London Hearts Supporters Club

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John McGlynn (Caretaker) <-auth Mark Wilson auth-> John Underhill
Jankauskas Edgaras [G Buezelin 78] ;[G O'Connor 80]
60 of 099 ----- L SPL A

Public face of Tynecastle revolution turns away

MARK WILSON November 01 2005

Sometimes even lapdogs can bite back if upset by their masters. The portrayal of George Foulkes in such passive terms may be unfair, given a lengthy political career in which debate was rarely shirked, but it was a widely held perception that he was among the most loyal of Vladimir Romanov's followers. That changed yesterday when he resigned in protest from his position as Hearts chairman.

Just 11 days ago, Foulkes was publicly acclaiming Romanov as the man to lead Hearts to their promised land when the Lithuanian launched his bid for sole control of the club. "A great day for Hearts," he enthused, after agreeing to sell his own small shareholding. Twenty-four hours later, Foulkes was thrust before the media to bat back questions about the hugely controversial departure of George Burley.

With the mastery of his parliamentary profession, the words came forth without any answers or explanations. In that position, no doubt an uncomfortable one even accounting for his well of experience, the 63-year-old surely did not imagine his own exit would fuel the next instalment of the turmoil at Tynecastle.

Foulkes had been the public face of the Romanov revolution with a relentless media ubiquity. Barely a sports section could be opened or football radio slot tuned in without one being informed of another colourful quote from his lips. His dander rose at the same rate as Hearts' on-field success and Foulkes' final tabloid-temping snippet was to declare Celtic as their only realistic rivals for the SPL crown.

He was appointed chairman in April last year and played an important role in healing the bitter divisions within the Hearts' family under Chris Robinson. Foulkes won popularity among supporters by urging a year's delay in plans to move from Tynecastle before helping ease the transition of power when Romanov appeared as, he then thought, a white knight. Foulkes expressed his reservations about the dismissal of John Robertson at the tail-end of last season but gave his backing to Romanov's vision of the future. The decision to remove Phil Anderton as chief executive could not, however, be approved.

His route to the Tynecastle boardroom was unusual. Born in the Shropshire town of Owestry he was educated at Keith Grammar and Haberdashers Aske's, a private school in London, before graduating from Edinburgh University. It was there that Foulkes was bitten by the political bug, later becoming president of the Scottish Union of Students and sitting as part of the Labour group on Lothian council.

He served two Ayrshire parliamentary seats for 26 years before moving to the upper house this year as Lord Foulkes of Cumnock. His love of Hearts even permeated the most embarrassing moment of his Westminster career; a fine in September 1993 for being drunk and disorderly in London. After this brush with the law, Foulkes headed straight to Heathrow to board a plane for Spain, where the Tynecastle side were playing Atletico Madrid.

That strong affection for the club, it can be safely presumed, will survive even this traumatic development in Romanov's ruthless reign.

Taken from the Herald

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