Just when did the Heart of Midlothian play in Morocco? It's been a much-asked, never-answered question. But it was on one of the Legendary London Hearts Heroes' trips to see the Boys In Maroon that we stumbled on the origins of this mystery - and its conclusion.
We were in the Gottlieb-Daimler Stadium in Stuttgart (roughly translated it means "God Loves Daimler") when we caught sight of a small handpainted sign atop a wooden pole, proclaiming "South Morocco and District Hearts Supporters Club (incorporating Northern Chad Jambos)" that we knew we were on the right trail.
Beneath it stood a wizened old man holding his placard much akin to a Roman centurion's standard, his face weatherbeaten and tanned.
In his other paw was gripped a cast-iron crawmill, and it was givin' it plenty.
"Cameroon the Herrrts!" he shouted, and for a minute we thought we was vending Lees' most famous confectionery, a legend through the length and breadth of wee Scottish fitba' grounds. By the end of the game, though, he had vanished, and it wasn't until we were half-way out of the stadium when we saw him at the side of the Strasse. By this time he'd turned his banner around, and it advertised "Spam Rolls A Pound."
"Excuse me," I said timidly.
"Hallo boys, what's to be now, don't all push. You want couscous on yur roll?"
His accent had a little bit of the Berber about it, and his breath had a bit more of the El Dorado about it.
"I hope you don't mind me asking, but - aren't you somebody famous?" He turned towards the light, drew himself up to his full 5'5 and declared " The name's Lightbulb.
James Jehosophat Lightbulb, ex- Heart of Midlothian FC, at yer service pal. Whit's the gemme?"
Having ensconced Jimmy Lightbulb at a table outside one of the many Wunderbars in Stuttgart with a paid-for beer and a tape recorder, it was obvious he had a tale to tell and was keen to tell it to an avid audience.
"It was in 1939, when Hearts were on their usual pre-season tour of Norway.
Out of the blue the SFA received an invitation to the World Club Championships, and Hearts, being the current holders of the Rosebery Cup, were the natural choice.
Trouble was, the first team was stuck in Stavangar having just won some wee tourney beating Kaiserslaughterin' using the old 6-3-3 formation.
All available transport had been commandeered, so we phoned Park Gardens and told Ernie Walker the deal's off.
But he said the SFA was adamant - they were sure it would swing the Scottish bid to host the 1942 World Cup their way - so we had to put out a team.
"Well, as soon as the call came we had to move fast. We nipped up the road to the Nirvana and rounded up as many of the reserves as we could find. True to our traditions, every one of them answered the call and signed up straight away. Sitting in the booth next to the window was the half-back line of Anderson, Sandison and Grandison - the "Terrible Trio" they were known as…. "
"Why was that?" I asked.
"Cause they were bloody awful!" he said, scornfully.
"We had a couple of Italians -
Ernesto Wincestori, he was one of them -
they were on holiday in Embra when the war broke out."
"But Italy didn't enter the war till 1941,"
I pointed out.
"Aye, well, they surrendered just to be on the safe side. They were going to be interned and put to hard labour, but came tae the Hearts instead. They were working in Luca's in Musselburgh for a while.
They served ice-creams to Billy Brown and Jackie McNamara, who were always fighting each other over money they'd got in a scramble.
They always had the same thing - Jackie had a 99 and Billy always got a lot of raspberry."
"Who was the other Italian?"
"Oh, Roberto Garbaggio? He defected as soon as we docked in Casablanca.
I think he went to fight for the Italians in Ethiopia,
'cause when he jumped off the boat and legged it,
I'm sure he shouted "Abyssinia!"
"Ephraim Sprott came to us on trial - he was arrested for housebreaking - and Wilf Boag wiz a genius with the ball at his feet. He wiz nae good at fitba', like, but he could do long divisions sums in his head."
"So how did the team line up?"
He scratched his head, and took another deep gulp of beer.
"In goals was Harry Harty, huge ugly guy he was - he took size 42 boots;
Anderson, Sandison and Grandison;
Boag, Sprott, Walker, Lightbulb and Ernesto Wincestori."
"We arrived late just in time to see the end of the first game -
Timbuktoo Town two Tripoli three, someone said - didnae have a clue what he was goin' on aboot, mind - and we were on next.
We'd been drawn against Dynamo Vladivostock and shared nine goals with them in a thriller.
Unfortunately they were a wee bitty selfish and scored all nine.
Or rather, I should say WE did.
Carruthers senior had a total nightmare, and scored nine-own goals.
We had to dress him up like a woman to smuggle him out of the ground afterwards - he took to wearing the wig on several occasions afterwards, so I heard.
I think the game was broadcast live on Radio Marrakesh - Alastair Alexander was there doing the commentary.
We stumbled into some classy howff efterwards - Mick's or Dick's or something.
"Of all the joints in all the world you bunch of drunks have to come into my place," he says.
"Why the long faces?"
"Ach, " I said, "The gemme's a bogey," and he gave us the funniest look imaginable.
Still, there wiz a wee African-American behind the joanna and he belted oot the Hearts Song.
"Play it again" we said.
And he did.
Twenty-two times in a row - come to think of it, he made up a song about that on the spot an a' - and he had a great big smile on his face.
Couldnae tell you why.
Perhaps he knew something we didn't."
"What happened when you got home?" we all wondered.
"Ah, well… there was a wee bit of local trouble going on in Europe at the time, so I just stayed behind. Started a wee business selling Hearts scarves and badges. I tried flogging the strips we'd left behind, but they were made of Mercerised cotton and fell to bits after a couple of days. So now I run a North African fast-food chain called Chick P Young's. I don't get to games as much as I'd like, but once a Hearts man always a Hearts man. Oh, if you see Walter Kidd, will you say hallo to him for me? Cheers boys."
And he was gone.
We salute The Lightbulb - a Hearts Great.
(With grateful thanks to Still Mustn't Grumble and the Legendary Viva Hearts Supporters Club)