Supporters’ Club deputy chairman Steve Jenkins recently travelled up to Edinburgh as a guest of David Southern the MD of Heart of Midlothian, to represent the O’s at the unveiling of a specially commissioned bronze plaque to commemorate the voluntary enlistment at Tynecastle of thirteen Hearts players in Sir George McCrae’s new battalion of The Royal Scots.
Despite topping the league table, having won their first eight games, these lads exchanged the certainty of honour on the football field for a different kind of honour on a different kind of field. On November 25 1914, immediately after signing their papers in the Tynecastle boardroom, the players were invited to don their famous maroon and white kit for a press photograph at the back of the new grandstand.
Hearts were to lose seven players in the war with many others wounded.
The photograph that was taken that November day has now been transformed as a stunning three-dimensional relief cast in bronze memorial plaque. To add to the poignancy the plaque has been installed in the very place the photograph was taken ninety nine years ago.
The unveiling ceremony recognised the crucial lead given by the Hearts players and also the role played by the Hearts supporters and shareholders – alongside comrades from Raith Rovers, Falkirk, Hibernian and other clubs particularly Clapton Orient Football Club, whose major sacrifice and service with the 17th Battalion Middlesex Regiment was pivotal in clubs in England also joining up at the start of the Great War. The respect and acknowledgement shown towards the O’s by Heart of Midlothian Football Club was emphasised by the fact that Leyton Orient was the only English football club officially invited to attend the unveiling ceremony with Clapton Orient being specially mentioned in the speech just prior to the plaque being unveiled.
Steve was made extremely welcome by Hearts Football Club as well as the representatives of the other Scottish clubs and dignitaries present on the day, and as a gesture of the ongoing friendship being forged between the two clubs, Steve presented David Southern with an O’s Somme badge and scarf along with a Leyton Orient pennant.
It is also planned that the clubs will once again exchange wreaths at this year’s Remembrance commemorations and it is envisaged and hoped that closer ties will be made as the Great War centenary commemorations get underway.
WE WILL REMEMBER THEM