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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.