Saturday 23 October 1954 was a dreich afternoon in Glasgow. The many thousands of Hearts fans who had just seen their team defeat Motherwell 4-2 in the final of the Scottish League Cup at Hampden Park probably didn't care about the weather. This was the first major trophy their club had won in nearly half a century, and celebrations were the order of the day. Those who watched club captain Bobby Parker hold the trophy aloft that day might have been even happier if they had known that they were witnessing the beginning of the most successful period in the club's history, before or since.
The seasons from 1954/55 to 1962/63 were without a shadow of a doubt Heart of Midlothian Football Club's "Golden Years". During a period of a decade, Hearts won the League Championship twice and were runners up twice; they won the League Cup four times and were beaten finalists once; they won the Scottish Cup once; and they played in Europe in three of those seasons. Perhaps the highlight was winning the Scottish League in 1958 with a remarkable 62 points and 132 goals, and only one league defeat during the season.
"Hearts: The Golden Years" by Tom Purdie is a joyful celebration of this decade, of Hearts' achievements, and of the role that many individuals played in bringing this remarkable success about. The book begins with an introduction to Hearts Football Club: welcome for general readers, though most who buy the book will know the outline of the story already. There is then a chapter giving an outline of the achievements of the Golden Years, and this is followed by individual chapters on each of the nine seasons during the era.
Each season's chapter gives the story of the club's progress in the League Cup, the League Championship and the Scottish Cup and it is here, in the main body of the book, that the nice combination of text and illustration comes to the fore. Pictures are monochrome, but include a wide variety of material extending from photographs of teams and of particular incidents during matches to programme covers, and press coverage. The perfect gift for the Hearts supporter in your life!