Celtic Park, May 16, 1998. Hearts 2 Rangers 1. At 23 years old, I had never seen Hearts win anything aside from the Tennents’ Sixes. Of course, we went close in 1986 but enough of that.
Being a Hearts fan I expected us to lose this game. Thirty seconds in, and Willie Young was pointing to the spot – a Hearts penalty! Unbelievable!
Colin “Mickey” Cameron steps up against the best goalie in the UK at the time and BANG! Hearts 1 Rangers 0. The dream start, or not if you’re a Hearts fan. After the celebrating the thoughts of “too early” and “now we’ve angered them” were creeping in. This was the swansong game for this Rangers team, Walter Smith was leaving.
However, this was also the Hearts team of Adam, Flogel, Salvatori, Weir, Rousset, Fulton, Mickey, McCann, Ritchie, McPherson and Naysmith.
I don’t remember the rest of the first half apart from us playing well.
The second half comes, here we go. Rangers have McCoist on the bench, he’s their talisman. Except we had our own talisman – or men. Rousset clears, it gets played on to Stephane Adam, he leaves Amoruso for dead and rifles a shot at an angle past Goram. Bedlam, absolute bedlam. I’m hugging everyone, we’re in shock, it’s just amazing. This is going to be it….
The game goes on, we’re two up, 30 minutes to go, 20 minutes to go, 12 minutes to go. On comes Super Ally. He’ll score, surely, and then they’ll score again.
Time slowed down, McCoist shoots, Rousset saves. McCoist, or someone, shoots again, Rousset saves again. Weir, Davie Mac, Ritchie are immense. Finally, McCoist scores. But Gilles isn’t letting him have another one.
Ninety minutes are up, Willie Young will not blow his whistle. I’m standing, as are 30,000 other Hearts fans, my scarf is over my face, I’m saying over and over and over, “Just blow the ****** whistle”. Eventually, after five days of injury time, the final whistle goes.
I’m crying, people around me are crying. Tears of sheer, unbridled joy. Best football day ever.