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Football, Moral Integrity

Hearts Admin Part 2: McCrae’s Battalion honour

McCrae Battalion pic

As mentioned in the previous post on Heart of Midlothian Plc’s Administration:

  1. The vast majority of Heart of Midlothian Plc’s Unsecured Creditors never got paid, apart from the Football Debt to comply with SFA/SPFL rules.
  2. Hearts got out of administration writing off debts of £27.472m out of £28.424m owed to crditors

However it’s not the large debts of Ukio (£15.5m) & UBIG (£8m) being disposed of, for £2.4m & £70k respectively, but two small up-paid bills that are unsettling.

Hearts Creditors List

The full detailed list is kindly supplied by the Edinburgh News 1 August 2013. Lots of ‘face painters’ here but of all the unpaid bills there is firstly this item reported in the Herald.

hearts wreath

In BDO, the administrator’s, statement: The Herald had let Hearts off with the 80 pence.

Lady Haig Debt in BDO

Also McCrae’s Battalion Trust were owed £100. This charity was set-up in 2006 to preserve the history of the McCrae’s Battalion. 

McCrae Battalion Trust 100 pounds owed BDO

McCrae’s Battalion

McCrae’s Battalion, this was the name given to the 16th battalion of the Royal Scots. This regiment that the Hearts players joined up to fight the Germans in WWI ended up in. The picture above shows the Hearts team including that group of players proudly wearing their jerseys the day they enlisted.

McCrae’s was the first ‘footballers’ Pals battalions and the inspiration for the others Pals regiments that formed in England. Hearts were leading the Scottish League in November 1914 when Sir George McCrae was given permission to raise a battalion in Edinburgh & surrounds. 11 Hearts players, 6 from the first team & 5 from the second decided to join up in August 1914.  This act inspired many of their fans to also join up. Plus other footballers from Raith Rovers, Falkirk, Dunfermline, East Fife and St Bernard’s signed on while 150 Hibernian fans also joined.

Robin Scott-Elliot’s article in the Independent, on the 1st August 2014, written just a few days before the 100 year anniversary, poetically describes when Hearts beat Celtic 2-0 at Tynecastle:

Scott Elliot article 1

Scott Elliot article 2.PNG

Scott Elliot article 3

However with players trying to balance the demands of army training as well as training & playing football took their toll on Hearts performance on the field in the second half of Scottish League Division One 1914-15. 

Robin Scott Elliot’s article describes the second half of that season:

Scott Elliot article 4

So how did the league end up? Well Celtic won by 4 points. From Wikipedia:

Scottish League Division 1 1914 15

During WWI Celtic claimed 4 titles in a row, 1914-15 being the first.

Meanwhile in England from Wikipedia, ‘Between 1915 and 1919 competitive football was suspended in England. Many footballers signed up to fight in the war and as a result many teams were depleted, and fielded guest players instead.’

When the casualties started mounting there was a public backlash against professional football when men were dying. From The Royal Scots site:

Campaign against professional football early WWI

Sir George had 3 of his sons serving and at first he was reluctant to be overtly involved in recruitment. With the casualties mounting, Sir George asked permission to raise a battalion, fatefully he was a Hearts fan & a director and with the battalion based in Edinburgh, Hearts became part of the efforts to raise the numbers. Hence the 11 Hearts players joined up.

Several players were killed during the conflict with others returning with their health damaged resulting in early deaths. Their stories are laid out on this British Legion page.

Sir George McCrae’s Death

On Remembrance Day 1928, Sir George McCrae wrote a letter to one of his former officers. Five weeks later he was dead. Part of what he wrote, from the British Legion site:

British Legion George McCrae

“When we meet our comrades in that better place we are able to say with a brave heart that we did not let them down”.

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