Hearts fans launch statue honour plan for war heroes

A FUNDRAISING campaign will be launched tonight to build a statue in tribute to the Hearts players and supporters who volunteered to serve in the First World War.

The 16th Royal Scots, dubbed McCrae’s Battalion, included all 13 players in the Hearts first team, many of whom volunteered on the pitch after a recruitment speech by Sir George McCrae at the December 1914 derby, and were joined by scores of supporters.

The 1914 Memorial Trust, set up by supporters, plans to build a statue of a soldier with a football in time for the centenary of the start of the war in 2014.

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Hearts heroes including Jimmy Murray, Gordon Marshall and Alec Young will attend the launch in the Gorgie Suite at Tynecastle tonight.

Committee member John Hunter said: “This is not a war memorial because we’ve already got the one at Haymarket, it’s a tribute to all the guys that volunteered that day, for their courage and bravery.”

The battalion eventually comprised 600 men, including many players and officials from other clubs who followed the lead of the Hearts squad.

Three of the Hearts players were among the 21,000 men killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in July 1916. In all, seven members of the first team were killed in the war.