A framed picture of the Heart of Midlothian Strollers team from season 1893/94. Some clubs ran amateur sides below their first teams at that time, which were named “strollers”.
It was a trend which didn’t stand the test of time but which illustrated the growing popularity of football in that era.
The information beside this picture confirms Hearts ran a successful strollers side which won the Second Eleven Scottish Cup and the Edinburgh Cup that year. It was the start of a period in which they lifted the Second Eleven Scottish Cup six times: 1895, 1895, 1897, 1901, 1906 and 1911.
Their players were not on the payroll at Tynecastle but could potentially be given the chance to step into the first team if they impressed on the field.
“Strollers” teams eventually gave way to reserve teams in the mid-1950s and these were a popular way of using fringe players. They also helped first-team members return from injury gradually by playing games at reserve level.
Eventually, reserve football gave way to under-21 and, more recently, under-20 teams as Scottish football began to prioritise the development and improvement of youth players.
• See more great items from Hearts’ history at the club’s museum. For opening times, go to www.heartsfc.co.uk/pages/museum