The sacrifice of the Hearts players is well known thanks to Jack Alexander's excellent book McCrae's Battalion, and I was delighted that the Battalion, the 16th Royal Scots, has just been inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame. I recently re-read Jack's book, and it brought home to me what a magnificent piece of research it was, particularly as he did most of it before the internet revolutionised modern history with the wealth of digitised records. His book remains the outstanding classic of First World War sporting literature.
I recently came across a tribute of another kind to the Hearts players. In 1923 the resident poet of the Edinburgh Evening News, J. Aitken Brown, brought out a little volume entitled Football in Verse, and it is no surprise that he devoted several poems to the club and its sacrifice.
In this emotive piece written during the War he put into context the club's agonising failure to take the Scottish League championship in 1914-15, when the remaining players were simply too exhausted from military training to win matches after leading the race for so long.