Fans plan new Hearts war memorial

Eric Milligan
Eric Milligan
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A NEW memorial to the Hearts players who fought and died in the First World War could be created outside Tynecastle.

Hearts supporters’ groups have come together to launch a bid to raise £60,000 for a new memorial to the famous “McCrae’s Battalion” or “footballer’s battalion”, which took part in the Battle of the Somme.

The 600 men that were part of the battalion included all 13 players in the Hearts first team of the time, which had been at the top of the table when they agreed to fight.

Now it is hoped that a statue, likely to take the form of a soldier with a football, can be created outside the club’s home ground to recognise the role the club’s staff played on the battlefield.

A group of fans have come together to raise money under the name of the 1914 Memorial Trust.

Steven Kilgour, vice-chairman of the new trust, said: “This was a unique team not only to Hearts but to Scottish history and this will be a lasting tribute to them. We don’t want a war memorial as such, but something to commemorate the actual team.”

The Hearts players that took part formed the backbone of the 16th Royal Scots, later dubbed the “footballer’s battalion”. The majority never returned.

Many players and officials from other clubs took the lead of the Hearts squad and signed up to the 16th Royal Scots. On the first day of the Battle of the Somme, three of the Hearts players were killed along with 21,000 others.

Gorgie councillor and former Lord Provost Eric Milligan said: “Every supporter in the world thinks there is something special and unique about their football club but I do not think there is any football club anywhere that has a story that surpasses the story of Heart of Midlothian Football Club.

“It stands unique in the world with a rich history that is not just about the football field but a lot more than that and those players that took part in the First World War are a big part of that.”

mblackley@edinburghnews.com