Ten minutes before Nick Walsh whistled to signal the start of Heart of Midlothian's 3-0 win over Dundee a huge banner began being unfurled in the Gorgie End by the Gorgie Ultras.

What unfolded was perhaps the most impressive tifo from the supporters' group since the 'From one generation to another' display ahead of the win over Rosenborg at the start of the season. One which saw plenty of work undertaken to get it ready for Saturday afternoon and then even on the day of the game as the Ultras worked around other fans to get it into position.

It was a celebration of the club's great goal scorers, Willie Bauld, John Robertson and Lawrence Shankland. The King of Hearts, the Ace of Hearts and the 9 of Hearts. And it may well have doubled up as a message or reminder to Shankland of his status amongst the club's support, the elevated position he has and what he could achieve by prolonging his stay at Hearts, namely joining Bauld and Robertson in the upper echelons of legendary club figures.

That is a bridge that will be crossed later this summer when there will no doubt be plenty of speculation around his future when he comes back from Euro 2024 with one of three scenarios coming to fruition: He is sold, he pens a new deal or he spends a third and final season at the club and moves on. If it was the second of those three options it would likely trump any bit of transfer business the club does.

Shorter term there is the small matter of becoming only the second Hearts player since the late 1950s to hit 30 goals in a season. Going into the match Shankland, who received a commemorative quaich from the club's CEO Andrew McKinlay for winning the PFA Scotland Player of the Year, sat on 28 with three games to play. Two to reach the milestone, three to equal Robertson's 31 in the 1987/88 campaign and four to surpass it. 

For much of the game, it appeared it was going to be, on a goal-scoring level, a frustrating afternoon. The 28-year-old's main contributions were in the build-up, linking play and setting up chances. It was his brilliant cross that was met by Kenneth Vargas whose header was excellently saved. In the first-half he also gave Alan Forrest an earful for keeping his head down and not passing for the second time. 

It would be Vargas and Forrest who'd get the goals which looked like giving Hearts a 2-0 win. And it was notable because of how the goal-scoring burden on Shankland has been lessened as the season progressed. Prior to the international break, he had scored 18 of the club's 36 goals. In the second half of the campaign, he has netted 11 of 28. There has been a better balance.


Shankland will tell you that it doesn't matter who scores as long as Hearts win. It's true and he means it. But at the same time, he's a goal scorer. Not that far deep down there is an urge and desire to score in every game. 

It was fulfilled right at the end, Scott Fraser slipping him in to round off a celebratory day at Tynecastle Park, even if the finish won't feature high on a list of his best goals for the season. And you could see it in Shankland's reaction. There may well have been frustration or relief, perhaps a mixture of both. Almost a 'thank f--k!'.

It was 'just' his second in his last eight games but gets him back on the scoresheet ahead of an important summer for him and gives the 9 of Hearts a fantastic chance to join the 30-club at Hearts. A club that features both the King and Ace of Hearts.