Friday, 25 April 2014

Sandy Jardine

Sandy Jardine, a man forever associated with the rebirth of Heart of Midlothian FC in the 1980s, has died, 18 months after being diagnosed with cancer. He was 65.

Jardine was brought to Tynecastle by his close friend and then Hearts manager Alex MacDonald in 1982 and the former Rangers and Scotland defender was instrumental in shaping Hearts as a major force in Scottish football.

Many people, including those at Rangers where he had played with distinction for 17 years, thought that his best days were behind him when he moved back to his home city to join Hearts, the team he followed as a boy. However, Jardine proved everyone wrong and would be a key player for Hearts for another five years, his experience and knowledge of the game helping the development of youngsters such as Gary Mackay and John Robertson and, in particular, Craig Levein. The big Fifer who would go on to manage Hearts and Scotland, certainly had the hallmarks of Jardine at his best.

Jardine was initially assistant to MacDonald but his influence was such that then Hearts chairman Wallace Mercer appointed Jardine joint manager in 1986 – the year forever associated with heartache for Hearts as they lost the league title in the last eight minutes of season 1985/86 with a 2-0 loss at Dundee. Jardine’s major contribution to that team, which also reached the Scottish Cup final that year, was such that he was named Scotland's player of the year for the second time at the age of 37. In the aftermath of that traumatic game at Dens Park - the 28th anniversary of which is next Saturday - there were no excuses from either MacDonald or Jardine; no blaming the referee, no ranting or condemnation. They accepted what happened with dignity and that was Sandy Jardine all over.

There was a real sense of shock when Jardine left Hearts in 1988, chairman Wallace Mercer declaring that 'two hands on the tiller simply wasn't working'. Although Hearts enjoyed a decent run in the Uefa Cup during season 1988/89, it's fair to say Alex MacDonald struggled without his right hand man.

In a statement on Friday, Hearts offered their condolences to Jardine’s family saying they were deeply saddened at the death of a club legend.

The saying goes that only the good die young. Sandy Jardine epitomised everything good about football and his contribution to Hearts will never be forgotten.

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