Thank you

Travelling back along the M8 from Glasgow to Edinburgh last Wednesday, I experienced a similar sense of exhilaration and accomplishment to that which I imagine Jim Jefferies and his triumphant Hearts players felt when they made the same journey on the evening of Saturday 16th May 1998.

The most notable differences, of course, were that I wasn’t intoxicated by beer and champagne, and I wasn’t about to clamber through a skylight and start dancing on the roof of my vehicle when I reached my destination.

I was heading home in my car having been to the printers in Glasgow to sign off on the final version of Reminiscing with Legends, the book I have been working on throughout 2020 and which has been all-consuming and, mercifully, given me a genuine focus for the vast majority of this weird, pandemic-ravaged year. On a personal level, completing the book - and fulfilling a childhood ambition - is the highlight of my career as a football writer so far.

For anyone previously unaware, Reminiscing with Legends details “Hearts’ exhilarating journey to Scottish Cup glory in 1998”, and revolves around exclusive, in-depth reflections from players, management and staff at the club in the mid-to-late 1990s, as well as dozens of others who were close to what I have found to be a fascinating narrative. 

The book doesn’t just detail the 1998 Scottish Cup final, the Scottish Cup run, or even the sensational 1997/98 season; it encapsulates the entirety of Jim Jefferies’ first spell as Hearts manager, tells the story of how the Scottish Cup-winning side came to fruition and is packed with insight and anecdotes from Hearts in the mid-to-late 1990s.

This venture wouldn’t have been possible without the co-operation of all of those quoted in the book, particularly the management and the players, who were incredibly generous with their time and enthusiastic about bringing the story together in a manner which I hope will allow everyone involved to view it as a memento of a magical period in their lives. For every player who featured, the Scottish Cup win with Hearts was a major event in their careers; for the vast majority, it was the pinnacle. While every single interviewee had a captivating way of talking me through their own personal reflections, I noted that players such as Stephen Fulton (with his unique turn of phrase), Neil McCann (with his polished punditry expertise) and Stephane Adam (with his emotion and passion) almost became unofficial narrators in the story. 

Even those who didn’t feature so prominently in the final part of the journey still had compelling stories to tell; every single interview served to add extra meat to the bone. While it was a huge challenge to bring together almost 50 interviews, along with all the nuggets of information I managed to unearth through other means of research, in a logical and book-worthy order, the way the players and management spoke certainly made the task that bit easier. Their quotes were generally so powerful, detailed and enlightening that I often wouldn’t have to do a great deal to fill in the blanks. They were all a pleasure to deal with throughout, always available to provide extra information when required, and I hope the finished product - all 26 chapters and 135,000 words of it - reflects that.

The books will be ready towards the end of October and pre-ordered copies will start dropping through letter boxes in the first week of November. Thank you to every single one of you who has purchased a copy so far. With this being my first book, there was always a nagging worry that hardly anybody would be interested enough to buy it; in that regard, I am truly humbled by the number of sales so far. The fact so many people were actually buying the book before I had even finished writing served as a source of fresh impetus towards the end. I would also like to thank everyone who has helped with writing the book, as well as everyone on social media who has provided me with a source of encouragement through what - at times - has been a lonely process, cocooned away from all human life for hours on end, transcribing, writing and generally immersed in mid-to-late 1990s Hearts. 

With the book being sold online-only at present, it is reliant to a large extent on you guys spreading the word among your fellow Hearts supporters. In that regard, all the retweets, shares and shoutouts have been massively appreciated. Thank you also to all the podcasts who have had me on so far and given me a platform to promote the book. 

While 2020 has obviously been a grim year on so many levels, the help and support I have had from so many people - several of whom I’d never previously encountered - has been truly uplifting. Thank you to everyone who has helped make the journey of writing my first book so memorable. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the finished product in the coming weeks.

Anthony Brown, October 2020