London Hearts Supporters Club

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John McGlynn (Caretaker) <-auth George Foulkes auth-> John Underhill
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‘We supporters are caught between a rock and a hard place . . .’

GEORGE FOULKES November 02 2005

'We supporters are caught between a rock and a hard place . . .'

When I took on the chairmanship of Hearts, everyone advised me against it. But afterwards, many confessed they knew I could not resist the temptation and the challenge.

To start with, I thought I should have taken their advice. Turning around the decision to sell Tynecastle and move to Murrayfield gave me sleepless nights. But, by the start of October this year, it seemed we had the perfect formula.

George Burley had been named the manager of the month two months in a row.

Phil Anderton had overseen near doubling of season ticket and merchandise sales, generated a new harmony between club and supporters, got the pitch to comply with UEFA standards and made many more improvements.

And Vladimir Romanov had provided just enough finance to make it all possible. Romanov was, it should be recalled, the only person who came forward to provide necessary funds and he deserves credit for that.

But it was Hobson's Choice. None of the other proposals, including some well-publicised plans, ever turned into real money. So now, even with all our recent problems, we cannot blame ourselves for making the wrong choice.

Unless we would have been content to be playing at Murrayfield with crowds struggling to get into five figures and the team struggling to stay in the top six.

But all Hearts fans share the vision of challenging the Old Firm for Champions League places and winning cups.

Although I have expressed my strong disagreement with the current style of management at Hearts, that will not stop me supporting the club and the team as I have done for a quarter of a century.

I think it was wrong to sack Phil Anderton. No reasons were given by those who put the proposal to the board. In retrospect, it was also wrong to part company with George Burley and the board were bounced into doing it.

But where do we go from here? We fans are caught between a rock and a hard place. We want our team to win and our club to do well, whoever is in charge.

We also know that, just as when he arrived, Romanov is still the only show in town. In time, no doubt, he will find a manager who accepts his dictate on player signings but also his good coaching ability.

Also, there may be a top-level chief executive who is willing to work to orders, although the search won't be easy. But we have to hope that such people exist. If they do, then Hearts could continue to challenge the Old Firm and the off-field improvements started by Phil Anderton.

If this happens, those of us who could not stand the ruthlessness of the Romanov regime may be subject to criticism. However, I would rather that Hearts prosper even if I have to eat humble pie, than see my team slump.

That is why I will be in my old stand seat on Saturday and urge all fans to be there also. A boycott will not help and is never constructive. We can back the team without needing to shower the owner with adulation.

I will sit much more easily in the Wheatfield Stand surrounded by old friends than I would have done in the directors' box backing a regime lacking in compassion and common sense.

George Foulkes, Lord Foulkes of Cumnock, chairman of Heart of Midlothian Football Club April 2004 – October 2005.

Taken from the Herald

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