The Rosebery Challenge Cup, Tommy Walker’s transfer form and a stuffed puffin – the history of Heart of Midlothian Football Club is nothing if not eclectic.
Fans of the Tynecastle side will have the opportunity to take a walk through history after the club open their official museum to the public tomorrow.
The museum, believed to be the first of its kind in Scotland, charts the history of the club through a rare collection of items from its foundation to the present day.
It’s the end of a year-long project, with volunteers and club historians working alongside curator Caroline Mathers to create what she describes as a “social history” of the club.
“We wanted this to involve the community and represent everything the club stands for,” she said.
“That’s why we involved our team of volunteers, we wanted to collect stories of the club’s history from people who were there to experience it.
It moves right through our entire history from the conception of the clubCAROLINE MATHERS
“It moves right through our entire history from the conception of the club, to the story of McCrae’s Battalion during the First World War, to our period of success in the 1950s right up to modern times.
“It was really important for us that, as fans move through the sections, they’re either going to know something or learn something.”
A collection of rare memorabilia from the club’s “decade of success” in the late 40s to early 50s includes Tommy Walker’s transfer form from Chelsea to Hearts in 1948, as well as the strip belonging to Willie Bauld, one of the “terrible trio” forward line along with Alfie Conn and Jimmy Wardhaugh which terrorised defences throughout the decade.
The touring section features a number of fascinating stories about pre-season matches abroad in the likes of the US.
David Allan, one of the museum’s volunteers, said the likes of Bauld made Hearts an attraction stateside during that period.
“In 1958 Hearts and Man City were invited on a joint tour in the US to promote ‘soccer’ – we beat them 6-5 for the Empire State Cup,” he said.
“A year later we were back out there with Man United. It’s something that’s just not even remotely plausible nowadays.”
For younger fans, a display case features signed boots of Czech star Rudi Skacel as well as the shirt of Mehdi Taouil from the 2012 Scottish Cup final victory over Hibs.
“It’s tempting for someone who’s never curated a museum to just open a cupboard, look at everything and then stick it on the shelves,” said Caroline.
“We didn’t want to do that, everything we did had to have a story, it all had to be connected to the themes of the club and what we were trying to create.”
Some of the more unusual items on display include a taxidermied puffin presented to club officials by Icelandic side IBV when the two sides met in the qualifying round of the Uefa Cup in 2000.
Entry to the museum is free, with opening times on matchdays from 10am-12pm.