Maroon Memories: Tommy Walker '˜a smiling, muddy imp'

An amazing game played on a quagmire of a pitch at Ibrox Park yielded Heart of Midlothian a notable victory over Rangers.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 7th January 2017, 5:30 am
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 12:01 pm
Tommy Walkers amazing energy was a feature of the game although Fred Warren scored for Hearts
Tommy Walkers amazing energy was a feature of the game although Fred Warren scored for Hearts

Only the previous month, Hearts routed Rangers at Tynecastle, at the same time inflicting upon the Cup holders their first defeat of the season.

In the interim, Rangers had recovered from this reverse with several smart wins, only to meet their second defeat from the same source.

Hearts were inspired. They rose to the occasion magnificently, playing with all their old spirit, and were entirely different from the feckless side who lost at Dundee the Saturday before, and probably lost then a great chance in the championship.

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Additional merit in the Edinburgh side’s win lies in the fact that there were no fewer than five enforced changes from their recognised best team.

Their chances were indeed slim, even when they crossed over with the lead of the single goal that eventually brought them victory. The home side played a dour, defensive game so far as the rear ranks were concerned, while the forwards showed method that seemed bound to succeed. Hearts’ counter to this was enthusiasm and individual skill, which suited the terrible weather conditions.

Every man of the 22, however, was a hero, and none more entitled to honours than the lauded Tommy Walker, a veritable smiling, mud-covered imp, whose amazing energy was a feature of the game.

Others who did stand out were Willie Waugh and Jimmy Dykes for Hearts, and Dawson, Simpson, and Smith for Rangers.

Both goalkeepers make 
marvellous saves at testing times, and fully lived up to their reputations as Scotland’s first and second choice. Dawson, the internationalist, did particularly 
well, but had no chance to save the score against him.

Even more important than the individual play was the comparatively high standard of football provided under conditions that made many of an attendance of over 30,000 doubtful if the match would be played to a finish. A great deal of jostling and badly-placed charging was only to be expected, but penalty appeals by both sides were refused.

Hearts had to kick off against a storm of wind and rain, and although they made fairly good progress, they met with stern resistance in the form of devastating sliding tackles. Only Walker could keep his feet when it came to ploughing through the mud in a stiff attack and, even at this stage, he had Brown and others running themselves out.

Rangers’ inside forwards were passing better, and before long Smith and Kinnear got through for shots that Waugh saved at full stretch.

Hearts’ rallies were more brief, but quite effective, and ten minutes from the interval they went ahead.

A corner kick, on the right, was partially cleared and 
returned hard for Fred Warren, standing at the near post, to run the ball into the net.

Even after this setback, Rangers still played to plan, and, with the wind dropping in the second half, they were not greatly handicapped.

It was then the turn of the visitors to tackle grimly, and Robson subdued McPhail, while Dykes kept a firm grip on Smith. The burly centre got through once, however, and a fierce shot from eight yards went over off the crossbar.

Then Walker came away with more of his cantrips, and Rangers’ defenders tired. Dawson saved them from a more severe defeat with two back-breaking saves, twisting in mid-air, from volleys by Walsh.

Nevertheless, it was freely admitted that Rangers played better than they did against Celtic and Partick Thistle – both games that they won by the only goal.

Hearts on the other hand, produced some of the mercurial form that makes their championship efforts so baffling and so interesting.

However, Rangers went on to claim the title with Hearts finishing in fifth place.

Hearts: Waugh, Anderson, Herd, Harvey, Dykes, Murray, Ferguson, Walker, Walsh, Robson, Warren.