Hearts in 50 objects: No.28 – The bridge destroyed by war

The 3D cast of the original bridge given to Hearts
The 3D cast of the original bridge given to Hearts
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The Stari Most is very much the jewel in the crown of Mostar, the city in southern Bosnia-Herzegovina where Hearts have enjoyed two European successes.

This 3D impression of the famous bridge across the River Neretva will be recognised by fans who visited Mostar to see the Tynecastle side face Velez Mostar in 1988 and Siroki Brijeg in 2006.

Mostar became a symbol of the Bosnian War, which raged from 1992 to 1995. The city was the hardest hit and most bombed during the conflict. Neighbourhood fought neighbourhood and snipers fired from building to building as Bosnian Muslims and Croats clashed.

On November 9, 1993, the original Mostar Bridge was destroyed by Croat forces. It had stood for 427 years and its demise caused genuine upset throughout the region. Subsequently, a project began to reconstruct and the new bridge opened on July 23, 2004.

This 3D cast of the original was given to Hearts by Velez Mostar when the teams met in the 1988 UEFA Cup third round. Leading 3-0 from the first leg in Edinburgh, Hearts suffered a 2-1 defeat in the Gradski Stadium but left the old Yugoslavia with a place in the quarter-finals secured.

Eamonn Bannon, Mike Galloway and John Colquhoun were the goalscorers in the first leg, with Galloway scoring an impressive away goal to ensure Velez had no way back into the tie.

Hearts returned to Mostar 18 years later for a Champions League qualifying tie with Siroki. The Edinburgh club based themselves in the city and travelled 40 minutes west to Siroki Brijeg.

Again they arrived in Bosnia defending a 3-0 lead – this time thanks to goals from Ibrahim Tall, Roman Bednar and an own goal by Branimir Anic. A 0-0 draw at the Pecara Stadium was enough to seal passage to face AEK Athens in the next round.

The Mostar Bridge remains a top tourist attraction in the Balkan region with part of the attraction for tourists the chance to see locals jump off the bridge and dive a full 24 metres into the Neretva.

• See more great items from Hearts’ history at the club’s museum. For opening times, go to www.heartsfc.co.uk/pages/museum