London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Valdas Ivanauskas <-auth Mark Bonthrone auth-> Steve Conroy
[G Bayne 31]
199 of 199 Mauricio Pinilla 20 ;Jamie Mole 43 ;Andrew Driver 81 ;Bruno Aguiar 91 L SPL H

Trophy glory a fitting prize for greatest jambo

m bonthrone

EXPECTATIONS were high at the start of the 1953/54 campaign with a free-scoring Hearts side amongst the favourites to lift the League Championship.

The campaign began brightly but before long, injuries to Alfie Conn, Jimmy Wardhaugh and Willie Bauld saw the dream begin to crumble.

In the end, a determined Tynecastle team stayed in contention until the closing games but the absence of arguably their three most important players proved too much and they ended the season in second place, five points behind eventual winners Celtic.

However, in 1954/55, their success-starved fans were finally given something to cheer about as the first piece of silverware was brought back to Gorgie in almost half a century.

The Jambos defeated Celtic, St Johnstone and Airdrie on the way to the League Cup final where Motherwell stood between the Hearts players and a place in Gorgie folklore.

With Bauld at his magical best the Steelmen stood little chance as the striker orchestrated a 4-2 triumph, banging in a memorable hat-trick himself.

"That was the first national trophy we had won in 48 years," Bauld recalled. "The spontaneous reception we got in Edinburgh was flabbergasting. Our bus could scarcely get along Gorgie Road for the cheering jubilant crowds lining the streets."

More honours were to follow the year after, although this time it was the coveted Scottish Cup that would be proudly displayed in the Tynecastle trophy cabinet.

And the success was no doubt made all the sweeter by the fact that both halves of the Old Firm were disposed of en route.

Rangers were thumped 4-0 in the quarter-finals with Bauld on target twice before he helped the Jambos to a 3-1 triumph in the showpiece game against Celtic at Hampden Park.

By this time injuries were sadly beginning to take their toll on Bauld and he was only a bit-part player when the club finally got their hands on the much sought-after championship crown in 1957/58, Hearts scoring a record 132 goals along the way. And, while delighted to have ended such a long wait for the title, Bauld admitted years later to not feeling entirely part of the triumph.

"Sometimes I'm asked to express my feelings on that first league championship but that would be a bit difficult as I only played nine or ten games," he said. "It will always remain a great regret that I did not play a bigger part in Hearts' fabulous and long overdue league triumph." The Jambos failed in the defence of their championship title the following year, finishing second but they did win the League Cup with Bauld grabbing two goals in a 5-1 thrashing of Partick Thistle in front of 60,000 fans at Hampden Park.

It was Hearts' fourth major honour in just over four years in what would go down as the most successful period in the club's long history.

At 31 some critics were beginning to question whether the man revered as a hero in one half of the city was past his best, but in the 1959/60 season he answered them in the perfect fashion by helping Hearts to the double of the League Cup and League Championship.

Bauld netted the final goal in a 4-4 draw with St Mirren at Love Street, a result that saw his side crowned Scottish champions again.

The Capital club also clinched the League Cup with a 2-1 win over Third Lanark at Hampden although injury ensured Bauld played no part in the game. The King of Hearts finally brought the curtain down on a glorious 15-year career with the club in 1962. His final game in maroon came in a 2-1 win over Third Lanark at Tynecastle.

Summing up his career, Bauld said: "I think I played at the right time. In the years where there was a financial incentive, yet not enough to take the fun out of a match.

"For myself, I haven't made a cash fortune out of football, yet I think I'm one of the wealthiest of all. Wealthy in friendships.

"I've been a one-club man for all these years - Hearts. Would I have been a success elsewhere? That's difficult to answer. The club has just grown on me!"

He was awarded a deserved testimonial match against Sheffield United in the November of that year but, rather than providing a fitting send-off, it created a bitter divide between player and club that would last 14 long-years. After a 2-1 victory over their English opponents Bauld was stunned to discover that the club he had served with distinction for almost a decade-and-a-half had deducted the cost of the match ball from his pay-day.

Incensed and offended by the decision Bauld refused to return to Tynecastle for the next 14 years.

However, as his anger and indignation subsided he did finally make another appearance at his spiritual home in 1976 and was given a rousing standing ovation by everyone in the ground - it was as if he had never been away. Although those that witnessed Bauld's return may not have known it at the time the occasion would prove to be all the more poignant as within a year he was dead.

Bauld was found in his Slateford Road home in bed, the alarm having been raised after piles of newspapers were left uncollected outside his Gorgie Road newsagents.

His sudden passing at only 49 stunned the club's supporters who turned out in their thousands to watch his funeral cortege travel along Gorgie Road, in a fitting tribute to the great man.

Arguably never before or since has a player won a place in the hearts of the Tynecastle outfit's support in the way that Bauld managed to.

The King of Hearts may be dead but the legacy he left behind will never be forgotten.

Taken from the Scotsman

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