Hearts fans up for the cup with the Evening News
THEY came from near and far, young and old. They came from crèches, care homes and places of work.
Some feared they wouldn’t make it, others came for those who didn’t but all came for their club - one team, one family, one Hearts.Fans flocked to Tynecastle to answer the Evening News rallying cry to cheer on the side on the even of their biggest game for years.Robert Allen made the trip to Tynecastle straight from the Western General where he was given the all-clear from kidney cancer.“I was diagnosed eight weeks ago and three days later I had my left kidney removed,” said an emotional Robert, 37, from Bathgate.“I couldn’t make the semi-final because I was still recovering but I always had it in my mind to go to the final if we made it.“It’s been a hard couple of months but what better way to start the rest of your life than with a cup final win over Celtic.”The Tynecastle club are in Robert’s blood - his uncle Danny Paton played in the famous maroon strip in their 1962 League Cup triumph.“He died in 2011 but he played with all the greats,” said civil servant Robert.“I’m optimistic. I’m struggling for energy and stuff but I thought Hearts have always been there for me, so I’ll be there for them.”And thanking staff at the Western General who helped get him to the final, he added: “Mr Leung, the surgeon, was absolutely first class and the nurses are worth their weight in gold.”At his were wife Lesley and four-year-old son Cameron. “It’s going to be an amazing day,” said Lesley, 34. “It’s been a hard few weeks but this wee guy has kept us going - we’ll be smiling all day.”Shop manager Dean Gibson, 27, from Clermiston, was cradling two-year-son Noah in his arms and looking forward to a particularly emotional day.Mum and life-long Jambo Dawn died in January of pneumonia at the age of 43 - but had a message for her son before she did.“She told me in November that she thought we’d win the cup,” said Dean. “I got the number 43 put on her Hearts top and I’ll be wearing that tomorrow.“I’ve seen them win three Scottish Cups so this’ll be the fourth. If we win, It’ll probably cry more. She would’ve been there.”Steph Wilson, 32, from Drylaw, said: “I’m quite confident. I’ll be going to the game in full strip.“I’ve got lots of superstitions and I’ll be making sure I do the usual pre-match routine - two points and a Hearts quiz with my dad Peter.”Mum-of-one Sharon Laing, 37, came with six-week-old son Jacob, sheltering from the blazing Tynecastle sun in his buggie.“His grandad Brain Laing played for Hearts in 1972,” beamed a proud Sharon. “Jacob’s too young to take this in but I’ll keep the paper to show him when he’s older.”Old-timers Alan Chisholm, 78, Sandy Stewart, 81, and John Munro, 78, came from Drumbrae Care Home - bringing memories of the Jam Tarts’ last Scottish Cup final triumph over Celtic.“It was 1956,” recalled Sandy, a smile the length of Gorgie Road spreading across his face. “I remember getting drunk.“There were 132,000 there but it was all standing in those days of course. I’ll be watching the game tomorrow on the tele.”John added: “I’m just hoping for the best.”Five-year-old Oliver Brownlee was sporting the Hearts strip he got for his birthday, gearing up to cheer on his hero Uche Ikpeazu.Oliver, the youngest of three generations of his family heading to the game was at Tynecastle with proud gran Wendy.“We’re a big family and we went to the semi-final as well,” said Wendy, 65. “That was my first game at Hampden and Olly’s as well.”Oliver added: “It was noisy at the semifinal but I liked it.”Jambos in exile, Stuart Morris and son Ben, 17, had driven the 415 miles from their home in Woking, Surrey, for the game - leaving at 5am.“All my family are Scottish and we’re Hearts through and through,” said season ticket holder Stuart. “I’ve got my lucky pants with me so I’m more than confident.“They’re the same ones I wore when we beat Hibs 5-1 in the final. They’re full of holes now.”And support for the Gorgie Boys is spreading down south too - with Ben’s pals adopting Hearts as their second team.“The best match for me was the 2012 cup final, 100 percent,” said Ben. “I even got interviewed on Sky Sports.”Along for the ride is Stuart’s Spurs-supporting mate, Stuart Jobling, 39: “I’ve been to a few games,” he said. “I’m a bit sceptical but positive as well.”Pals Steven Halliday and Iain Inglis had their own views on how their beloved Hearts should approach today’s showcase final.“We’ve got to stop them playing,” said support worker Iain, from Port Seton. “If we let them play, we’ll be in trouble.“We need to attack them and I think set pieces could be important.”Plumber Steven, 29, from Wester Hailes, said: “I’m a wee bit nervous but very, very excited as well.“We’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain - opposite of Celtic. As [Craig Levein] said, we’re going for our single-single.”Like many across the Capital, bank manager Keith Marinello’s family has split allegiances - he follows Hearts with his mum, Lillian, while dad Tony and brother Steven are Hibees.“I watched a Hibs Hearts game with my brother about 10 years ago - never again,” said Keith, 36, from Currie, sporting the same scarf from his team’s 2012 derby final win.Joining him at Tynecastle and practising his skills with a ball in the shadow of the glinting new main stand, was six-year-old son Jakob.“I’m excited,” said Jakob. “I’ve never seen them lose so I’m like their lucky mascot. Steven Naismith is my favourite player because he scores so many goals.”Whether it be in celebration or commiseration, a busy weekend is expected in the Tynecastle Arms.“I’ve quadrupled my order for the weekend,” said bar manager Sharon Brown. “And we’re all doing double shifts.”