Hearts fans fly in from across the globe for jolly jamboree

Young fans celebrate
Young fans celebrate
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JASON Newell flew in from Zurich, Robert Weir came from Estonia and John Hunter Jnr made the 7000-mile round trip from his Toronto home.

During their long flights back to their homeland their imaginations may have wandered, but a 5-1 demolition of their greatest rivals was truly the stuff of dreams.

Before the game, the 150 Jambos who temporarily turned Hillpark Bowling Club in south Glasgow into a Gorgie colony agreed on two things.

First, that Saturday’s final represented a defining moment in the rivalry between the two clubs who have been vying for supremacy for longer than any of them had lived.

Second, that if the cup was to come back to Gorgie, their boys were going to have to fight for it.

John, chairman of Orwell Hearts Supporters Club, was one of the 132,000 at Hampden in 1956 who saw the Tynecastle side put three past Celtic on one of the finest days in the club’s history, but even that couldn’t compare with the all-Edinburgh final.

“We’ve waited a long time for this one,” he said. “It’s doomsday, a line in the sand is going to be drawn. I think both sets of supporters have been living in dread. The build-up has been crazy.”

John spent the weekend in Edinburgh – with a short detour to Glasgow – after flying in from Canada on Friday. He said there was never any doubt that he would cross the Atlantic to be at Hampden.

“This is the biggest day in my Hearts- supporting life,” he said. “It’s unmissable.”

Robert, an ex-season ticket holder at Tynecastle and veteran of the 1998 cup final, was so desperate to get to the game that he booked flights from Tallinn before he had even secured a match ticket.

“Today will be a defining day for everybody in Edinburgh one way or another,” he said. “This is D-day.”

Football supporters know all too well that the form book goes out of the window on derby day, even without the added unpredictability of the cup.

And while they did not admit it, the nightmarish spectre of a Hibs win loomed ever larger as the minutes ticked by.

“I’m nervous, I won’t lie, I’ve been up since 6.30am,” admitted Dale Coll, while predicting a 3-0 win.

“I’ve been nervous since the semi-final,” added Larra Forrester.

By the time the fans trooped on to the buses for the short final leg of their trip to Hampden they were at fever pitch, with the nervous energy manifesting itself in raucous renditions of Tynecastle’s anthems.

But as the story played out on the pitch, the tension melted away into the Glasgow air as Hearts dominated and their rivals surrendered.

To speak to the jubilant Jambos as they flooded out of Hampden, you would almost believe them when they claimed to have never doubted that they would be leaving with the cup.

“I predicted 2-1, 5-1 is beyond my wildest dreams,” said Jason, who had flown to Edinburgh from Zurich to take his two boys to the game.

“It’s great to take them to something like this. It cost £400 to be here, it’s been worth every penny.”

Arthur Mitchell added: “The nerves were gone as soon as we were on the park and I saw how we were playing. It was something special.”

Malcolm Lunn said: “We know we’ll never play Hibs again in the cup final. My best friend’s a Hibs fan – I’ll have this over him for life.”

A delighted Danny Whelan said: “I may as well stop supporting Hearts. Nothing’s going to top that. Part of me almost feels sorry for Hibs – almost.”

It wasn’t only the fans in Glasgow who were basking in the triumph.

“It was the ultimate win,” said John McDonald. “My mum, Rita, will be pleased. She’s just turned 90 and only gave her season ticket up last year.

“She’s been watching the final on TV. It’s a day for all of the family.”