Hearts owner Ann Budge is laying the foundations for a bright future, but insists the club also has to celebrate its past.
As the new club museum opened its doors to the public for the first time yesterday morning, IT guru Budge has recalled how neglected memorabilia once used to be crammed into a disused police cell at Tynecastle, while artefacts that were on display were poorly maintained.
The museum is just the latest in a long list of new projects overseen by Budge since the 68-year-old and owners-in-waiting the Foundation of Hearts (FoH) took the club out of administration in June 2014.
Budge insists remembering the past is just as important as focussing on the future.
She said: “I used to enter the stadium via the back door and a few days after I took over I met the club historians, Bill and David, who were in an old room.
“I didn’t know who they were but at that stage I was finding something different and that was another thing I stumbled across and slotted away.
“The area they were in used to be old police cells they used. It was packed to the gunnels with memorabilia.
“The fact it was all hidden away was probably a reflection on what had gone on before. The first time I went into the Directors’ Suite I found some glass cabinets and it was filthy.
“I looked at a few things and wondered when the silverware had last been polished. The historians unlocked the cases and there was one item they didn’t realise was silver because it was black.
“There were things around but weren’t treated with any respect. When I started engaging with the fans they were always telling me about how many generations of Hearts fans were in their family.
“They were always talking about the past. Gradually, it got through to me just how important it is, and as soon as we announced we were going to have a museum it was like opening the floodgates because people were walking into the reception or writing to us to donate items.
“There is a suitcase in one of the cabinets that was taken on tour to South Africa and still has all the labels and names on it, and there’s a tea pot and cream jug as well as medals and trophies.”
Budge, who is set to hand over her entire controlling stake to the FoH by 2020, said: “I thought it would be a case of building a few cabinets, polishing things up and sticking them in. But that would have been the wrong thing to do. We had to do it properly.
“The museum was 90 per cent complete for about the last six months. We had a team working on the project but I didn’t realise what I was getting into because you had to decide on the smallest details, such as font size.”