Foundation of Hearts – October 17 Blog

logoWelcome to the latest edition of our Foundation of Hearts blog. The eagle-eyed will note that we are returning to our previous method of communicating news and updates to our members. We tried ‘The Pledger’ based on feedback but, on balance, feel that the blog is a much swifter way of getting information to our members. Our intention is to issue this bi-monthly, unless there is information we feel should come to you more quickly. Welcome back! We have a lot to tell you.

Update from Foundation of Hearts Chair, Stuart Wallace

stewartSeptember saw the club’s first ‘home’ match at Murrayfield against Aberdeen. Many of us will have left the match in admiration of the strength and passion in the team’s performance in what could have been a very handsome victory. No doubt those victories will now follow. Our fans turned Murrayfield maroon and, with a fine Aberdeen contingent, a crowd of 25,000 certainly ‘made some noise’. It was a spine-tingling moment as ‘Hey Jude’ rang out to the mass twirly: it looked impressive from the West Stand. The sense in leaving Murrayfield that day was that we were the supporters who felt more disappointment at the result. The players deserved at least what they achieved and probably more. We’ve carried the Murrayfield momentum into our subsequent away games and there is no reason why it won’t continue through October and beyond. We look difficult to beat and are playing with real grit, no doubt exciting times ahead.

It is great to get back to football after a pretty tumultuous week or two at the club and also at the Foundation. Craig’s appointment as manager brought to a close a period of intense speculation around the position. It seemed only right that the club took its time in making such a crucial appointment. Things will settle quickly now and the club will move forward into an incredibly exciting period. Craig brings experience to the role in a way that few others could and it was great to see the supporters get right behind him after he decided to take the role.

The daily pictures now emerging of the new stand’s progress are breath-taking. Tynecastle Park will open in November, hopefully with 14,000 season ticket holders in place, a sell out on the day and a substantial increase in facilities. It will be great to get ‘right behind the team’ as we return home for good.

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Many of you will have followed our ‘Deadline Day’ social media campaign, which timed nicely with Craig’s appointment. It was a very tongue-in-cheek campaign but really struck a chord with the supporters. We had an incredible day and at one point we were losing count of our new members. In the day or two that followed, the activity continued and we saw our new members move into treble figures, with a number of pledge increases too. It was a strong statement of us coming together as a support and, for this, we thank you.

You’ll find an update in this blog in relation to our draft Governance proposals and what you can expect to see next. You’ll also find an update on plot ceremonies and membership clubs, along with news about our upcoming supporter engagement plans. We are keen to be very visible to our members and continue to strengthen our ties with them. The Foundation’s presence at the Federation of Hearts Supporters Club monthly meeting began this process and also proved to be a really enjoyable night with some great discussions. Hopefully there will be more to come.

Everyone at the Foundation and the club is really grateful for your support, whether that is your monthly pledge, the increases we have seen to pledges, the many one-off donations we are now starting to see, or even your retweets of our social media activity. You can find everything you need to know on all of those topics at www.foundationofhearts.org

Future Governance

Our period of consultation on the long-term governance model for the Foundation and Hearts closed on 31 August. A number of members submitted detailed comments, while others provided feedback at the open meeting we held in the Gorgie Suite at Tynecastle in August. A discussion thread on our proposals also ran on the Kickback forum. Your feedback has been invaluable and we are grateful to everyone who participated.

The next stage is for our working group to consider all the comments received and review our proposals in light of that feedback. At the board meeting next month, our board of directors will approve a final set of proposals and these will be issued to our members. We will then ask our members to endorse the proposals at our forthcoming AGM, the details of which are confirmed later in this blog.

Supporter Engagement

As the Foundation moves closer toward fan ownership, we have turned our attention to increasing engagement not only with pledgers, but with all Hearts fans. The Foundation were recently invited to the Federation of Hearts Supporters’ monthly meeting alongside Gary Locke. We were delighted to accept and directors Stuart Wallace and Louise Strutt gladly attended on behalf of the board. At the meeting we had the opportunity to discuss our vision for even stronger fan engagement and the feedback was incredibly positive.

Louise has been tasked with leading the development and roll out of a supporter engagement strategy for the Foundation which will include the Foundation board visiting Hearts supporters’ clubs around the country to discuss the progress of the Foundation and recruit even more members to ensure Heart of Midlothian Football Club can continue to create history for many years to come.

Plans for these visits along with other initiatives such as a ‘meet the directors’ event and potential fans forum are currently being discussed and we hope to provide more information on these in the coming months. We will also be looking to reinstate our presence on matchdays as soon as the club return to a regular run of home fixtures, so watch out for our smiling faces around the ground.

Should you wish to receive any more information, or if you are interested in arranging a visit to your supporters’ club, please contact louise@foundationofhearts.org for more information.

Plot Ceremonies and Membership Clubs

PresentationWe continue to host plot ceremonies regularly for pledgers who have reached the required level of Maroon Points. The Tynecastle Redevelopment has made scheduling somewhat tricky but despite this we’ve now seen around 2,000 Foundation pledgers grace the hallowed turf at Tynecastle to stand proud atop their own little piece of history. As a reminder, members will be invited to ceremonies in the order in which they achieve the required level of points and if you fail to respond to two invites we will assume you do not wish to attend. At the moment, we have around 800 pledgers who have reached the Maroon Point limit but have not yet received an invitation. We are working through the backlog as fast as we can. Every pledger who reaches the total will receive an invitation and each plot ceremony is as special as the last, so please be patient and bear with us. The next plot ceremony we have scheduled is for the 22nd of October.

We also invited the first pledgers to reach 1,300 Maroon Points to collect their 1956 club certificate and badge at the Hearts museum over the summer. Over 400 pledgers have been invited to visit the museum and meet a club legend across a selection of dates. 400 more invitations will follow shortly. As with the plot ceremonies, we have a backlog of pledgers to get through so if you’ve reached this points total and haven’t yet received an invite, rest assured we are working on it.

Pledger Stories

PledgerPledger Ron Bain travelled all the way from Australia to attend his plot ceremony at Tynecastle earlier this year. Afterward, we asked him to tell us about what pledging to the Foundation means to him:

“My Plot Ceremony was awesome and felt like the culmination of my lifetime as a Hearts supporter.  I am 65 now and can recall being on my father’s shoulders outside the Roxy picture house that night in 1956 when Hearts carried the Cup home.  I have followed the Jambos ever since. Of course, there have been bad times like watching us lose 2-0 to Kilmarnock on the 24th April 1965 and walking home to my parents’ house in Westfield Court crying all the way.  We lost the title by 0.042 of a goal…….by today’s goal difference rules we would have won!!”

“Moving to Australia in 1983 drastically changed the level of information I had since it was well before the age of internet and I had to rely on the Sunday Post that my mother would send out.  Since then of course things have improved immensely.  Hearts FC coverage of games (and the regular cable channels) allow me to watch the team “live” but time difference for the majority of the season is 11 hours so a 3pm kick off at Tynecastle is 2am here in Australia.  Not always possible!!!”

“Above is a photo of me in my back yard holding the collection of Pennants I got from my Dad celebrating those wonderful years in the late 50s when the Hearts won just about everything. Unfortunately, you can’t see my name on the shirt since it sits just on my left shoulder blade, but I know it’s there!!”

The Foundation are hugely grateful for Ron’s contribution. If you are interested in sharing your story in a future blog, we would love to hear from you. Email us telling us what pledging to the Foundation means to you at info@foundationofhearts.org.

Date for your diary – Foundation AGM

This year’s Foundation of Hearts AGM will be held in the Gorgie Suite at 6.00 on Wednesday, 20 December. Further details will be circulated to all members in due course.

If you have any questions or comments on this month’s blog please feel free to leave them below or direct them to info@foundationofhearts.org.

November 2016

November Plot Ceremonies

November saw two more successful plot ceremonies hosted at Tynecastle and another 100 pledgers walk on to the pitch to lay claim to their own little piece of history. The feedback from those who have attended to date has been incredible. One pledger attending on the 6th November described the ceremony as “an excellent day which was very memorable for me and my guest” which captures the sentiment of what we are continuing to hear from pledgers.

At each ceremony we ask FoH members to record their favourite Tynecastle memories. One video recorded this month with Roddie Hare gave a very unique perspective of growing up watching Tynecastle from a flat on Wheatfield Street. We think it is worth a watch and it can be viewed here on our facebook page.

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680 pledgers have now attended their ceremony and we have 1,185 who have reached the required Maroon Points total and are awaiting an invite. Please do be patient as we work through the backlog of invitations. We do occasionally experience challenges scheduling the ceremonies owing to the timing of home fixtures, stadium works and other events taking place at Tynecastle. However, we promise that all pledgers who have reach the required 1,000 points will be given the opportunity to attend. From the moment you walk into the Gorgie Suite on the day of your ceremony we do everything we can to show just how much your pledges and support mean to the Foundation and the Club. When the time comes for you to join us at Tynecastle for your ceremony, we hope that you will agree it was worth the wait.

AGM news

We announced this month on the website that we intend to hold our third AGM early in the new year. The principal factor driving the timing is that our constitution includes a process for the retirement of directors by rotation at specified intervals. Orderly rotation is important for the effective functioning of the board and its stewardship of the Foundation. The rules will operate for the first time in relation to our forthcoming AGM, and we are therefore allowing ourselves some time to plan the process and ensure that it operates in the best interests of the Foundation and its members. We will be in touch with you again as soon as we have finalised the date of the AGM. At the same time, we will also issue our 2016 annual accounts.

Tynecastle redevelopment update

Development of the new stand at Tynecastle commenced this month with demolition of the buildings in front of the old main stand. The hope is that the entire area in front of the main stand will be cleared by the end of the year with new works scheduled to begin in early 2017. As announced on the club website, a time lapse camera will be in position throughout the works to capture each step. More information is available in this article.

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At the date of publishing this blog the Foundation have contributed a total of £875k to the Tynecastle Redevelopment Project, 29% of the £3m total we have committed. Your pledges have never been more important as we push to retain our momentum through the redevelopment and beyond.

BigHearts Foodbank Collection

BigHearts Community Trust will be holding a food bank collection before our next home match vs Motherwell on Saturday 26th November to support a small local Edinburgh food bank in Broomhouse with their Christmas stock. The collection will take place in the entrance area of the Gorgie Dalry Stenhouse Church on the corner of Gorgie Road and Tynecastle Terrace from 1.30pm up until kickoff. Supporters are invited to drop off small donations of food on their way to the match. We hope as many of our pledgers as possible are able to contribute.

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FoH in the news

FoH made international news yet again this month, this time appearing in a Croatian newspaper. We loved the headline “We saved the club from bankruptcy and united the fans.” Unfortunately, that is as far as our Croatian goes but we have been assured by someone in the know that the article talks in glowing terms of our journey so far. The article came about as Croatian club Hajduk Split are considering producing a strip to thank their fans, much the same as last season’s FoH tribute kit. We were asked to share our story and we were more than happy to shout about it.

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Please note the blog will be taking a break over the festive period and will return in the new year. We wish all supporters a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

If you have any questions or comments on this month’s blog please feel free to leave them below or direct them to info@foundationofhearts.org.

October 2016

We stay. We build.

October brought the momentous news that every Heart’s fan has been waiting for – planning permission for the Tynecastle Redevelopment has been granted! Social media was awash with supporters revelling in what is another important moment in the club’s history. Works will now commence in November with the new stand expected to be operational by the end of 2017. It will be a sad day when the old main stand goes, but the new stand and the facilities in and around it will reaffirm Tynecastle’s status as one of Scotland’s best sporting venues – and ensure Hearts supporters have a home to be proud of for generations to come.

What the Hearts fans have achieved in such a short period of time really is a remarkable story and one that just keeps getting better. From Save Our Hearts keeping us at Tynecastle when it looked unlikely, to fans uniting to save the club from liquidation and now supporting the redevelopment of Tynecastle, we’ve shown that it is possible for a diverse fan base to unite behind a common goal and achieve something very special.

We are very proud of the pivotal role that Foundation members have played, and will continue to play, in the resurgence of Heart of Midlothian. At the date of publishing this blog, FoH members have contributed £750k to the Tynecastle Redevelopment Project, 25% of the promised total and an important milestone.

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We simply cannot rest on our laurels, however. We have achieved so much but we still have a long way to go on our journey. We need your support more than ever in the run up to Christmas and beyond. Speak to that friend that has been thinking about signing up for a while and help us spread the FoH message. It’s hugely important that we continue our momentum into the future. A stronger Foundation means a stronger club.

#fromthesefoundations

We launched our new #fromthesefoundations marketing message on social media and in an advert in the matchday programme this month. This aims to combine a sense of what we have achieved to date while also evoking a sense of the potential of what we might go on to achieve together in the future. Below are some snippets from our Twitter page. There is plenty more to come so watch this space.

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October Plot Ceremonies

October saw a further two successful plot ceremonies hosted at Tynecastle and another 100 pledgers claim their own little part of the hallowed turf at Tynecastle. We have now sent almost 1,200 invitations and a total of 575 pledgers have attended across 11 plot ceremonies.

The feedback on these events has been fantastic, with a pledger attending on 29 October remarking that the day really ‘touched on the heart strings’ and that his father attending as his guest had decided to sign up to the FoH after attending the ceremony! We’ve even had pledgers phone the reception at Tynecastle to comment on what a special occasion their ceremony was. This kind of feedback makes all the efforts that go into coordinating and running the ceremonies worthwhile.

At the moment we have 1,527 members who have reached the required total and are awaiting an invite. We are working through these as quickly as we can so please bear with us. The next ceremony is on the 6 November and we are very much looking forward to welcoming you to Tynecastle over the coming weeks and months.

FoH in the news

Finally, in case our members missed the article, our Chairman Brian Cormack was interviewed by Barry Anderson in the Edinburgh Evening News this month. The article, split into two parts, can be accessed here and here. Some of our favourite quotes are below.

“The club serves the community, more of the community become Hearts fans, it’s circular. Money comes into the club but there’s no profit made by the club as such. It’s all reinvested in the club, which then assists the community.”

“People have heard about fan ownership and it’s important to stress Hearts will be fan-owned, not fan-run… People want a club that’s well-managed. Because the shares will be owned by the Foundation, or the fans, it’s vital that Hearts will never be mismanaged by any one person again.”

“We’re working with the club to make sure that the governance of Hearts and Foundation of Hearts are correct. That’s not just for the next few years, but for the next 50 years.”

“We want the Foundation to be able to fund the club forever; to add £1.5million or maybe £2m to the budget at a really well-run club.”

If you have any questions or comments on this month’s blog please feel free to leave them below or direct them to info@foundationofhearts.org.

 

 

September 2016

An update from the FoH for the month of September.

This is our story

The club museum officially opened its doors to the public on the 23rd of September. Located in the old club shop on Tynecastle Terrace, the museum beautifully tells the story of our club’s rich heritage from 1874 to the present day. Among the tales of legendary players, cup wins and the McCrae’s Battalion era is a section dedicated to the latest chapter in our history – the story of how the fans saved the club. Entry to the museum is free of charge and we hope members find the time to visit and reflect on the magnitude of what our collective efforts have achieved. Ours is a history worth fighting for. The FoH members stepped up when it mattered to help ensure Heart of Midlothian Football Club will be preserved for generations to come.


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Plot ceremonies

It was fantastic to see more pledgers join us in the Gorgie suite in August and September for our latest round of plot ceremonies. Pictures will be made available soon but in the meantime you can watch this short video (available here) of our August ceremony. We hope all attendees enjoyed their day at Tynecastle. In the words of Director Garry Halliday, “you are the heart and soul of this football club”.

As a reminder, members will be invited to ceremonies in the order in which they achieve the required level of points and if you fail to respond to two invites we will assume you do not wish to attend. The next ceremonies are planned for 16th October, 6th November and 20th November.

Email to lapsed pledgers

We are fully committed to increasing pledger numbers while at the same time maintaining our existing pledger base. With this objective in mind we continually look for feedback that can help better inform future marketing and retention initiatives. As part of this we recently contacted members of the Foundation of Hearts whose pledge had stopped at some point since our inception in 2013, to find out why.

We sent approximately 1,800 emails and received a total of 87 replies (4.8%). We received a varied response and following a detailed review can summarise the main reasons as follows;

  • Change of financial circumstances due to job loss, illness or maternity leave and moving away (72 responses)
  • Issues with Paypal and Go Cardless or pledging under a different email address or ID (9 responses)
  • Footballing matters (6 responses)

In addition to the above, a few of our members have very sadly passed away and we have shared our gratitude and condolences with their families.

From the responses we did receive it is apparent that a large portion of member churn occurs due to changes in personal financial circumstances. At the FoH we only ask ever that fans contribute what they can, when they can. We will always be grateful to everyone who has stepped up to help the FoH on its journey. Every pledge really does make a huge difference and we hope to be able to welcome back those who find themselves able to contribute again in the future.

We have looked into the points raised regarding Paypal and GoCardless and are currently working with these providers to resolve the issues identified and also to improve the ease with which pledgers can adjust their contribution.

We are very grateful to all of those who took time to respond to our email and would welcome any further feedback to our inbox info@foundationofhearts.org.

If you would like to pledge for the first time or rejoin as a member, you can do this by visiting the website at www.foundationofhearts.org and click on pledge now, which will take you through the relevant steps.

On a similar theme, we are currently working on a Foundation Member Survey to gather more ideas and views from our members so watch this space. Your views and feedback will continue to guide the future direction and strategy of the FoH.

Heineken’s Hall of Fame Ticket Offer

This month the club announced a discount for FoH pledgers and season ticket holders on all tickets remaining for the forthcoming Hall of Fame ceremony and dinner. Associate sponsor for the event. Heineken UK has chosen to show their gratitude to Hearts’ fans by subsidising remaining tickets for the event. They hope that their gesture will enable a broader group of fans to attend what is the most prestigious event in the club’s calendar.

Set up in 2006, the Heart of Midlothian Hall of Fame honours the legends that have graced the famous Tynecastle turf. This list celebrates the great players, whose grit, skill, dedication and professionalism has wowed thousands of adoring Jambos. The 2016 ceremony will take place on this Saturday (1st October) when we will induct the latest set of legends. Full details are available here.

We hope that some of our pledgers are able to take advantage of this offer and enjoy what is sure to be another amazing night at Tynecastle.

Tynecastle Redevelopment Funding Update

At the date of publishing this blog FoH members have contributed £625k to the Tynecastle Redevelopment Project, just over 20% of the promised total and in line with schedule. We will continue to include a running total of contributions in future blogs.

Edinburgh Council are due to visit Tynecastle this month with a final decision scheduled to be made by the planning department in October. The club has been in dialogue with the council for a number of months and all going well work on the stand should begin in November and be operational within 12 months.

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Match day information desk

Our match day information desk will be open at all 3pm Saturday home games this season at our usual location in the reception at McLeod Street. All fans and pledgers are welcome to drop in and ask anything of the Board. We are at your disposal from 1.30 until shortly before kick off.

In memory of Robert Wilson – part of our Foundation

The FoH Board were extremely saddened by the news of the passing of Robert Wilson last month. Robert was instrumental in putting together the strategic and financial plan for the FoH bid team when Hearts were in administration, and over this challenging period, he played a very important part in drawing up the vision and the subsequent development of the Foundation. It was heartwarming to see his contribution to Heart of Midlothian acknowledged by a minute’s silence at a packed Tynecastle before the Hamilton game. A lifelong Hearts supporter, Robert was a key figure in the saving of our club and his legacy will never be forgotten.

If you have any questions or comments on this month’s blog, please feel free to leave them below or direct them to info@foundationofhearts.org.

August 2016

An update from the FoH in a month which saw the start of the 2016/17 campaign and another important milestone reached in the Tynecastle Redevelopment project.

Tynecastle Redevelopment Update

Another milestone was reached in the Tynecastle Redevelopment this month with the club formally submitting their planning application to the City of Edinburgh Council. This follows on from the public consultation that has been carried out in recent months. The Club is still hoping to achieve its target date of end of October, 2016 for achieving full planning approval.  Additionally, work is now well under way to create the new temporary facilities under the Wheatfield stand, which are on schedule to be available by the end of October.

In line with our members’ decision to assist with the funding of the stadium redevelopment, we are delighted to report that we have already remitted £500k to the club towards the project costs.  While the modification to the original FoH/Bidco agreement is being put together these funds are ring-fenced in a separate club account and will only be utilised when the revision to the FOH/Bidco agreement is finalised.  This will be well before the club actually needs to access the funds.

 

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FoH Young Ambassador

In previous blogs we have highlighted the story of the Morrison family and the commitment of young Daniel Morrison to the FoH cause. Having met Daniel on several occasions over the last few months the Board were moved by his unstinting love for all things HMFC. In August we were delighted to announce that Daniel has accepted our invitation to become our first ever FoH Young Ambassador.

Daniel made headlines last year when he donated an incredible £900 to the Foundation after earning pocket-money carrying out household chores, and his fund-raising efforts have continued unabated. Daniel’s pledges have also been matched by his dad Alan. Their selfless fund-raising drive epitomises the collective spirit demonstrated by all the supporters who helped save our club in its time of need and we’re immensely proud to be able to call him one of our own.

The 14-year-old was an outstanding candidate to be our first Young Ambassador but the Foundation are keen to recognise other young fans and more ambassadorial roles will be made available in the coming months.

A thrilled Daniel said: “It’s a great achievement and it allows me to help promote the Foundation of Hearts and help the club. Hearts are the love of my life, really.

“It’s definitely a honour. I was stunned when (FoH chairman) Brian Cormack asked me to do it, but I was obviously very happy about it. It’s an amazing feeling.

“It’s great being more involved with the club. From fund-raising and being at a plot ceremony, I’ve got to know Jack Hamilton and he gave me a pair of his gloves.”

Dad Alan added: “I’m very proud. I got the e-mail from Brian and I let his mother see it, and she was over the moon about the offer.

“I’ve brought Daniel up as a Hearts fan and you do what you have to do for the club.”

Foundation of Hearts chairman Brian Cormack commented: “We are thrilled Daniel has taken up the invitation to become the first Foundation of Hearts Young Ambassador.

“The unstinting support offered by both Daniel and Alan reinforces why we have such an exceptional and unique fan base.

“Although Daniel has attracted media interest with his staggering fund-raising efforts, everyone at the Foundation and the club appreciates every single donation and pledge made by you, regardless of its size.

“There will also be more opportunities for our young fans to become Ambassadors in the future.”

We hope that Daniel is the first of many FoH Young Ambassadors. We never cease to be amazed by the passion and enthusiasm of our young supporters and know that there are many out there just like Daniel carrying the FoH cause. If you are interested in joining Daniel to become an FoH Young Ambassador or want to nominate someone, please do get in touch and share your story.

 

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FoH Young Ambassador Daniel Morrison
pictured here with his Dad Alan
and FoH Chairman Brian Cormack

Match day stall

After a short summer break Football is back at Tynecastle. We will be resuming our match day drop in stand in the reception at McLeod Street. All fans and pledgers are welcome to drop in and ask anything of the Board. We are at your disposal from 1.30 right up until kick off.

If you have any questions or comments on this month’s blog please feel free to leave them below or direct them to info@foundationofhearts.org.

 

July 2016

An update from the Foundation of Hearts for the month of July.

Help us spread the FoH message

We have been working on a new initiative called ‘Pledge Pals’ which will reward existing pledgers for introducing members to our ranks. The scheme will be launched soon after the start of the season and will reward pledgers who introduce new members, with the chance to win a range of Hearts-related prizes. The more new members you introduce, the greater your chance of winning.

Now is the time to get out there and start helping us to spread the FoH message! Watch out for further details coming very soon.

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Financial update

Pledge numbers continued to increase in June hitting 8,083 which is the highest level since we introduced our Fan Reward scheme in June 2015. We attribute the increase in part to the impact of the Thanking the Fans Days held on the last day of the season which saw FoH representatives posted around Tynecastle before kickoff. We plan to have a similar presence on match days during the coming season.

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Following the result of the Stadium Funding vote last month, we made our first contributions toward funding of the new main stand at Tynecastle; another huge milestone in our journey.

Plot ceremonies

As mentioned last month, a number of you have now reached the 1,000 points required to qualify for an invitation to a Foundation of Hearts plot ceremony. We now have dates confirmed for the next two ceremonies as Sunday 21st August and Sunday 11th September (TV schedules permitting).

As a reminder, members will be invited in the order in which they achieve the required level of points. If you fail to respond to two invites, we will assume you do not wish to attend.

As ever, we are very grateful for your patience on this front. It’s a tribute to the many supporters who have signed up to the Foundation that we have a long list of people to receive invitations. We will get through the list and we look forward to welcoming new plotholders to the ceremonies over the coming months.

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Bowled over

We’ve had FoH strips, badges and T-shirts but July saw a real first when pledger Dougie Mackie asked a company in Australia to create his very own FoH bowls (pictured below).

Dougie said “I saw you could design your own emblem so sent them the FoH badge. I had a shot of them last night…played great with them, possibly because I’m in the honeymoon period!”

Long may his winning streak continue! We think they are a work of art!

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Big Hearts Supporter Blog

In previous blogs we have highlighted the Big Hearts Supporter initiative through which more than 700 Hearts fans have signed up to volunteer in the Edinburgh community. The first of these supporters have already made a huge difference and you can follow the experience of volunteer Harry Bell in the Big Hearts blog here. If his story inspires you, visit the Big Hearts website for details of how to be part of it.

If you have any questions or comments on this month’s blog please feel free to leave them below or direct them to info@foundationofhearts.org. Any questions regarding the Stadium Funding proposal should be addressed to info@foundationofhearts.org

June 2016

An update from the FoH in a month which saw pledgers strongly back plans to fund the redevelopment of Tynecastle and Club season ticket sales smash last year’s total surpassing 13,500. The #JourneyContinues………….

Stadium Funding Result

The vote on the stadium funding proposal closed on Wednesday 15th of May and the Board was delighted to receive such a strong backing from our membership. A total of 3,790 votes were cast with 3,747 (or 98.86%) voting in favour of the proposal. The proposed resolution is therefore passed and we are currently working with Bidco to formalise the changes proposed to the financial agreement. From June onwards, funds advanced from the FoH to the club will contribute toward the Tynecastle Redevelopment Project. The Board was very pleased that members showed such overwhelming support for the proposal which we firmly believe is in the best interests of the club and the FoH in the long term.

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The club will now push forward with the development with work scheduled to start before the end of the year. When the works are completed we will have a stadium with first class facilities befitting a club of our history and stature. The stand will become the centrepiece of a revived Tynecastle for generations to come. FoH pledgers can stand proud in the knowledge that they were a key part of making it possible.

Financial update

Pledge numbers increased in May to marginally above 8,000, having dropped below that level at the start of the year. We saw the club mailshot have a marked impact on interactions with the FoH blog and website as well as 77 new members joining our ranks. We were also very grateful to Jambos Kickback who increased their pledge from £100 to £200 per month in May, contributing to an increase on overall monthly income to over £127,500. From June we will pay 95% of all pledger contributions to the club as part of the stadium funding arrangement. Whether it’s £10 or £100, your pledges make a huge difference, as was underlined by Club manager Robbie Neilson in a recent interview with the Evening News:

“The club will never overspend again. The money coming in from the fans through the Foundation of Hearts is vital to us. It is the lifeblood of the club. Everyone within Tynecastle has a responsibility to look after that money. It is the responsibility of everybody to make sure the money is well used. It is people’s hard-earned cash, at the end of the day.” – Robbie Neilson

Big Hearts Supporters’ Open Event

Our friends at Big Hearts held their first Supporters’ Open Event on Thursday 9th of June and director Donald Cumming attended as a representative of FoH. The Big Hearts team updated fans on the Supporters Movement and provided the opportunity to learn more about a range of volunteering opportunities available with Big Hearts and associated charitable organisations. Current opportunities range from cleaning up community spaces in Gorgie and Dalry to working in the St Columba’s Hospice shop. The evening was well attended and it is hoped that the opportunities featured will be filled by some of the 700+ Hearts fans (including all current FoH directors) who signed up to be Big Hearts Supporters earlier this year. If you have time to spare and want to help a great local cause, visit the Big Hearts website for details of how to be part of it.

big-hearts

Pledger Interview – Alan and Daniel Morrison

Young Hearts super fan Daniel Morrison has been fundraising again, after donating an incredible £650 to the Foundation of Hearts.

The 14-year-old pledged £900 last October after being paid for carrying out extra chores around the house, and dad Alan also matched that figure.

But the aspiring goalkeeper continued his crusade to raise money for his beloved club by handing over another £650. Alan – an FoH pledger – has again agreed to match that amount, while Daniel hopes to donate around another £150 in October.

Everyone involved at the FoH and the club is immensely grateful for Daniel’s staggering fundraising efforts, especially at a time when plans for the new main stand are taking shape.

Alan said: “Daniel has pledged another £650 from pocket money doing chores around the house and I have matched what he’s put in.

“He’s been doing things like carry wood as we’ve got wood burners in the house, and painting iron gates. He’s done a lot of chores.

“We’ve made sure he keeps some of the money for himself, though – his main love is his Xbox.

“Part of the reason that Daniel wanted to donate more money was because of the building of the main stand and he is planning to put another £150 in by October.

“It’s very exciting times at the club at the moment and I have total faith in Ann Budge and everything she is doing there. We know the fans’ money is going to be well spent.”

Alloa-based Daniel, who will take part in a cup final on Saturday for Wasps 2002, has been grateful for words of advice – and a pair of gloves – from Jack Hamilton after meeting the Hearts shot-stopper at an FoH virtual pitch plot ceremony.

Alan added: “Daniel met Jack at one of the plot ceremonies and Jack was absolutely fantastic with Daniel.

“I e-mailed Ann’s secretary to thank Jack for taking the time to speak to Daniel and I believe the e-mail was passed on to Jack.

“Jack even went away and got Daniel a pair of his gloves. I’ve got a lot of time for him.”

Foundation of Hearts chairman Brian Cormack said: “On behalf of the Foundation of Hearts, I would like to thank both Alan and Daniel for their incredible contributions. Daniel’s desire to raise money for the club is fantastic and hugely appreciated by everyone at both the Foundation and Hearts.

“We’re honoured to have both the support of Alan and Daniel. Their contributions are indicative of the backing given by the entire fan base as we continue the journey towards fan ownership.”

dad_son

Plot ceremonies

We have been awaiting next season’s fixtures before finalising dates for the next batch of plot ceremonies. A number of you have now reached the 1,000 points required to qualify for an invitation. As a reminder, members will be invited in the order in which they achieve the required level of points and if you fail to respond to two invites we will assume you do not wish to attend. If you have reached the points total and have not yet received an invite, please do be patient and rest assured that we will be in touch.

certificates

Photographs from the ceremonies held in previous months are now available at these links: March and May.

If you have any questions or comments on this month’s blog please feel free to leave them below or direct them to info@foundationofhearts.org. Any questions regarding the Stadium Funding proposal should be addressed to info@foundationofhearts.org.

May 2016

In May the Foundation shared details of an offer from Bidco which, if accepted, will see the FoH play a key role in funding the redevelopment of Tynecastle. Given the importance of the matter, this month’s blog focuses primarily on the Stadium Funding proposal and includes extracts from the Chairman’s speech from the open meeting at Tynecastle on Monday 16th May.

Stadium Funding

The FoH contacted all members on the 10th of May to confirm that Bidco (Ann Budge’s holding company) has made an offer which would see the existing funding agreement amended and the FoH playing a key role in funding the new stadium redevelopment project at Tynecastle. The Directors view the proposal as being in the best interests of the Foundation and its members as a whole, and hence we recommend that members vote in favor of the proposed resolution. All members should have received an email on the 18th May (or a letter in the post shortly afterward) with details of how to vote. If you have not received your email, please first check your spam folder and then contact us at info@foundationofhearts.org.

Voting will close on Wednesday 25th of May at 12 noon. If you are still undecided or feel like you require further information, here are some quick links to ensure you are fully informed about what is being proposed:

Ann Budge’s offer to amend financial agreement
Stadium Funding FAQs
Club Update from Ann Budge

Chairman’s Speech from Open Meeting

Our thanks to all the members who attended the open meeting at Tynecastle on 16 May. It was very helpful to obtain your feedback, both on the funding proposal and on broader aspects of the Foundation’s activities. For those members not able to attend the open meeting at Tynecastle, what follows is part of the Chairman’s speech to members:

Ladies and Gentlemen, Good evening and welcome to the meeting to discuss the potential changes to the Bidco / Foundation of Hearts funding agreement. My name is Brian Cormack and I am the Chair of the FoH. I also have with me my fellow directors of the Foundation and we will all be available to answer questions later on. With me I have Alastair Bruce, Donald Cumming, Garry Halliday, Barry McGonagle and Louise Strutt.

We plan to give you the details of the proposal from Bidco and then we can answer any questions you may have. We issued a detailed Q&A last week by e-mail but we wanted to make sure that any further questions can be asked this evening.

During last week the Club held four open meetings on the Stadium Development and the Planning Permissions where all issues were discussed, so I would like to keep the questions this evening relating to the funding agreement if possible.

The very fact that we are gathered here tonight considering the future direction of the Foundation and, of course, our club is, for me, beyond extraordinary. Just a couple of years ago, we were staring at an abyss. Heart of Midlothian Football Club, as we all know, was just hours from extinction.

It was saved by a unique and remarkable partnership between the fans of this club and Ann Budge, who stepped up at our moment of crisis to fund the buy-back of shares which ensured the survival of Hearts.

It is a partnership and a singular act by Ann whose story deserves to ring down through all future generations of Hearts supporters. It is a partnership which has, we believe, not only been the catalyst for the most successful fan involvement initiative in Scottish footballing history but also one which has provided a stable foundation for the dynamic, innovative management of the club which has been there for all to see since Ann and her team took control.

And tonight we are here not to look back but – we are very pleased to say – to look forward and discuss some of the detail of that partnership which was created at our club’s darkest hour but has gone on to be a vital cog in a machine which has restored true Hearts values, connected again with supporters and our local community, delivered on-field success, and created a whole host of off-field projects of which we can all be very proud.

We have a huge responsibility to get this right, and I know that it is a responsibility which everyone here recognises.

[The chairman then summarized the proposal to amend the existing funding agreement, and spelled out the process for conducting the members’ vote.]

…In conclusion, I’d like to say this. The directors of the Foundation welcome this offer from Ann and are recommending it to the members. We see this as potentially a fantastic use of Foundation funds for a limited period. What better way for us supporters to see our funds being employed than into the development of the new stand and other improvements at our home at Tynecastle? Yes, it means that the schedule for supporter ownership of the club is possibly put back for a period, but for this delay we are getting a magnificent new stand and, as a gesture of trust, we will have interim hand-overs of shares from Ann to the Foundation.

When the Foundation ultimately becomes the majority shareholder of the Club, we all want it to be in good shape financially and on the field in the physical environment in which we work and play. This change to the funding agreement, we believe, helps to consolidate all of these aspirations and objectives. It reinforces the strong partnership we currently have between the Foundation and the club, and it paves the way for a very bright future. We thank Ann for the offer and we recommend it to our members.

Thank you very much.

Thanking The Fans Day

The club and the Foundation combined to designate the final match at Tynecastle as Thanking the Fans Day. The day was seen as an opportunity to thank all Hearts supporters and we were delighted that the team wore the tribute jersey. Many fans responded by doing likewise. Scott Wilson also broadcast a message before the start of the match, posters around the ground welcomed fans to the day, volunteers from the Foundation and Big Hearts handed out flyers with a thank you message, an LED message was displayed though the match, and the players held up a ‘thank you’ banner before kick-off.

Ann Budge and Foundation chair Brian Cormack issued a joint statement, which included:  “This has been a momentous season – one that has been made possible by the tremendous support by you, the fans. Without you, today – and all the other days in the season – simply would not have happened. So we want to say a massive thank you to you all. You have our unreserved admiration and utmost respect as you continue to prove that Hearts fans are truly the best.”

Thanks

If you have any questions or comments on this month’s blog please feel free to leave them below or direct them to info@foundationofhearts.org. Any questions regarding the Stadium Funding proposal should be addressed to info@foundationofhearts.org.

A Reminder

Just a reminder that the vote on the proposed change to the funding agreement closes at 12.00 noon tomorrow (Wednesday). If you haven’t already done so, please do vote on this important issue. Thank you.

April 2016

From administration to European football in the space of two years. April saw the Club reach another tremendous milestone thanks in no small part to the contribution you have made via the Foundation of Hearts……so make some noise…..the Gorgie boys…….are going to Europe………

European nights are back

From relegation and administration to European football in the space of two years. April saw the Club reach another tremendous milestone thanks in no small part to the contribution you have made via the Foundation of Hearts. Robbie and the boys will once again be competing with Europe’s elite. Next season, when we gather under the Tynecastle floodlights on those special European occasions, we hope you all feel a sense of belonging and pride in knowing that you were a key component of restoring the Club to such heights. What an achievement.

Commenting in Edinburgh’s Evening news our Chair Brian Cormack remarked: “Qualifying for Europe is a reward for all Hearts fans. Season ticket sales are at an all-time high, Tynecastle is sold out for every home game, hospitality is full every week,” said Cormack. “The £3.8million provided by the Foundation over the last two years helps give a really stable base for the club to build for the future. Look how far we’ve come in those two years: From Wonga to Save the Children. The memorial garden is opening this summer and the stadium is being redeveloped. The Foundation has had 8000 people pledging for more than two years but the backing from the whole Hearts community throughout that time has allowed this to happen. It’s just an amazing story.”

Lets make some noise…..the Gorgie boys…….are going to Europe………

Memorial garden interview

MemorialIn April our roving reporter Darren Johnstone held an emotional interview with FoH pledger and Hearts fan Evelyn Fleming about the Tynecastle Memorial Garden and what it means to her. This is included below in full, having also been shared on social media and on the FoH website.

Football. It has an inherent capability of evoking a whole range of differing emotions: euphoria, despair, excitement, dread, joy – to name a few.

But it also has a profound ability to stimulate feelings that transcend the four walls of a stadium.

For many fans, our beloved sport becomes the focal point when remembering and cherishing the memories of absent relatives and friends.

A fan’s enduring bond with a club, for example, is often sealed when a parent takes them to their first game as a young boy or girl.

For Hearts season ticket holder Evelyn Fleming, her attendance at Tynecastle is inspired by her late mother Beryl MacDougall.

Beryl was a devoted lifelong fan and her ashes are even buried behind the goals beside the Gorgie stand.

So when Hearts built the Forever in Our Hearts Memorial Garden, the natural thing for Evelyn to do was acquire a plaque in memory of her mum.

“I think the memorial garden is a fantastic idea, especially for people that have been cremated and maybe have nowhere to go,” said Evelyn. “Coming into a memorial garden at Tynecastle, for Jambos, it’s absolutely fabulous.

“My mum was a Jambo all her life and she’d follow them everywhere. Even in the latter years when she couldn’t really do anything about it, she would argue black was white for the Jambos. Her idol was John Robertson.

“Her ashes are also buried behind the goal, we had a wee ceremony. We’re so thankful for the club allowing us to do that, it was something mum would always have wanted.

“I got myself a season ticket this season because it’s somewhere I can come and remember mum.

“It was her passion, I thought I’d come along and I can see her every fortnight and have a wee quiet word, or sit in the garden. It’s great.

“Since mum’s passing, I’ve got Hearts in my own heart now – it just means so much to me because it means so much to her.

“The fact you’ve got a plaque, its something for everyone within the family, whether you’re a Hearts, Hibs, Rangers fan – it doesn’t matter. We all feel really strongly about it.”

The garden was jointly funded by the club and a generous bequest from a fan that was left to the Foundation of Hearts.

The centrepiece of the garden is a 3D bronze and steel sculpture of the club’s iconic crest.

Alongside the crest sits seven benches, each adorning the name of one of the seven Hearts players who lost their lives in The Great War.

Evelyn added: “You can come and remember somebody, you can just sit here and chat with other people or sit in quiet contemplation.

“Even on match days, you’re looking over, thinking, ‘come on mum, you’re here to help’ – and she always does as much as she can.

“What Hearts have done here, it’s bringing the Hearts family together and allowing them somewhere to contemplate their loved ones, it’s somewhere to remember them.

“The ceremony was very emotional and it was such a touching, lovely day. Anyone else that is thinking about it, I think they should because they’ll get a lot from it.”

Marketing update

Our ‘Never Too Late’ campaign continues to drive high levels of engagement on social media and we are grateful to all those who have helped relay the message far and wide. Below are just some of the magic moments we have shared in the last month, can you name the player and the game?

 

Remember_3 Remember_2 Remember_1

 

We reported to you in January that we were working on an email to pledgers who have left the FoH during our two-year journey. In May we will contact each of them with a personal email in the hope of reinvigorating their belief in the Foundation and its role in the future of Heart of Midlothian. Whilst we may not convince them all to return, we also hope to gain insight and feedback on why members have decided to leave the FoH which will help us frame our future member strategy. We will report back through the blog on anything we learn from the process as well as any impact it may have on pledges.

Sticking with the theme of reaching more fans through email, the Club sent a communication on behalf of the FoH in early April to over 49,000 fans registered on the Heart’s database. The email, titled “Keep in touch and look to the future” contained links allowing fans to sign up and receive our monthly blog as well as a link to the “pledge now” page on our website. We won’t know the full impact until next month but we do know at this point that over 8,000 recipients clicked the ‘sign up now’ link and over 11,000 clicked through ‘keep in touch’. The email further underlines our commitment to work as one with the Club and we sincerely hope that we have convinced more fans to join our ranks as a result.

Plot ceremonies

We are currently finalising dates for the next batch of plot ceremonies after having to suspend progress until the post-split fixtures and TV schedule were confirmed. A number of you have now reached the 1,000 points required to qualify for an invitation. As a reminder, members will be invited in the order in which they achieve the required level of points and if you fail to respond to two invites we will assume you do not wish to attend. If you have reached the points total and have not yet received an invite, please do be patient and rest assured that we will be in touch.

If you have any questions or comments on this month’s blog please feel free to leave them below or direct them to info@foundationofhearts.org. Better yet, why not come and see us in person at the next home game. You will find us at the Tynecastle reception on McLeod Street and we are always happy to take your questions.

March 2016

The latest news from the FoH in a month where the team wore the FoH tribute kit at Tynecastle for the first time, picking up three points and solidifying their third place position in the SPL…

A fitting tribute

In what was a momentous moment for all members of the Foundation, the Hearts first team took to the Tynecastle pitch on Saturday 5 March for the game against Partick Thistle wearing the FoH tribute kit. The jersey features the names of the 8,000 supporters who have provided vital financial backing for the club through their pledges to the Foundation. As director Garry Halliday fittingly put in in his video interview: “So many legends have played on the pitch at Tynecastle over the years. Today, all the legends are sitting in the stands.”

Foundation Chair Brian Cormack also commented: “This is a memorable day for all Foundation of Hearts pledgers and is a wonderful gesture by the players as they wear – with pride – the Foundation tribute jersey for the match. In doing so, they pay tribute to the supporters who have played such a massive role in saving the club, in providing a strong foundation which allows it to be so well managed by Ann Budge and her team, and in helping Robbie Neilson to add quality players to his squad. The entire Hearts fanbase has played an extraordinary role in enabling our club to prosper and move forward, and we acknowledge everyone’s part in this achievement.”

The team proudly wearing the FoH tribute kit before kick-off
The team proudly wearing the FoH tribute kit before kick-off

As well as our usual match day reception, representatives from the FoH also spoke to supporters in the Gorgie Suite about the Foundation’s story. A number of new pledgers joined the ranks, proving that it really is never too late to play your part in shaping the future of our football Club.

Whether your name is on the sleeve, chest, armpit or rear; each and every name on the strip is etched into Heart of Midlothian’s history forever. Every pledge makes a huge and lasting difference and we hope you shared our immense pride on this special occasion.

Financial update

Following the anticipated seasonal drop in pledgers reported in our January blog we were very pleased to see pledge numbers return to over 8,000 in March. The increase has been driven by both returning pledgers as well as new fans signing up for the first time. We think that campaigns such as “never too late” and our increased presence in the stands before the match against Motherwell have contributed to the increase and we will continue to push hard on our marketing efforts to ensure the upward trend continues. The increase means total contributions for March were a healthy £127k with an average contribution of £15.98 per member. As ever, we will not rest on our laurels and continue to push hard to increase our membership; the stronger the Foundation, the stronger the Club.

Governance meeting

In early March the FoH Board hosted another successful meeting regarding future governance with executives from HMFC. We are nearing completion of a blueprint which will form the basis of a more formalised governance framework for the FoH and its interaction with the Club at the point it becomes majority shareholder. Above all, the Club must continue to prosper for the fans and the wider community and never again be mismanaged or controlled by one individual. The blueprint will be based on the core principle that the Club should be operated by an appointed and accountable Board and executive team (much like the current structure) with the FoH forming a nurturing and watchful majority shareholder. In this way, transition to fan ownership will be seamless and without impact on the day to day operations of the Club; a point we believe is absolutely essential. More detailed information will be provided to pledgers in due course.

No mystery: Rebus actor is a proud pledger

Earlier this month FoH pledger Ken Stott, known for playing Inspector John Rebus in the TV series of the same name, spoke to us about what being part of the Foundation movement means to him. The interview, published on our website, is shared below for those who may have missed it on social media.

Even with his vast experience in front of the camera, actor and Hearts supporter Ken Stott could not have scripted a more remarkable transformation at Tynecastle.

From being gripped by fear over the genuine prospect of liquidation, to the euphoria of clinching the Championship title and being on the verge of a return to the European stage, Ken – like his Hearts peers – has experienced the roller coaster of emotions.

When the curtain came down on the previous regime, the 61-year-old Rebus actor was only too happy to help play his part in creating a new narrative. Stott was one of the thousands of fans that signed up to the Foundation of Hearts as the supporters’ group plotted a bright new era alongside main protagonist Ann Budge.

“I’m so proud of the Foundation and proud of Ann, Craig (Levein) and Robbie (Neilson) – what a fantastic situation we now find ourselves in,” said Stott.

“To see Heart of Midlothian transformed into something we always wanted it to be, a family club, a club that has warmth.

“We knew that something had to happen and we knew there were enough people that loved the club. It was getting to be pretty hairy at one point but all of a sudden we’ve moved on, and we really are the pride of Scottish football. It’s something we can all be proud of and I’m delighted to have my name on the tribute kit.”

Recalling how he fell in love with Hearts, Stott, who tries to get to games when his busy schedule allows, said: “For me, I was five years old; we were a Hearts supporting family.

“My father, David, was a Hearts supporter. He was brought up in Tollcross, in Lady Lawson Street. He said to me one day, ‘would you like to come to Tynecastle?’ I hadn’t a clue what he was talking about, I thought he was talking about going to see a castle. I thought, ‘well that’s nice, I like castles’.

“I had no idea it was going to be anything like that, what an extraordinary event watching in this massive crowd. Of course, I’d never seen anything like that but I was hooked. I loved the maroon and white, I had no idea what I was looking at to be perfectly honest but it was the Hearts that I liked.”

Stott was thrilled to be in the company of Hearts majority shareholder Budge at the tail end of last season for the Championship title party last March.
He added: “I was very proud to be able to sit beside Ann. It was the first game after Hearts had won the league and we were playing Queen of the South at Tynecastle. That was a tremendous day, I sat next to her in the directors’ box and it was a very proud moment.

“I had a wee tear thinking of my father. He loved Hearts, we stood on the terracing together on many an occasion and there I was in the directors’ box sitting next to Ann Budge – what a lovely feeling that was.”

Ken Stott is #proudtopledge to the FoH
Ken Stott is #proudtopledge to the FoH

For Hearts, it’s Never Too Late

As many of you will have seen on social media and in the matchday programme, we are continuing to run a membership campaign under the heading (and the hashtag) ‘Never Too Late’. The key message is for supporters who have not yet signed up to the Foundation, highlighting that their contributions and support will make a huge difference and that it is not too late to pledge.

We’re using special moments from Hearts matches to get the message over, and club legends such as Willie Bauld, Alfie Conn, Mark Bell (late, late winner in the 1901 Cup Final), Wayne Foster, Osman Sow and Alim Ozturk have already featured. We’ve been getting a great reaction to the campaign and aim to keep it running for a while yet. There have been plenty of ‘never too late’ achievements and we’ve certainly enjoyed doing the research. Thanks for all the feedback so far.

If you have any questions or comments on this month’s blog, please feel free to leave them below or direct them to info@foundationofhearts.org.