David Johnston has fond memories of Hearts and Murrayfield

David Johnston, right, in action, having chosen rugby over football. Picture: Jack Crombie.
David Johnston, right, in action, having chosen rugby over football. Picture: Jack Crombie.
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David Johnston has recalled how he was the first Hearts player to experience Murrayfield after also becoming a Scotland rugby international.

As work continues on the new stand at Tynecastle, Craig Levein’s side take on St Johnstone on Saturday in the second of three games at the 67,000-seater stadium. And former midfielder Johnston has reflected on having played both professional football and rugby.

The 58-year-old joined the Gorgie club in 1977 and made his debut against Dundee. But with Johnston combining his Hearts career with his pursuit of a law degree, he was released by the club a year later.

The Edinburgh-born sportsman then joined Watsonians rugby club and went on to make 27 appearances for Scotland, the highlight being a try against England in the 1984 Grand Slam Five Nations 
triumph.

Johnston said: “It’s 40 years ago that I signed for Hearts and started playing. I ran parallel rugby and football careers when I was younger, so I was playing three games a weekend – two football and one rugby.

“When the opportunity came to join Hearts I was going to Edinburgh University to study law so it made sense.”

Johnston still has vivid recollections of his only competitive outing for Hearts, which ended on a sour note when he sustained a long-term injury in a 2-1 victory over Dundee.

He added: “We had a pretty strong team and I was picked for the league match against Dundee in 1977. The atmosphere was incredible. A full house, first home league game of the season. But I got a stress fracture in my foot and I couldn’t really get going after that.

“I had been full-time at Hearts but I started university and when I came back I was a part-timer. Being a part-timer, getting back into the first team was hard and I didn’t make it.

“I enjoyed playing rugby and football equally but there was no way I was going to give up a legal career. I think I made the right decision.”