YOU all remember Hearts’ 4-0 home win over Hamilton in the Scottish Premiership in March 2017 right?

If your answer is “no” and/or “why on earth are you talking about this in a Bradford newspaper?” then I can explain.

That day I saw the greatest free-kick I’ve ever witnessed live.

And it just so happens that it was scored by Bradford City’s new number 10, loanee Jamie Walker.

The Scot is something of a Hearts stalwart, having had two spells there since 2011, but that 2016/17 arguably represented his high-water mark, as he racked up 15 goals in all competitions.

And it’s hard to imagine that any of the other 14 were better than the one I saw.

So why was I there in the first place?

Well it came to my attention the other day that even though I’ve been writing these weekly columns for a few months now, you hardly know anything about me.

And with Walker joining City on loan from the Edinburgh side this week, my little anecdote about him and that win over Hamilton was a chance to write a more personal column, a proper “natter” if you will.

I began studying at the University of Edinburgh in 2013, but my Scottish team were Hearts’ great rivals, Hibernian.

I was at Easter Road as they beat Arbroath and Berwick Rangers on their way to the Scottish Cup semi-finals in 2014/15, I attended on the day they lifted the Scottish Championship title in 2016/17, and I watched them concede last-gasp equalisers to St Johnstone and Kilmarnock in a pair of 2-2 draws on two separate holidays up in the Scottish capital during the 2019/20 campaign.

As a “foreigner”, Hibs and Hearts’ great rivalry didn’t really bother me, first and foremost I just like to watch football, but the latter weren’t even my second Edinburgh team.

The 2016/17 season was Edinburgh City’s first in the Scottish Football League, and in what was really my first proper journalism gig, I used to go and cover their home games in League Two for student radio.

I used to traipse along to a freezing Meadowbank every other Saturday, console myself by buying a macaroni pie (try it) from the concourse, write a match report, and interview a who’s who of Scottish football managers after the match, among them the legendary Dick Campbell (Arbroath), a combustible Barry Ferguson (Clyde), and a despairing Dave Mackay (Stirling Albion).

So Hearts weren’t even on the radar until, one afternoon in March 2017, my mate Olli and I decided to go Tynecastle because we were close by.

It was our final year, and I’d always considered going to a Hearts home game, just to see what it was like.

Being two hungover students in our early twenties back then, it is not surprising that Olli’s recollection of events is sketchy.

I asked him what he remembered about the game the other day, and he said: “Hibs (it was definitely Hearts Olli) destroyed Hamilton.

“I remember a fantastic free-kick, and that I was a wee bit hungover.

“Also, it was a nice day because it didn’t rain.”

Fortunately, I can offer a bit more insight than that.

When I used to go to a Hibs game, I’d usually buy a ticket from the ticket office about 20 minutes before kick-off.

Not at Tynecastle I couldn’t. When I asked for two match tickets at £18 each, I was brusquely informed by a steward that you couldn’t buy any for the home end on a matchday.

Bizarrely though, we were allowed to visit a little hut to get tickets for the away end, and having paid £24(?!) apiece for those, Olli and I took our place among a gaggle of weary Hamilton fans, whose teams were battling grimly against relegation.

Hearts were a class above their opponents throughout and the first half was a one-way onslaught, taking place right in front of us behind the goal.

But with Gary Woods in inspired form in goal (some of his saves had to be seen to be believed), it looked as if Hamilton would go into the break level.

It was not to be though, and Arnoud Djoum’s goal for Hearts in first-half injury-time seemed to break Hamilton’s spirit.

The second half saw the home side score THREE free-kicks, all of wildly differing degrees of quality.

First, Woods made the catastrophic decision to handle a backpass, and Isma Goncalves lashed in the resulting indirect free-kick from a few yards out.

And then came Walker’s big moment.

From about 25 yards out, he stepped up to take a free-kick and whipped it with stunning accuracy right into the top corner.

Woods flung himself at the ball with a full-length dive, but as soon as Walker hit it, I knew there was only one thing happening.

He could not have placed it, or curled it, any better.


There was still time for Woods to complete his transition from superhero to drunk man at a wedding, as he somehow let a low Malaury Martin free-kick sneak past him at the near post two minutes from time.

Olli and I never did go back to Tynecastle (I felt like I was cheating on Hibs AND I’d paid £24 to sit with some grumpy away fans), but I did take this thought away:

“That Jamie Walker is some footballer, I hope I get to see him play again one day...”