As is the way with football fans you would be correct in surmising these texts weren’t of the supportive nature and sending the contact details of the local branch of The Samaritans didn’t go down too well in some quarters.

I actually spent the Saturday afternoon of the 9-0 debacle in the company of an Aberdeen fan - namely my dear old mum. With her health not what it once was she moved from Aberdeen to Edinburgh three and a half years ago in order that she could be closer to me but her affinity to the Dons has not diminished - if anything, it’s strengthened. We sat in her sheltered accommodation flat and watched the BBC’s football results service via the ‘red button’ on her digital television. Once Paul Hartley also pressed ‘red’ and was sent off, the floodgates inevitably opened and my mother watched news of the goals being scored at Celtic Park through fingers covering her eyes.

It was the nature of the afternoon that she was cruelly denied even a brief flicker of hope. Celtic were 4-0 ahead early in the second half when the score flashed on the screen of Celtic 4 Aberdeen 1 - scorer Macgennis. I tried to instil some hope to my mother by saying the comeback was on - after all didn’t a certain team from Edinburgh lose a 6-2 lead earlier this year? Sadly, before she had a chance to respond the screen changed again. This time the score read Celtic 6 Aberdeen 0 - it transpired that the goal Macgennis had scored wasn’t for Aberdeen - it was an own goal. Moreover, by the time the BBC had realised their mistake a now rampant Celtic had scored again. This compounded my poor mother’s misery which rapidly descended into anguish when the seventh, eighth and ninth goals went in.

This little bit of drama reminded me of a couple of occasions when I’ve been at a game where all wasn’t quite as it seemed. Curiously, both those games involved Hearts and Aberdeen. Back in the mists of time at the beginning of season 1976/77, Hearts played the first league game of the season at Pittodrie. I was fourteen at the time and, for reasons I no longer care to remember, I arrived at the ground a couple of minutes after kick-off. There was the usual large Hearts support behind the goal but as the game was just minutes old, I didn’t think to ask if there had been any scoring yet. Aberdeen scored after just five minutes and when home favourite Davie Robb added a second with just five minutes to go I thought that was it. However, Hearts Donald Park scored a couple of minutes later - small consolation I thought. When the final whistle blew, I made for the exits with a heavy heart - until I heard a fellow Jambo say that a 2-2 draw at Aberdeen wasn’t a bad start to the season. It transpired I had missed Drew Busby’s opening goal in the first minute and therefore believed Hearts had lost the game. I learnt two lessons that day - firstly make damn sure you get to the game on time and secondly, if you don’t just ask someone the score.

The other occasion was circa 1992 when Hearts entertained The Dons at Tynecastle. I sat in the company of one of the infamous Mrs Smith’s relatives in the old enclosure. He was - and still is - an Aberdeen fan. Hearts went ahead through John Robertson but the visitors thought they had equalised only for the goal to be disallowed. As the referee was considering his decision, my in-law headed for the gents - unaware the goal was about to be chalked off for offside. When he returned, I was unaware that he was unaware the goal hadn’t stood. There was no further scoring and when the final whistle blew, he put his arm around my shoulder and said ‘well, I reckon 1-1 is a fair result’. It took a considerable effort by me to persuade him that Hearts had actually won the game 1-0...

Which proves, as Aberdeen discovered a few weeks ago in the east end of Glasgow, that football can be a cruel game.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Heart of Midlothian 5 (five) Aberdeen 0

Clydesdale Bank SPL, Saturday 11 December 2010 - Tynecastle

Hearts produced arguably their best performance of the season to hammer a hapless Aberdeen side who did little to impress watching new manager Craig Brown. Two goals ahead inside eight minutes, Hearts proceeded to tear The Dons to shreds and with a bit more clinical finishing may well have matched Celtic's tally of nine goals against Aberdeen last month.

The highly talented David Templeton - who, as a schoolboy was on Aberdeen's books - showed great determination to squeeze the ball over the line for the opener in four minutes. A superb driven effort from Rudi Skacel four minutes later doubled the lead as Hearts threatened to overrun the visitors. Skacel, Templeton and Kevin Kyle went close to adding to the score in the first half. The only moment of irritation from a Hearts point of view was when referee Mike Tumilty booked Rudi Skacel for taking a free kick before he had blown his whistle. A decision which was even more ridiculous when it wasn't Skacel who took the kick - it was Ian Black who also got booked for trying to show the hapless Tumilty the error of his ways.

The second half followed the same pattern as the first. Hearts scored another two early goals through the hard working Stephen Elliott and Rudi Skacel before substitute Novikovas scored a fine individual effort with twelve minutes left. Calum Elliot and Skacel again should have scored in one of the most one-sided Hearts-Aberdeen games I can remember seeing in more than forty years.

Hearts have now won five games in a row, scored thirteen goals and have conceded none. They are the form team in the SPL - and are now just six points behind Celtic. However, Motherwell - the team Craig Brown has just left - will provide a sterner test at Fir Park on Tuesday evening. Aberdeen? I can't recall The Dons being so poor. However, I suspect Craig Brown will turn things around - given time.

In the meantime I may pay a visit to the site of fellow blogger - and Aberdeen fan - Kenfitlike..

Friday, 10 December 2010

Always in Our Hearts

Someone once said that middle age is the time when we reflect on our lives the most. We think back to what we have achieved - or not - and wonder what we still have to offer. As a Hearts supporter in his late forties, I have been reflecting recently on the passing of some of my heroes of years gone by. Heroes who I watched play for my team when I was growing up. Jim Cruickshank, whose passing we all mourned last month, was one of those heroes.

Cruickie, like Donald Ford, Alan Anderson and Drew Busby, was synonymous with Hearts in my formative years that were the 1970s. I saw my first Hearts game when I was six years old, towards the end of 1968 at Falkirk’s Brockville Park. Cruickie was playing that day as were Donald Ford and Alan Anderson and it was on that afternoon that I was bitten by the Jambo bug. All things maroon influenced my childhood, my teenage years and even as a young man. I agree with Jim Jefferies when he said people referred to Jim Cruickshank simply as ‘The Goalie’. Years later this would be the moniker given to Andy Goram but to me and thousands of my generation there was only one ‘goalie’ - the man who was number one at Tynecastle in more ways than one.

Cruickie was Hearts through and through. Sure, he fell out with the club on more than one occasion but he was a man who stood up for what he believed in. Kenny Garland challenged him for the number one spot at Tynecastle for many years but, with the greatest respect, Cruickie was the fans favourite.

2010 has been a year when we also lost Bobby Kirk, Malcolm Robertson and former manager John Hagart. Kirk was a mainstay of the glorious Hearts team that swept all before them in the 1950s. His final game for Hearts came just three months after I was born but I know some older Hearts fans who still remember Kirk with a lot of affection. He was part of Hearts greatest ever team.

Malky Robertson came to Hearts at the time when the club were struggling both on and off the field. The man from Ayr United would delight us with his runs down the wing and his tormenting of defences. Sadly, Malcolm Robertson’s time in Gorgie coincided with Hearts fall from grace in Scottish football and a yo-yo period between the Premier and First Divisions. However, I remember his displays with affection and news of his death a few months ago at just 59 made me ask why some people have to be taken away from us so early.

Robertson was signed by John Hagart early in 1977. John passed away in June this year and there was no one more passionate about Hearts than he. He was the manager when Hearts finally succumbed to the pressures of the new ten team Premier Division and were relegated for the first time in their history in 1977. Those of us who frequented Tynecastle at that time were devastated by this turn of events but no one felt the anguish more than Hagart. He resigned in the immediacy of Hearts demotion. The story goes that Hearts wanted him to carry on as his experience and infectious enthusiasm for the game would be just what Hearts required for immediate promotion. Nevertheless, John Hagart was a man of integrity and he left Tynecastle.

Hearts as a club is very much a family affair. The passing of men who have served the club with distinction is keenly felt by those who support the club. We mourned the tragically early deaths of Eddie Thomson, Bobby Robinson and going back a few years Brian Whittaker, Arthur Mann, Roald Jensen and Willie Bauld among others. This is the time of the year when we tend to look back on the twelve months that have gone by. 2010 will be remembered as a year when Hearts were resurgent under the superb leadership of Jim Jefferies and Billy Brown. Sadly, 2010 will also be remembered as the year when a Hearts legend of the 1950s, Bobby Kirk and three Hearts icons of the 1970s - John Hagart, Malcolm Robertson and now Jim Cruickshank - passed away. Those of us who grew up with them will not forget their contribution to a footballing institution.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Colin Cameron

A mainstay of perhaps the best Hearts side of the past forty years was Kirkcaldy born Colin Cameron. ‘Mickey’ as he was affectionately known to Hearts fans began his career with his home town team Raith Rovers as a sixteen year old in 1988. An attacking midfield player, Cameron was instrumental in the Fife club’s famous League Cup final triumph over Celtic in 1994 that led Rovers to a memorable UEFA Cup tie with Bayern Munich the following season.

Jim Jefferies brought Cameron to Tynecastle in March 1996 in a £400,000 deal that saw John Millar head to Starks Park. Cameron was a huge success and quickly became a favourite with the Gorgie faithful after making his maroon debut in a 2-0 win over Rangers in April 1996. However, it was the following season ‘Mickey’ really established himself. His skill in linking midfield to attack was a joy to behold and this was a feature of Hearts memorable 1997/98 season when they lifted the Scottish Cup and ran the Old Firm close in the league. Cameron scored Hearts opening goal from the penalty spot in the Scottish Cup Final of 1998 when the maroons lifted the famous old trophy to bring silverware to Gorgie for the first time in thirty-six years.

Cameron’s form for Hearts was recognised by his country and he won the first of his twenty-eight caps for Scotland in Germany in April 1999 when the Scots recorded a rare but memorable win over the Germans.

Hearts struggled somewhat in the season that followed the cup triumph. The fact Cameron missed a fair chunk of the season through injury was a major factor especially when you consider that when he returned to the team in the spring Hearts rediscovered their form and rose up the table once more. Cameron continued to bang in the goals and he scored sixteen in season 2000/01. Inevitably, other clubs noticed such form and in August 2001, Cameron joined Wolverhampton Wanderers for a fee of £1.75m.

Cameron displayed the same tenacity and will to win at Molineux as he had at Hearts and Raith Rovers. Indeed, Wolves never lost a match in which he scored. He was part of the Wolves team that secured promotion to the FA Premiership in 2003. When Glen Hoddle took over as Wolves manager after their demotion the following season it was the beginning of the end for Mickey’s time in the Black Country and he moved to Coventry City on a free transfer in 2006. His spell at City wasn’t a great success and after a spell at MK Dons, Cameron returned to Scotland and signed for Dundee in July 2008. However, he was troubled by a knee injury and when Jocky Scott took over at Dens Park the aim was to try to get Mickey back to full fitness. After a loan spell at Arbroath, Cameron returned to Dundee but injuries continued to take their toll and he was released at the end of season 2009/10.

Today, at the age of 38, Colin Cameron is a UEFA qualified coach and combines his playing with his role as assistant manager to Jimmy Nicholl at First Division Cowdenbeath.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Moonlighting McGhee?



Perhaps the real reason Mark McGhee was sacked as Aberdeen manager is that he's been moonlighting in Coronation Street as Ken Barlow's son...

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Andy Watson

Season 1983/84 was a successful one for Hearts. They had completed their first season back in the Premier Division and had not only avoided relegation thereby ending the yo-yo syndrome they had become synonymous with, they qualified for the UEFA Cup the following season. When one of the mainstays of that side, Davie Bowman, was sold to Coventry City in 1984, there was disappointment among some Hearts fans. However, manager Alex MacDonald paid £70,000 of Bowman’s transfer fee to Leeds United to secure former Aberdeen midfielder Andy Watson.

The Aberdonian made his Hearts debut in a 1-0 win over Greenock Morton just after Christmas 1984. He was a regular in the Hearts midfield in the mid 1980s alongside Kenny Black and Gary Mackay. His first goal for Hearts came, ironically, at the ground he had spent his formative years - Pittodrie - as Hearts came from 2-0 down to grab a 2-2 draw against the Dons in February 1985.

Season 1985/86 was a momentous one for Hearts who embarked on a long unbeaten run in the league and manager MacDonald was loathe to change a winning team. Watson was very much a peripheral player that season and while he made more first team appearances, the following season it became evident Watson would be behind players such as Mackay, Black and Iain Jardine when it came to patrolling Hearts midfield.

Watson became one of the few players to move across Edinburgh when he joined Hibernian for £30,000 in 1987. However, his career at Easter Road was similar to his one at Tynecastle. He began coaching the Hibs youngsters before joining his old Aberdeen team mate Alex McLeish at Motherwell in 1994 where he was appointed Big Eck’s assistant manager. It was a partnership that was to prove successful and he returned to Easter Road when McLeish was appointed Hibs manager four years later. The pair transformed Hibs from a First Division side to SPL challengers and their achievement was recognised by Rangers where Watson joined McLeish in 2001.

The duo spent five successful years at Ibrox before answering the call of the nation, Watson assisting McLeish as Scotland manager at the beginning of 2007. After ten months, McLeish left the Scotland job to take charge of FA Premiership side Birmingham City - and inevitably took Watson with him.

Today, Andy Watson is still assisting Alex McLeish at St. Andrews as they strive to make Birmingham City an established FA Premiership side.