BY DOUGLAS WALKER, Deadline Press & Picture Agency
HEARTS players will wear a commemorative strip in honour of the club’s war dead against Aberdeen this Sunday.
The special shirt will bear on its sleeve the names of the seven players who fell during WW1 and will also have an embroidered poppy on its front.
The Gorgie side were the first football club in Britain to enlist for action in November 1914 and were part of the 16th Royal Scots which became know as “McCrae’s Battalion”.
Like George Burley’s side two years ago, the side had won it’s opening eight league fixtures and was tipped to win the league before making the ultimate sacrifice.
At total of seven players – John Allan, James Boyd, Duncan Currie, Ernest Ellis, Thomas Gracie, James Speedie and Harry Wattie – all lost their lives.
The current day players will all attend the club’s Remembrance Day service at Haymarket on Sunday morning prior to the afternoon’s match with the Dons. A Hearts spokesman said: “The 11th of November is a poignant day for many people around the world and it also holds a special place in the hearts of our own supporters.
“We are hugely appreciative of the sacrifice made by our players, shareholders and fans in the war and we felt that this was one small way we could ensure that their names are remembered.
“At that time in November 1914 many people believed that the team was the best ever to wear maroon having won their first eight league games to take a significant lead at the top of the table.
“There can be little doubt that not only in results but in sheer spirit and worth they were the best.”
McCrae’s Battalion were in the thick of the Battle of the Somme which saw 20,000 troops killed on its first day. In spite of the dreadful losses, the Battalion was credited with achieving the most advanced penetration of the enemy line anywhere on the front that day.
After Sunday’s match, the strips will be washed and framed before being auctioned at various events with all proceeds going to McCrae’s Battalion Trust. The strip will not be on general sale.