Helping Hearts: A Bridge Too Far?

'Do not ask where Hearts are playing and then look at me askance. If it's football that you're wanting, you must come with us
to France!'

That famous quote was written by Sir George McRae, the man responsible for raising the volunteers of the 16th Battalion of the Royal Scots that fought in the First World War. That battalion famously included 13 players from Heart of Midlothian FC. Their feats in battle are quite rightly remembered by the Heart of Midlothian War Memorial situated near Haymarket station. This memorial funded by public subscription was erected in 1922 four years after the end of the Great War.

In remembrance week, Heart of Midlothian faces their greatest battle, simply to stay alive. 

It is all too easy to remember the words of their current owner Vladmir Romanov when he said of the Rangers situation, 'It had to happen sooner or later. Victories were achieved not by sporting merits, but through slander, conspiracies amongst players and their poaching via third parties, unfair pressuring of referees, who in themselves are as valuable to the fabric of football as the football stars themselves.'

These are not the words of a rational man, and given Hearts plight I would go on to suggest they were part of “a
deflect and deny campaign” much loved of all football chancers. Rangers were bought by a complete lunatic and
that is why I have sympathy and even empathy.

There was not an outcry of support on the phone ins or on the internet from Hearts supporters showing sympathy for Rangers, ironically in the same interview Romanov did express sympathy with the Rangers fans. 

However as we know from bitter experience, there is a very vocal minority who ramp up the agenda with their vitriolic hatred of anything to do with Rangers and that leaves a silent majority without a voice.

I’m sure you all know a Hearts supporter, probably we are friends with the said supporter, and you will know many
Rangers fans share many of the traditional values that the majority of Hearts fans do.

As we know from experience it is easy to kick a team when it’s down but we have a shared history with Hearts not only from a shared value point of view but also the number of players that have graced Ibrox and Tynecastle and become legends at both. 

Alex McDonald and Sandy Jardine should have led Hearts to their first championship since 1969 in 1986, but didn’t due to Albert Kidd and some unsurprising sloppy defending by St Mirren. Neil McCann, Willie Johnston, Dave McPherson (I’ll gloss over Andy
Webster) all contributed much to the glory of Rangers and also Hearts. There are others long forgotten by most but the statisticians, but the train from Waverley to Queen Street, and vice versa, has been kept busy for years.

We can help Hearts in the short term and we should. Rangers Football Club have to start leading from the front in Scottish football again, build bridges and determine to be the Club every other club aspires to be once again. The club of Bill Struth when he said “we
welcome the chase” 

Imagine the press coverage throughout Europe that Rangers have gone out of their way to help a team whose questionable owner tried to condemn them to the history books. In addition, goodwill from Hearts supporters and, in the political football of Scottish football, an ally for life?

I propose a benefit match at Tynecastle with gate receipts split. Half the gate money to Poppy Scotland, rightly remembering Rangers and Hearts players and supporters who have fallen in action and half to Heart of Midlothian supporters
association to help them through their current situation.

I am certainly not suggesting that as the house of cards continues to fall, we continually have benefit matches but we must start building bridges and to do it with a club like Hearts, this isn’t a bridge too far.

Follow Graham on Twitter: @gazborangers

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