Away up in Gorgie
Hearts are Edinburgh's oldest and most successful professional football club. Founded in 1874, they are the only club outside the Old Firm to have completed a League and League Cup double in 1959/60, but are without a top-flight title since.
Their most recent silverware came when they won the Scottish Championship by twelve points to seal a return to the top flight this season, and they have also appeared in two of the last three Scottish Cup finals, narrowly losing out to Celtic on both occasions.
The greatest day in the club's recent history is undoubtedly the 2012 Scottish Cup final when cross-city rivals Hibernian were smashed 5-1 at Hampden Park. Hearts also recently became the UK's largest fan-owned club when Chair Ann Budge's majority was signed over to the Foundation of Hearts at the end of August.
Where will I find them?
Away up in Gorgie at Tynecastle Park! Tynie is one of those wonderfully classic stadiums that materialises once you round a corner in a maze of terraced streets. While there is an irksome sectarian minority, neither club is remotely comparable to their Old Firm rivals. I've had plenty of great days on Tynie's terraces as a Catholic - Hearts supporters tend to be based around central, southern, and western Edinburgh. If you're staying anywhere near George Square Campus, Marchmont, Haymarket, or Bruntsfield you're within walking distance of the Jambos' home.
What is there to do pre and post-match?
It has to be Digger's. On the corner of Angle Park Terrace and the Western Approach is comfortably one of the best pubs in Edinburgh, a proper, quaint, old man pub serving proper beer, pies, and the matchday experience of old. If you fancy the stadium adjacent to Tynecastle Arms, be prepared to set off absurdly early and end up packed in like sardines.
Okay, but are they actually any good?
Hearts' newly promoted status doesn't tell the whole story. A spectacularly awful run during the 2019/20 season under Craig Levein left them doomed, despite a spectacular uptick in form under his replacement Daniel Stendel. Hearts comfortably won promotion at the first time of asking under current boss Robbie Neilson, taking Celtic all the way to penalties in the Scottish Cup final to boot.
Upon their return to the top flight, they've taken 18 points from a possible 24, beaten Celtic on the opening day, and sit one point from the top as the only side still unbeaten.
When I first moved to Edinburgh, I had to abandon my usual visits to the Etihad to see Pep Guardiola's 100 point winning Manchester City side. A Scottish friend took me to Tynecastle to see a spectacular cut and thrust Hearts 4-2 Motherwell, a display of sheer passion and fearsome tempo, and that was that. In the immortal words of Sir Bobby Robson, "What is a club in any case? Not the buildings or the directors or the people who are paid to represent it. It's not the television contracts, get-out clauses, marketing departments, or executive boxes. It's the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging, the pride in your city. It's a small boy clambering up the stadium steps for the very first time, gripping his father's hand, gawping at that hallowed stretch of turf beneath him and, without being able to do a thing about it, falling in love."
Image Credit: Thomas Nugent