Hearts' 2021 end-of-year awards: Player of the year, best signing, funniest moment, most improved

As 2021 comes to a close, we look back at the last 12 months at Tynecastle by handing out some end-of-year awards.

By Craig Fowler
Thursday, 30th December 2021, 11:49 am
Updated Thursday, 30th December 2021, 1:05 pm
Craig Gordon makes a typical Craig Gordon save to deny St Mirren's Jamie McGrath
Craig Gordon makes a typical Craig Gordon save to deny St Mirren's Jamie McGrath

Player of the Year

Easy, easy, easy. It's Craig Gordon. The goalkeeper has been ridiculously good in 2021, becoming the best in the Premiership and re-establishing himself as Scotland's No.1 at the age of 38. He’s even been arguably better in his second spell than he was first time around. You know, when he was eventually sold for £9 million.

Best moment

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John Souttar's late goal against Celtic on the opening day of this season got the campaign off to a flier and Hearts were able to use the momentum and confidence from that win to piece together an 11-game unbeaten run.

Best goal

Stephen Kingsley has netted three free-kicks in 2021 and all of them are strong contenders, but his effort against St Mirren was the best individual goal scored by a Hearts player this year. From between 25-30 yards he put the ball right in the postage stamp, giving Jak Alnwick no chance and securing a victory at Tynecastle.

Worst goal conceded

Stephen Kingsley scores with a trademark free-kick at Ross County

Needing a response after the Brora debacle, Hearts manage to claw themselves back back from 2-0 down to draw level with Queen of the South at Tynecastle. Then Andy Irving inexplicably decided to try and volley a cross clear with his left-foot when a simple block away with his right would've done, resulting in a shank that wrong-footed Ross Stewart and ended up in the corner of the net.

Funniest moment

The club leaning into being the topic of a minor plot point in award-winning HBO series Succession by pretending to be sponsored by Waystar | Royco was, as they say, a good laugh.

Lowest moment

Stephen Kingsley makes it 2-0 with a free kick during against St Mirren in November

Losing to Brora Rangers, a Highland League side, in the Scottish Cup is going to take some beating, especially as it wasn't some smash and grab fluke. The way 2021 has ended, I guess fans can now look back on this embarrassment and laugh… someday… maybe.

Best signing

Beni Baningime just shades it ahead of Cammy Devlin and Barrie McKay. All three have been excellent, but having been thrown in right at the deep end in the opening game against Celtic and shining from there, Beni has been doing it consistently for longer.

Biggest loss

Brora's Dale Gillespie celebrates his side's win in the Scottish Cup tie at Dudgeon Park

It wasn't a great look for Andy Irving, the club's best young asset, to leave for nothing but training compensation. Then again, the 21-year-old would not have been a great fit in the 3-4-3 so it's not like he's been missed. There wasn't really anybody else leaving in 2021 who fans would have wanted to stick around.

Future trivia answer

If Shay Logan played five games for Hearts and no one was in the ground to see it, did it actually happen?

Best tactical masterclass

Winless in four games, Robbie Neilson switched to a 3-4-3 system for the visit of Alloa to Tynecastle in April. The hosts won 6-0 and the head coach has kept some variation of the system pretty much ever since.

The Dennis Wyness award for most improved

Brora's Martin MacLean celebrates his side's win at Dudgeon Park in March

Craig Halkett. Leaner and meaner, he's been a colossus at the heart of the back three after the majority of supporters wouldn't have been too fussed if he'd made a summer exit.

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Beni Baningime has been a top signing