April 2015 Dinner
As a memorable season drew to a close we were delighted to have as guests at our annual Player of the Year Dinner three key members of the Championship winning team, Jamie Walker, Alim Ozturk and James Keatings.
The Chairman started proceedings by presenting Jamie Walker with his well-deserved Player of the Year Trophy and intimating that all first team players had received votes proving that although Jamie had had an outstanding season, at the end of the day it was a team effort that had brought the Championship Trophy to Tynecastle.
The winners of the Poppy jersey as well as our sponsored players, Alim and James were drawn out of the hat and three of our members went home armed with the jerseys very happy indeed.
All this excitement was followed by a lively Q and A session with the players.
Alim was asked if he understood the comments made after his wonder goal against Hibs in that it could never happen again. Alim reminded us to great cheers that he repeated the feat in the next game against Raith Rovers!!
When asked what was the pivotal game that won the League the replies varied. Jamie said it was the first game against Rangers in August. James reckoned it was the 2-1 win against Queen of the South at Palmerston while Alim said it was the 2-0 home victory against Rangers which had made the points differentiation a huge nine points.
Their own choices of Player of the Year were firstly, James, who chose the Association choice Jamie Walker whilst both Alim and Jamie went for Morgano Gomis.
There was a discussion about who would join Hearts in the Premiership. James brought cheers from the audience by saying both Rangers and Hibs would both fail to win promotion (he was right!!) while Jamie hoped Hibs would come up as he enjoys playing and beating them! Alim sat on the fence and said it would be either Rangers or Hibs.
Jim opened his presentation by intimating that Big Hearts Football in the Community under the direction of Allan White is still very active but is now under the umbrella of the Club and is based at the Academy at Riccarton.
The principal focus of Big Hearts will be on the emerging new area of Kinship Care. Jim gave an
In-depth overview of this together with a number of real life stories to illustrate how it operates in practice. In essence it will be supporting children in our community who have been moved from their parents for social reasons but will be looked after by other relatives. Whilst Big Hearts will not be providing direct support they will be working in tandem with Social Services to support the children cope with these circumstances. (The announcement of the Club’s link up with Save the Children looks a perfect match for the work going to be done by Big Hearts).
Following the Big Hearts presentation, the Chairman introduced our next guests, BBC pundits and journalists Brian McLauchlin and Alan Preston. Alan, of course is a former player and Manager and can include Hearts as one of the teams he played for.
Brian began proceedings with praise for Big Hearts and wished them well. He also said that a number of Clubs were looking at Hearts and the way in which the Club is being run. Alan reiterated his comments from a previous visit to the Association in praising the contribution of the fans, both financially and emotionally supporting the Club, which was a huge factor in keeping the Club alive through very difficult times.
In the subsequent Q and A the standard of refereeing in Scotland was raised more than once! Alan and Brian said refereeing in Scotland is in a shocking state. Willie Collum and Craig Thomson have refereed the most games so far this season and despite being our top referees continue to attract controversy. Due to lack of numbers looking to become referees most are fast tracked through the system with very little match experience behind them. Brian also mentioned that in the recent Dundee United Celtic games, one player committed 24 fouls with no yellow cards given.
When asked if he would encourage young players to stay with Hearts Alan said that it is really up to the players but Hearts would not indulge in lavish spending to recruit a player as in previous years.
The issue of fan ownership was raised and Brian mentioned a number of hurdles which have to be overcome.
1. Is the stadium fit for purpose? The main Stand is not fit for purpose and decisions will have to be made
about its future. The current structure of the stadium means no more revenue can be generated from it.
2. Will support continue at a reasonable level especially if the team loses a few games?
3. Will season ticket numbers be maintained?
4. Possible dressing room unrest
The transition to fan ownership will not be easy and both Alan and Brian hope that Ann Budge will stay with the Club beyond her stated term.
It was agreed that Hearts improving financial situation would be enhanced next season by sponsorship and TV monies.
On the subject of technology both were of the opinion that whilst certain aspects of it are costly a simple monitoring system beside the fourth official would ensure that more decisions are given correctly.
Both Alan and Brian finishing their very lively session by voicing their support for summer football and doing away with varying kick off times to please the TV companies. The point was made that Sky and BT have very little football to broadcast during the summer and it might well be financially lucrative for the Scottish Clubs to have their games broadcast during the summer months. Not to mention better pitches and more pleasant weather for the fans!
Brian and Alan said they thanked the members for their invite and said they were only too happy to come, and everyone was of the opinion that hopefully it will not be too long before they are back with us again.
Thank you too to Jim and Lawrence from Big Hearts for coming along to tell us their story and we look forward to hearing about their progress in the future.
To sum up, two very different presentations very well received from our members. Thank you everybody.