Sunday was a good day for me. I'll tell you why. To do that we need to go back to Friday first.
So I'm sitting here on Friday night about 7pm and a message flashed up on my screen. It was a private message from Jambo's Kickback, the fans forum for all good Jambo's, I won't bother sticking in the link because due to all that's going on with Heart Of Midlothian Football Club at present guest viewing is disabled so unless your a member already you won't be able to view it.
Anyway the message is from Scott (aka GodsaJambo) to tell me I've won a competition they were running...my prize?...a pair of corporate hospitality tickets to Sundays game against Rangers compliments of The Diggers bar. Now sadly Geoff is working on Sunday so he can't go with me (hahahaha) so Mum steps in to take advantage of the offer.
Sunday morning arrives and Mum and I arrive at The Diggers at 11am as instructed in our Sunday best appropriately as you need to comply with the dress code...I have never, ever been to the Football before in dress trousers and my good going out coat...it's normally jeans and trainers so this was something new! We're met by the lovely Karl, the bar's owner who is beyond hospitable! The pubs don't open on Sundays until 12.30pm but by the time the doors open for business we've been in for an hour and a half and are on vodka and lemonade number 4! Karl has reserved a table for 10 guests and we meet the remaining 7 who we will be spending the day with...all men and all of them polite, gentlemanly and friendly.
We wander down from the pub at about 12.45pm and head to Tynecastle. We head straight to the Gorgie Suite (a function room within the stadium that I've been in before after the Cup Final parade in May) and are shown by our hostess to our table. First things first and we have a wee toast with the free champagne (real not cava which was nice...I only know because I'm not keen on champagne but can drink cava by the bottle!). We got stuck into the bottled beer supplied in the ice buckets on the tables and filled our wine glasses before handing in a substantial bar order for some spirits to wash it down with. Then it was on to serious business as we all studied the football coupons to check the match betting and stuck on our respective flutters! By the time our soup was served at 1.15pm we were all the best part of 9 drinks in and were all chatting away like we'd known each other for years!
The MC pulled a few well kent faces from the past on stage for a their opinions on what's happening at Hearts (mad owner, Captain dropped, not won since September, fans in uproar, protests, another new caretaker coach, our "real" manager still off on sick leave, mad tactics, crazy team selections, etc, etc) Gary Mackay was his usual diplomatic self but Dave McPherson who has played for both clubs was a bit more blunt in his responses! The team for the day was read out and the raised eyebrows and sighs went round as it now customary at Hearts these days! Gary came over for a chat and we got a few photos for prosperity and him and Dave signed everyone's programmes as did another couple of old Hearts legends Freddie Glidden and Jimmy Murray who incidently was the first man to score for Scotland in a World Cup Finals. Jimmy was lovely and stopped to chat for quite a while telling us a few funny tales from days gone by! At 1.50pm we headed out and up to our seats in the stand.
45 minutes of nothing much later and we were back inside eating pies and sausage rolls and drinking coffee to heat us all back up again. We spent a few mnutes discussing our man of the match choice. As Karl was the days match sponsor out table got to choose a man of the match, it was looking like Brellier or Bruno would be getting the honour but we had until 10 minutes before the final whistle to decide. The bar order was duly deposited for our return and we went back out for the second half. The final result was not what we'd hoped for...Rangers edged it 1-0 in a game that was really 2 off form teams struggling against each other but to be fair none of us were too upset about it...must have been the drink! We had a democratic vote on our man of the match midway through the second half and Paul Hartley edged out...just I think for his passion and running more than anything else and possibly to show a bit of backing to him after recent times.
Back in the warmth of the Gorgie Suite, Karl was most insistent we make full use of the bar and at one point I'm sitting there with 4 vodka's and a glass of wine in front of me. We tucked into our main courses and Karl asked if I would go on stage to accept the match sponsors gift from the club and present the man of the match champagne on behalf of The Diggers when the time came! So about 10 minutes later I'm making my way onto the stage to be presented with a signed rangers shirt and a signed hearts shirt all encased in a huge frame which I received from none other than Scotland's number 1...Craig Gordon, who smells lovely and has ridiculously soft hands! Photos were taken and it was all good.
We drank our way through our orders, finished our desserts and placed our final drinks order of the day...doubles all round. We had received the usual free gift...this time it was a 2007 hearts diary as well as the minature of whisky (which some of the men had drunk before the game and a few others took up to the stand for a wee dram during it...but Karl told the waitress after the game that we'd left them on the table and they'd been nicked and she duly brought 10 more), the programme and team sheets but Karl was after scarves and after a bit of persuasion we were presented with new Hearts scarves worth a silly £13.50 each! At 6pm after outstaying our welcome by almost an hour and being among the last to leave...we headed back up to The Diggers for a wee refreshment to finish of the day! Mum wandering up arm in arm with her new best friend George discussing the world at large!
Karl was a great host and the rest of the guys...well we couldn't have wished for better company for the day...I hope I will come across each and every one of them again in the future. I reckon I must have scooped the best part of 16 drinks on Sunday in 6 and a half hours if you minus the 90 minutes match time! Not bad going really!
If you're ever in Edinburgh and in need of a pint...I demand you go to The Diggers...it's the home of heavy don't you know!