Tom Robertson was a Scottish International footballer who played an instrumental part in the Heart of Midlothian side that won the 1896/97 Scottish League Championship. We at McTear’s are delighted to be offering the incredibly rare medal he received after that campaign.
Born in West Lothian in 1876, Robertson represented East Benhar, Heatherbell, Motherwell and Fauldhouse at a youth level, before signing for Hearts in 1896. This was a glorious period for the club, and Robertson helped them to their second ever league title during the 1896/97 season, during which they finished two points ahead of their arch-rivals Hibernian.
Whilst the club had lost some key players at the beginning of the campaign, they retained many at the peak of their performance, as well as bolstering their ranks with a number of strong signings including George Livingstone, Albert Buck, Bobby Walker and of course, Robertson.
Hearts were captained that season by the stalwart midfielder John Walker, and the players were again trained by legendary coach James Chapman.
A crucial point in the season came against Hibs on 5th December 1896, when their Leith neighbours were four points ahead and would probably have secured the title if victorious. However, it was a goal from Tom Robertson which allowed Hearts to win the tie, bringing them within reach of the title.
By mid-January, both teams, as well as a strong Celtic side, were neck and neck at 24 points apiece with two games left to play.
Hibs went to 26 points after beating St. Mirren, however lost their final match in Paisley which gave Hearts a critical opportunity. The Tynecastle side went to 26 points after defeating Clyde away from home, leaving it all to play for in their final match after Celtic lost at home to Dundee.
The title was secured in resounding fashion on the 20th February 1897, when Hearts beat Clyde 5-0 at home, with Tom Robertson scoring four of the goals.
The importance of Robertson in the early history of the club cannot be understated, and was certainly noticed south of the border when Merseyside club Liverpool signed him for £350 in 1898.
A great all-round player, he went on to score in his debut for that club, and was instrumental in the side that won their first ever English league title in 1900/01, with his medal for this achievement being in the Anfield trophy room.
Robertson went on to play with Hearts again, before spells with Dundee and Manchester United, though it is that all-important first spell with the club and the critical goals he scored during the 1896/97 campaign that has secured his name in the early history of Hearts.
The medal will feature in The Sporting Medals & Trophies Auction taking place at McTear's Glasgow Galleries on Friday 21 May.