According to the old terrace chant, Hearts have ‘played in South Morocco’ and they’ve ‘played in the U-S-A’.
But, while it would be foolish to trust the song’s spurious claim that the Edinburgh side have ever set boots upon the sand dunes of the Moroccan Sahara, no-one can deny their numerous trips to North America – they’ve a trophy to prove it.
In 1958, the newly-crowned Scottish League champs travelled to Canada and the United States to participate in the Empire State Cup, a nine-game-tour to mark 25 years since the advent of the American Soccer League. A full squad, including the ‘Terrible Trio’ attack line of Bauld, Conn and Wardhaugh, made the journey across the Atlantic. The side had just wrapped up a record-breaking league campaign which saw them finish 13 points clear at the top of the table with an astonishing 132 goals scored (a Scottish top-tier record) and just 29 conceded.
With Canada boasting a large population of Scottish ex-pats, Hearts proved to be a popular billing, and the Gorgie side attracted mostly bumper crowds wherever they went. In the opening game on May 23, Hearts steamrollered Ontario All-Stars 6-0 in front of a crowd of around 10,000 at Toronto’s Varsity Stadium, Bauld and Wardhaugh doubling up to great effect.
Two days later, the Jam Tarts headed south to New York for the first of four matches versus Manchester City. The game against the English side took place in front of 20,600 at Ebbett’s Field, former home of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The legendary baseball team had just made their controversial move to Los Angeles the previous May.
In what turned out to be a thrilling encounter, Brooklyn’s ‘Jammy Dodgers’ edged out City 6-5, having been two goals down after just 15 minutes. Wardhaugh managed a hat-trick, with Alex Young, Johnny Hamilton and Bauld netting the others.
Hearts’ next four games included a brace of impressive 13-2 victories against Manitoba and Alberta either side of a stunning 5-2 triumph in the second game against Man City. They then romped to a 4-1 win over British Columbia in Vancouver.
Then came an almighty crash. The boys in maroon tasted a little of their own medicine on June 7 as they found themselves on the wrong end of a 7-1 battering courtesy of an on-fire Man City. A crowd of 24,000 – the largest of the entire tournament – were present at Toronto’s Varsity Stadium to see the Edinburgh side dismantled.
But Hearts would atone for their lacklustre performance. On June 9, four goals from Conn and a hat-trick from Young contributed towards a 10-0 win in the penultimate fixture of the tournament against Ontario’s Northern Stars in Sudbury.
Then, in the final match, Hearts finished as they had started with a ferocious 6-0 victory over Man City in Montreal. A crowd of 10,200 watched on as Wardhaugh (four), Ian Crawford and Bauld made Manchester very blue.
With eight blistering wins out of a possible nine, Hearts departed North America as overall victors of the tournament and were duly awarded the Empire State Cup as their reward.
The trophy joined the squad on board the RMS Carinthia for the long voyage back to Scotland.
• See more great items from Hearts’ history at the club’s museum. For opening times, go to www.heartsfc.co.uk/pages/museum