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!


  1. I'm not old enough to remember those days, but my grandfather does.....

  2. Graham, as a small boy, did you not witness Hibs parading the Scottish Cup along Princes Street?

  3. A player way before my time too, but enjoy the tales about him like this.

    Maybe just me but seeing photos of him I always thought he oozes coolness!

  4. Welcome, Gary. By the way there's no such thing as an average Hearts fan!

  5. '73... the year I was born ;-)