Author Anthony Brown answers some questions about Reminiscing with Legends - Hearts’ exhilarating journey to Scottish Cup glory in 1998........
Q: Why did you decide to write a book about this particular subject?
A: As an Edinburgh-based football writer born in the 1980s, the three most significant footballing events to occur in this part of the world in my lifetime so far are Hearts’ Scottish Cup victories in 1998 and 2012, as well as Hibs’ Scottish Cup win in 2016. While the details of Hearts and Hibs’ most recent triumphs are relatively fresh - and there is already plenty accessible content relating to those seismic events - I felt there was scope to dig deeper into the story of how Hearts won the Scottish Cup in 1998; the back-story of each individual involved; how the team was built; and the journey that took them - individually and collectively - to a point whereby they became bona fide Heart of Midlothian legends. With the passing of time having allowed this victory to be placed in more context and all of those at the heart of the story having now retired from playing and managing, I was keen to discover how they reflect on the events that led to them being cast as part of one of the most revered sides in Hearts’ entire history.
Q: What can I expect from Reminiscing with Legends?
A: A lengthy and captivating read, packed with fascinating detail, anecdotes, emotive recollections and insight from life inside mid-to-late-1990s Hearts. No matter how Hearts are performing at the time the book is released, Reminiscing with Legends will guarantee you an uplifting football-related experience in the closing months of 2020.
Q: Have you had good access to those at the heart of the story?
A: Yes. The book is built around exclusive, in-depth interviews I have conducted with players, management and several other people linked to Hearts in the period in question. All those I have spoken to - including every player who took to the field in the 1998 final - have been very co-operative and enthusiastic about reliving their memories for the book, and for that I am extremely grateful.
Q: I’m not old enough to remember the 1998 cup win - will I still enjoy it?
A: If you have any interest in finding out all the finer details of how one of the greatest Hearts teams in history came to fruition, this book is for you. If you want to know exactly why John Robertson is so revered, this book is for you. If you want to know why foreign players like Stefano Salvatori, Thomas Flögel, Stephane Adam and Gilles Rousset became so highly regarded in Gorgie, this book is for you. If you want to know why so many Hearts supporters were thrilled when Jim Jefferies returned to Tynecastle as an advisor this summer, this book is for you. If you want to know, in great detail, how Hearts prepared for the Scottish Cup final and how they celebrated in the hours and days that followed, this book is for you. It will give you a good idea of the level of torment your Hearts-supporting parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles had to go through before they got the type of joy you were lucky enough to experience so early in your football-following life in 2006 and 2012.
Q: I don’t support Hearts - will I still enjoy it?
A: Perhaps not if you’re a Hibs or Rangers supporter! As anyone who follows Scottish football will be aware, however, it takes a special team to give Rangers and Celtic a genuine run for their money in the title race. It is 35 years (and counting) since any side outwith Glasgow’s big two won the league but Jim Jefferies’ Hearts came closer than most in 1997/98, and then backed up their claims to be a team of substance by defeating a formidable Rangers outfit in a Scottish Cup final. Even if you don’t support Hearts, this was a side worthy of respect from anyone who follows Scottish football. If you’re interested in the nuts and bolts of one of the most exceptional Scottish teams to emerge from outside Glasgow in this period of Old Firm dominance, this book is very much for you.
Q: How would you summarise the process of writing the book?
A: In short, it has been the most fulfilling project I’ve ever embarked on professionally. It has been challenging at times; mentally, akin to preparing for and running a marathon in regard that the finishing line has always seemed so far off in the distance. However, every interview and completed chapter has provided a major source of inspiration and satisfaction. I am massively excited about getting my hands on the finished product, and hope you are too.