Friday, 29 October 2010

Club demands return of memorial to Great War heroes

The following appeared in The Scotsman as well as several other publications.

In my opinion, I think this is a little of a fuss over nothing. Unlike some memorials, this one still exists and will be back in its rightful place before too long. Some memorials don't have that luxury...

Heart of midlothian FC have demanded the club's memorial to mark the fallen of the Great War be reinstated to its rightful spot at Haymarket before next year's Remembrance Service, after the tramsworks forced the event to be moved to Tynecastle Stadium again this year.

The clock tower was erected in tribute to the men of the table-topping 1914 squad, who enlisted en masse for the 16th Royal Scots Battalion, raised by politician and businessman Sir George McCrae. They were the first professional players in Scotland to do so, but were soon joined by players from Hibernian, Falkirk, Dunfermline, Raith Rovers and East Fife.

Known as the Sportsman's Battalion, they were involved in the Battle of the Somme and, of the 13 Hearts players who left for war, only six returned.

The war memorial was gifted to the city in 1922 and was the focal point for Remembrance Sunday services before the controversial tramworks forced its temporary removal. For a second year, next month's service will be held at Tynecastle instead, disappointing Hearts managing director David Southern, who says the club is now fighting to ensure a return to Haymarket in time for 2011.

Mr Southern said: "We had hoped that the memorial would have been reinstated by now and it would be there this year, but that's not the case, so we will again hold it at Tynecastle.

"But we do feel that it loses some of it's poignancy.

"The positioning of the Heart of Midlothian War Memorial at Haymarket is as important to the club as keeping the stadium at Tyencastle. It is something we feel very strongly about, and we want to preserve and protect it.

"We have made it clear to Edinburgh Council that we will be lobbying hard to have it back in its rightful place for next year, whether the work on the tramlines is delayed or not."

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