HEARTS fans welcomed “a new era for the club” today as they made their long-awaited return to Tynecastle.
17,000 loyal and passionate fans of the Edinburgh side were delighted to back after the multi-million-pound revamp of the main stand.
The club have not played at their home ground since July and have had to endure two delays to the opening of the structure, with four league matches switched to BT Murrayfield as workers frantically tried to make the stadium safe for the public.
Supporters were left wondering whether they would be able to attend today’s game all throughout last week after Hearts failed to obtain a safety certificate for their ground, but all the formalities were completed early yesterday morning, allowing the game to take place.
An opening performance by Indie band Frightened Rabbit and a pyrotechnics display added to the atmosphere ahead of kick-off, which was delayed by 15 minutes as huge queues waited to get in at the Wheatfield Stand.
The £12million-plus makeover marks another positive milestone for the club, which was facing going out of business when it went into administration four years ago.
The fans also endured relegation from the Scottish Premiership - a bitter pill to swallow.
But the atmosphere at Tyncastle was electric today, with supporters excited for a bright future following the opening of their new stand.
Stevie Brown said: “I hope this is the start of a new era for the club. Ann has been phenomenal and it is fantastic to see the stand. It will be a great atmosphere. I think the fans have been magnificent and we have a lot to build on for the future.”
Andrew Ness, 38: “It’s fantastic to be back at Tynecastle. The stand looks great and I’m looking forward to the game.”
Julie McInroy, 37, said: “I’m glad to be back. I went to my first game in the South Enclosure back in 1982 and to see this now is unbelievable.”
The Tynecastle club entered administration in June 2013 with debts close to £30m, with most of the money owed to businesses in Lithuania who themselves would undergo insolvency procedures.
Local businesswoman and Hearts supporter Ann Budge agreed a deal with creditors to buy the club a year later and quickly set about restructuring the club.
Stuart Donaldson, 23: “This club has been through a tough time. But there is a new vibe around the place thanks to Ann and the fans are behind what she is trying to do.”
Hearts were unable to make it a winning return to Tynecastle, however, after Partick Thistle snatched a 1-1 draw.