Tree tribute in team colours for Hearts stalwart Eddie

The plaque in Eddie's memory at the Oxgangs Neighbourhood Centre
The plaque in Eddie's memory at the Oxgangs Neighbourhood Centre
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A plaque honouring a life-long Hearts fan who died after being taken ill at his beloved Tynecastle has been unveiled by his widow as the anniversary of his death approaches.

Lifelong Jambo Eddie McRiner, from Gorgie, collapsed as he watched Craig Levein’s team conquer treble-winners Celtic in December, running out 4-0 winners and ending the Glasgow team’s 69-unbeaten run.

The 60-year-old was suddenly taken ill and rushed from the stadium to hospital, where he later died despite the best efforts of the emergency services and those who administered first aid at the stadium as they awaited an ambulance and paramedic.

Days later, fans of both Hearts and Hibs united to mark his passing with loud applause in the 60th minute of the Edinburgh derby as a moving mark of respect to the Oxgangs Neighbourhood Centre caretaker.

Wellwishers have planted a tree, a Liquidambar – which is Hearts maroon in colour – at the centre in memory of Eddie, who was described by many as “the life and soul of the place”, renowned for his willingness to get involved with others and always quick to pass an amusing story on.

One centre regular said dad-of-two Eddie was ‘full of the chat’ and loved passing the time talking about his family and results, signings and ongoings at Tynecastle.

On Monday his widow, Fiona, and mother Janette joined friends and relatives as the specially commissioned Hearts plaque was unveiled at the centre where Eddie had worked for four and a half years.

Following the moving unveiling, Mrs McRiner said the extent of the tributes to her late husband had been unexpected and very moving.

She added: “This ceremony was really unexpected by the family and what the centre has done shows such kindness.

“Eddie’s mother, who will be 86 next year, was overwhelmed by this gesture.”

Liz Bracken, chair of Oxgangs Neighbourhood Centre, said Eddie would be missed for his helpful attitude and his famous catchphrase.

She added: “Nothing was too much trouble for Eddie. He was very much without doubt part of our team. He is still sorely missed and as I said at the unveiling of his plaque, his phrase was always, ‘You alright, pal?!!!’”

Manager Dominic Heslop did not work with Eddie – arriving at the Oxgangs centre after his passing – but revealed he had learned about him from locals and others who attended regularly.

He said: “Sadly, I never had the opportunity to meet and work with Eddie, but everyone who knew him speak about him with immense affection and fondness.”

Speaking at the plaque unveiling, Mr Heslop added: “A big hearted, funny, decent man who loved his family and was devoted to his beloved Hearts.

“As we approach the anniversary of him passing away, this is a fitting tribute to a person who is still sorely missed by many.”