Yesterday was a dramatic day for Hearts and it certainly wasn’t one I particularly enjoyed, for obvious reasons.
As anyone who has been reading my columns will be well aware, I wanted Gary Locke to remain as manager. I felt he had earned that right as a result of the way he had led the club through arguably its toughest ever season. For such a good Hearts man who has given so much for the club this past season, I was devastated for him that he wasn’t given longer in his dream job.
As supporters, we all have different opinions about what should and shouldn’t have happened yesterday. However, the important thing that we all have to remember is that we are not the people investing millions of pounds of our own money into the football club.
The only person who has done that is Ann Budge, who has ensured the survival of our club. Even though I don’t agree with some of the decisions that came to fruition yesterday, I have total trust in what Ann is trying to do. Having read her statement, I can relate entirely to where she is coming from. We have to appreciate the vision she has for the football club and back what she is trying to do.
The honesty and clarity in her statement has to be applauded because that is something the club has been missing for far too long now. Reading between the lines of the statement, it looks like there will probably be more changes to come at the football club and that’s an unfortunate thing for those who end up leaving, but it’s part and parcel of a change of ownership.
One of the changes I’d like to see concerns the academy. As anyone who knows me will testify, one of my big gripes about the club in recent years has been the amount of money we’ve invested in the youth set-up with so little return in terms of players who have come through and gone on to become established professional footballers.
That is one area that needs to improve under the new regime and I’m sure it will considering Craig’s involvement in the impressive youth set-up at Dundee United. At Tannadice, they’ve brought through players like Stuart Armstrong and one or two other exceptional young boys, who have been able to come into the Premiership and have a really significant effect on games compared to some of our youngsters who were originally far too lightweight for the demands of the top-flight. It might be that Craig decides to go back to his Dundee United connections for somebody to come in and work in our academy.
Football is a ruthless business and that was highlighted yesterday. The fact that, in addition to the management team, our three most experienced players were also let go shows that there has obviously been a lot of work going on in the background between Craig and Ann over the past six months or so.
On the face of it, losing Jamie Hamill, Jamie MacDonald and Ryan Stevenson will be a massive blow, but I would expect that measures will have been taken to ensure that these guys are replaced pretty swiftly. Make no mistake, these guys will take some replacing because they have been magnificent servants to the club, not only this year, but throughout their entire time.
They go with the best wishes of all the supporters, as does Gary Locke. While I’m delighted that, after all the pain of recent years, the club is finally back in safe hands, it was still horrible to see people like Gary Locke and his players endure the pain of leaving Tynecastle yesterday.