THEY were used to playing under pressure in crunch matches, including cup finals and Edinburgh derbies, but nothing would have prepared them for the humiliation if they had lost to the women.
A group of Hearts Legends took on the Hearts Ladies team for the first time last night – but the years of experience won through and the veterans finished the game convincing 7-2 victors.
Among those playing for the Hearts’ Legends team was John Robertson, Henry Smith and Alan McLaren. Allan Preston was also among the group, and spoke of how last night’s game was his first with the Legends, since he retired from football 15 years ago.
He said: “I’ve had both of my hips replaced and tonight is my first game with the Legends.
“It’s great to be back and it’s great to be playing against such talented women.”
A cheer erupted as Jim Hamilton scored the first goal just minutes after kick off, and the girls became more determined to beat the football heroes.
John Robertson quickly followed with a second and later Scott Severin and Allan Lawrence added to the scoresheet.
Wrapped up in woolly hats and scarves to brave the sub-zero temperatures, hundreds of football fans descended on the 3G football pitch at Riccarton to watch the match. Among the players for the ladies team, who had an average age of 22, was Kara Kidd, Brogan Anderson and Ashley Carse – who scored the team’s first goal.
Ashley, 24, from Silverknowes, said: “It feels so good to have scored against some of the biggest names in Hearts football. We knew this game was going to be not only a challenge but tough for us.
“Our aim was to score against them, and that’s exactly what we did.”
This is the first time the Hearts’ Legends, who formed in 2008, have played against the women’s team.
Alan White, the Legends manager, said it marks a milestone as they hope to see all the clubs at Hearts working more closely together.
Alan, who was also playing in the match, said: “I think it’s safe to say the match was very much youth versus experience given the advancing years of all of the team.
“I’ve seen the Ladies team both train and play recently, and tonight they’ve been great. They keep the ball really well and have some excellent players.
“The amount of support has been great and it’s great to see the guys are still as switched on as they used to be.”
Among those eagerly watching the match was Hazel Robertson, the mother of one of the women players.
Hazel, from Kirknewton, said: “I think the girls are being taught a lesson by the Legends tonight, but they have done really well.”
Robbie Neilson, manager of Hearts Football Club, who was also watching from the sidelines added: “We’ve seen great energy from the game, it’s been fantastic for everyone. I wasn’t expecting as large a crowd.”
Jimmy Sandison, captain of Hearts’ Legends, insisted that if they had lost to the Ladies he wouldn’t have been “too disappointed” but it would have been a shame to stop their long unbeaten run.